Where to go Trail Running in Whistler
Whistler is an absolute paradise for running. You can find easy, relaxing, paved running routes. Challenging, narrow and zig-zagging runs. Runs that take you along spectacular rivers and unbelievable sunsets over amazing lakes. In Whistler, you can even find a run that winds its way through a menagerie of decades old, train wreckage incredibly brought to life with elaborate paintings. You can even find runs that can safely be classified as brutal. The Wedgemount Lake 14k trail run is difficult, steep, rugged, yet takes you to a lake high above Whistler that will take your breath away. The unnatural, turquoise colour, the stark ruggedness of the valley and the spectacular glacier sliding down toward the lake all make the brutality of the run an unforgettable experience. Other runs are less traumatic, yet just as amazing. The Singing Pass 22k run takes you from the top of Whistler to Whistler Village by way of a staggering array of incredible views. Skirting the edge of Whistler Mountain, this running route is an exhilarating set of viewpoints. One after the other they open up to you as you run. The trail extends away from Whistler until it reaches Singing Pass. Singing Pass abruptly takes you down from the endless mountain views and ascends continuously and straight for twelve kilometres to Whistler Village. Singing Pass cuts between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and you find yourself running under the Peak to Peak Gondola far above.
Another brutal, yet popular running route in Whistler is known as the Rubble Creek Classic. This 25k linear run takes you from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead up into Garibaldi Park, past Helm Creek, Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake and finishes at the Rubble Creek trailhead. This is a running race that takes place in September every year and attracts quite a few locals as well as regional, trail running athletes.
A less brutal and still very challenging run is the Rainbow Lake 16k. This wonderful, deep forest trail takes you high into the alpine to the beautiful, Rainbow Lake. Located across the valley from Whistler and Blackcomb, the views are amazing. Along the run to the lake you pass by several waterfalls, cross a few bridges, run through a meadow on a boardwalk and then hit the magnificent alpine lake ringed with more potential running routes. The Rainbow Lake 16k is definitely a challenging run as you gain 850 metres in just 8k to the lake. This is just gradual enough to be enjoyable and just as importantly, the 8k return is just gradual enough to not kill your knees. This of course cannot be said of the Wedgemount Lake run or the Singing Pass run. Both of these brutalize even the strongest knees.
There are of course a beautiful array of relaxing running trails in Whistler. The Cheakamus Lake trail is definitely one of the most amazing, moderate runs around. You can run various lengths on this one. The trailhead to the start of Cheakamus Lake is 3k, so you can have a very enjoyable 6k run that has winding hills and river views though a forest of giant trees. If you extend the roundtrip to 12k or 14k, you will be following the trail along the edge of this beautiful lake. Always in the midst of the impressive forest of giant cedars and hemlocks, there are constant vistas that keep the run exciting and entertaining. Of all the runs in Whistler, Cheakamus Lake gives you the best views for least effort. Overall there is little elevation change, yet constant short and gradual ups and downs, and non-stop sights to take in.
The Whistler Train Wreck is a 5.4 kilometre running route that has become a secret favourite for weekend visitors. This route is very convenient on the drive in and out of Whistler. The trailhead parking is located on Alpha Lake Road in Function Junction (8k south of the Village on the Sea to Sky Highway). From your car you run through the forest away from Function Junction, under the highway overpass and eventually across the train tracks to the amazing Cheakamus River. The trail continues past a few beautiful river viewpoints then forces you back toward the train tracks where you skirt a bend in the river. Past the bend you, once again run left into a trail, this time leading to the elaborate and expansive train wreck. The amazing paintings inside and outside of the wrecked train cars are extraordinarily beautiful. Combined with the amazing river viewpoints make this run impossible to do without stopping a few times to marvel at the sights. It is because of this convenience and beauty that has made this a popular run to do a 5k lap, or two laps (10k), or three laps (15k) through just before arriving at your hotel in Whistler to start your weekend.
