Wedgemount Lake 14k - Whistler Trail Running
The increasingly popular trail run tois as magnificent as it is brutal. It's brutal in elevation gain, 1220 metres in only 7km. But a wonderful challenge due to the ruggedness and steepness of the trail. You will be focussed on the trail so much as to become mesmerized into a runners trance.
At a good pace, often not running, but hiking fast, many make it to the top in around one hour and twenty minutes. It's Whistler's Grouse Grind with the added bonus of a spectacular lake to jump into at the top. If you can run the Wedgemount Lake trail, you should have no problem jumping into a 3 degree lake.
The Wedgemount Lake trail is very rugged and you may encounter fallen trees early and well into the season. The 14k round-trip can be extended to 18k by continuing to the Wedgemount Glacier. This section will be rocky to run on as the trail runs through the scree slope running to the lake, but this part is relatively flat and touching the edge of the Wedgemount Glacier is fantastic.
Wedgemount Lake itself is a magnificent destination for a day hike or spectacular overnight beneath the dazzling mountain peaks and stars. Many sleep under the stars on one of the many beautiful tent platforms that dot the landscape. Solidly built, wooden tent platforms are everywhere you look at Wedgemount Lake. Strategically positioned, these platforms manage to maintain an amazingly secluded feel despite their numbers. In all Wedgemount Lake has 20 of these tent areas. Most are wooden, but several down by the lake shore are gravel, yet every bit as nice.
At a fast hiking pace you can reach Wedgemount Lake from the trailhead in just an hour and a half but at a leisurely or backpack laden pace you will likely take over two hours. The trail is well marked and well used. The steepness of the trail doesn't require any technical skill, however that last kilometre before the lake you will be scrambling on all fours quite a bit.
The elevation gain makes a tremendous difference when carrying a heavy backpack and unprepared for the exertion. There is hardly a section of the trail that is not steeply uphill. The first 15 minutes takes you into the deep forest and then across Wedgemount Creek. This crashing creek can be heard from quite a distance and gives you a hint of the steepness of the trail to come.
The source of Wedgemount Creek is of course Wedgemount Lake which tumbles down almost 300 metres in the spectacular Wedgemount Falls. You will be able to see Wedgemount Falls around the 5 kilometre mark along the trail. It is far off to the right in the distance. Despite the distance, you will hear it loud and clear and some easy to find and get to areas off the trail give amazing views of it.
Of all the excellent trail running routes in Whistler, Wedgemount Lake is possibly the toughest. The gruelling uphill grind is tremendous and the return journey is just as brutal as you continuously hammer your knees down the steep terrain. Areas of scree, loose dirt trail sections and frequent tree roots make the trail potentially dangerous for ankle sprains or even breaks.
For a less arduous trail to run in Whistler, the Cheakamus Lake 12k trail is easy and relaxing, yet still has a beautiful lake as a destination and a wonderful forest to run through. The Rubble Creek Classic 25k is an amazing run that begins at the Cheakamus Lake trailhead and finishes at the Rubble Creek trailhead near Garibaldi Lake.
The elevation gain and loss is considerable, however, the length of the trail is much longer and stretches out the ascent and descent. The Rubble Creek Classic requires two vehicles of course, one at each end of the trail. For a similarly difficult route in the same area, the Panorama Ridge 30k running route starts and ends at the Rubble Creek trailhead. For a summary of some of the best of the best running trails in Whistler try here..
Trailhead Directions & Trail Map to Wedgemount Lake
Printer, smartphone and tablet friendly. Designed to fit standard printers and copiers. To print: right click on the map, save image as, save to desktop, then open the image and print on standard size printer paper. Cell coverage usually reaches to Wedgemount Lake so you will likely be able to access the internet if you have a data plan, however saving this image may be a good idea.