Closer to Whistler Village you can find various good jogging routes that take you along the beautiful, paved Valley Trail. Right from Whistler Village you can get on the section of Valley Trail that runs around the Whistler Golf Course. Once around is just under 5k, and has some gradual hills and non-stop views that include, Whistler, Blackcomb, Wedge, Rainbow, and Sproatt mountains. This is one of the most popular places to run in Whistler, partly due to its beauty and partly its convenience. It is also one of the few running routes that can be run in the winter as this part of the Valley Trail is snow plowed daily.
An extension of the Whistler Golf Course 4.8k can easily be done by following the Valley Trail off one end and continuing on to Alta Lake and circling the lake via Rainbow Park and returning to the Whistler Golf Course where you began. This running route is 7.7k long and takes you past the far side of Alta Lake and some stunning views of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
This amazing running route takes you past the beautiful, Whistler Golf Course, then Alta Lake, though to Meadow Park, then along Green Lake to the edge of the Lost Lake trails and finally back through Whistler Village to where you began.
Of course, the Lorimer Road to Green Lake running route is amazing in its own right. It takes you along the beautiful section of Valley Trail that runs along the River of Golden Dreams and continues past the beautiful boardwalk along the south end of Green Lake before returning to Lorimer Road via Whistler Village.
Cheakamus Lake in Garibaldi Park
Cheakamus Lake is a beautiful trail that runs through an amazing forest of giant trees, then along the hugely crashing Cheakamus River and finally to the gorgeous Cheakamus Lake. As trail runs go, Cheakamus Lake is one of the nicest in Whistler. The dirt trail is wide and meandering. There are plenty of short and gradual hills, but the overall elevation gain/loss is minimal.
The length of your run can be determined when you get there. From the trailhead to the beginning of the lake is just 3k, but you can continue on for another 4k to reach the end of the maintained trail. You could even continue past the end of the maintained trail and follow the rougher, and dead-fall strewn trail that continues to the end of the lake.
The constantly changing Cheakamus Lake trail takes you through a sweetly scented cedar forest, over several small streams and at 7k ends at Singing Creek. Singing Creek empties into Cheakamus Lake at a small gravel beach. If you plan to swim, this is a great spot to do it.
Cheakamus Lake is a wonderfully relaxing way to get in the wilderness trail running easily and quickly from Whistler Village. There are so many aspects of this trail run that make it exceptional. First is the terrain. It is gently rolling hills in deep forest. Not your average forest. This forest is wonderful. It's big. Big, wild and amazing. Then the Cheakamus River appears. Beautiful. It's that bright, surreal turquoise that seems almost normal in Whistler. Cheakamus Lake has it. Garibaldi Lake has it. Green Lake has a more green hue to it, which gives it it's name.
After about two beautiful kilometres you run along this incredible river, still amongst the absurdly dramatic trees. Then you spot it. Through the trees. The turquoise. The impossibly blue colour. Then you now run with this surreal colour ahead, lighting up the already beautiful forest ahead.
The trail to the lake is in a forest of giant cedars. Running along the beautiful Cheakamus River the hike is short and easy. The trail runs along the lake, passing some small, wonderful campsites, and very small beaches. With the irregular shoreline and dense forest there are plenty quiet beaches to get away and go for a swim.
Train Wreck in Function Junction
The Whistler Train Wreck is a very convenient and amazingly beautiful trail run. It's convenient as it is just south of Whistler with parking near the Flank Trail, trailhead in Function Junction. And it's amazingly beautiful as it runs through a wonderfully varied terrain of dense forest, train tracks, sunny clearings overlooking the crashing Cheakamus River and of course the wildly beautiful train wreck itself.
Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. The cost to clean up the mess was deemed too high, so seven train cars were left scattered next to the Cheakamus River. As it turns out, time and local effort has transformed this mess into a wonderful work of art, an extraordinary bike park, and a great place to trail run.
Though somewhat short, trail running to the end of the train wreck at the train tracks is only 2.7k then returning where you came, retracing your steps through the train wreck make the run just under 6k. And of course repeating the run, which allows for some variation within the spider web of trails near the wreck can enjoyably double the run distance to 10.8k.
It's recent evolution into a manicured bike park has made it into a wonderful trail run as well. It's growing use as a convenient running route from people arriving and departing Whistler on holiday is apparent, though barely.
It's still almost always wonderfully serene, and always wonderfully surreal.
Whistler Golf Course
The Whistler Golf Course is a fantastic trail to run right from Whistler Village. The beautiful and scenic Valley Trail runs around the perimeter of the course. This locals favourite, 4.8 kilometre running trail has some great views of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains as well as a stunning view down its length of the more distant Wedge Mountain, the highest mountain in the Garibaldi Park. The massive mountain opposite Whistler Mountain is Mt Sproatt. On a clear day you can also spot the snowy and distant Rainbow Mountain to the right of Mt Sproatt. Dogs are welcome on this trail and finding it from Whistler Village is very easy. You just want to run under the pedestrian/car underpass under the Sea to Sky Highway near the Whistler Conference Centre. The Whistler Golf Course is a very popular place to spot bears in Whistler from March to September. They are very fond of the grass and it is not unusual to spot two or even three if you keep your eyes out, on a run around the course. This is most likely early or late in the day. Bear attacks are so rare as to be insignificant in Whistler Village. The only real chance of having a bad encounter with a bear in Whistler Village is to run into one or somehow corner one. If you are not running from Whistler Village, and instead arriving by car you can park for free at the end of Lorimer Rd. At the dead end of Lorimer Rd you will immediately see a clear trail sign indicating which direction to go. Rainbow Park points one way, Meadow Park another way and Whistler Village a third way. You want to follow the direction for Whistler Village as it takes you to the Whistler Golf Course before the Village. The Whistler Golf Course 4.8k is one of the few trails suitable for running in the winter. It is snow plowed daily and part of the trail has good lighting for the short winter daylight hours. Despite the partial lighting a headlight is necessary for this run after dark.
Convenient and easy to find. You can run right from the Village. Well laid out, wide, paved, two lane Valley Trail. Your dog is welcome. Suitable for jogging strollers as it is wide, smooth pavement. Good for running all year-round (snow plowed in the winter). Beautiful views all around the trail. Good running distance for doing 5k or multiples of 5k. So much to see it doesn't get boring.
Lost Lake Park
The Lost Lake trails are an amazing web of running routes located on the edge of Whistler Village. Just like the Whistler Golf Course 4.8k running route, you can run the Lost Lake trails right from your hotel in the Village. The main lost lake trail is a very wide, gravel trail that runs around Lost Lake, a small but very picturesque lake. In the summer it is home to Whistler's busiest beach. This huge sandy beach lays at the end of Lost Lake. There are dozens of named trails in the lost lake area and by picking up one of the nice Whistler Village maps that you see everywhere in the Village you can easily plot a more challenging route than the 6k one shown here. Though the trails seem to run in all directions, overall they are hemmed in on all sides, and it would be difficult to get yourself lost. Much of the year Lost Lake is a great place to spot bears. Though there are frequent sightings, bears are generally timid and run for the trees when they hear you coming. It is very important to keep your distance and avoid surprising or antagonizing them. There has never been an unprovoked bear attack in Whistler so you don't have to be worried running in bear country. Dogs are welcome on the Lost Lake trails. In the winter months, snow covers these trails and the area becomes a cross country and snowshoeing area and there is a $9 per day charge to access the trails during the winter season, but you must be on snowshoes or skis. Close to the Village, within five minutes from your hotel you are immersed in deep forest. Almost constant, beautiful views as you circle the lake. There is a large swimming pier that you will run past that is good for swimming off of. Also, you will be running past the big, sandy, main Lost Lake beach, good for swimming as well. The Lost Lake running trails can be varied in length and route as to make them always interesting.