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.
Wedgemount Lake - Campsite, Trail & Parking Info
The free parking at the trailhead to Wedgemount Lake, or "Wedge" as it is commonly called is easy to find as there are easy to spot Garibaldi Park signs on the Sea to Sky Highway. Located just a short and scenic, ten minute drive north of Whistler Village. An excellent place to see Wedge Mountain on the way to the Wedgemount trailhead is the Green Lake viewpoint at the edge of Highway 99. Look for the obvious and large pullout on the right side of the Sea to Sky Highway at the edge of Green Lake. The pullout is easy to spot shortly after you can see Green Lake. The views across to Whistler, Blackcomb and Wedge Mountain are amazing. There is also a nice information board indicating what you are looking at. Also, just after the highway turnoff to Wedgemount Lake there is a beautiful picnic area on Green River. Picnic tables, serenity and the hugely crashing Green River make this a great spot to relax before your hike. This is also a superb and free place to camp before and/or after hiking Wedgemount Lake. Beautiful freshwater river and lots of places to put up a tent near the Green River bridge make it an ideal setting. From Whistler Village at Village Gate Boulevard, zero your odometer proceed north on Highway 99. At 11.3km a sign will direct you to turn right to "Wedgemount(Garibaldi)". Cross the train tracks and the bridge over Green River and immediately (11.5k) turn left onto the Wedge Creek Forest Service Road. At 11.7km turn right and head up the bumpy but drivable to all types of cars to the parking lot at 13.2km. In the winter months (December to March) this last portion of road will likely be too deep with snow to drive, so parking here at the 11.7km mark may be as close as you can get. The trailhead parking lot is large and well maintained with an information board and outhouse. Though crime is almost non-existent in Whistler, be sure to secure your vehicle as leaving valuables visible in your car at a hiking trailhead is asking for trouble.
Camping in Garibaldi Park is generally very good and at Wedgemount Lake the facilities are spectacular. There are 20 designated tent spots and each one with a million dollar view of paradise. Half of these spots are located near the Wedge Hut, up along the dramatic scree, boulder and enormous erratic field about 300 metres from Wedgemount Lake. These tent spots are made of beautiful, wooden tent platforms and arranged to maximize both privacy and view. Nestled in alpine trees about 50 metres up the slope from the hut, three wooden tent platforms hide. Closer to the hut, nestled in the massive erratics are three more platforms. The more you explore among the gnarled and dramatically beautiful krummholz, the more perfectly positioned tent platforms you find. Down at the shore of Wedgemount Lake, just across from the foot of the glacier are several wood framed, gravel tent platforms lined majestically along the shore. Strategically positioned to line your tent view directly across the lake to the breathtaking Wedgemount Glacier. The wonderful silence broken only by distant waterfalls and the occasional rock slide from across the lake. The foot of the Wedgemount Glacier is just a short walk away.
Garibaldi Park is home to an ever increasing number of mountain huts. Russet Lake has one, Elfin Lakes has a massive one, Garibaldi Lake has one at the far end of the lake mainly used in the winter. The Spearhead Range that connects Blackcomb and Whistler mountains has a current proposal that may see the construction of several more huts. The Wedgemount Lake hut is free to use and there is no reservation system. It has an upper loft area that could fit four people in a pinch and the main floor has two large tables that are used as beds as well. The hut can comfortably accommodate 6 people, however more can fit if needed. Due to the tent pads being so numerous and beautiful, the Wedge Hut often goes unused. It is of course quite dark inside despite having some small windows and is just equipped with a shovel, broom, logbook and a few odds and ends left by previous hikers. The door locks from both the inside and outside making it secure from rodents, bears, sasquatches and mosquitoes. Due to the Wedgemount Lake trail being so steep, the Wedge Hut allows you to lighten your load by not having to carry a tent if you choose to. Also, in poor weather the hut is a wonderful, dry and secure retreat from the elements. Hikers often hike to Wedgemount Lake without a tent, hoping to sleep under the stars with just a sleeping bag. Relying on the Wedge Hut as just a backup in the event of rain or snow. In the spring and winter months, when Whistler is deep with snow, the Wedge Hut is an indispensable refuge for skiers and snowboarders.
There is an outhouse (toilet), at the trailhead to Wedgemount Lake. Another one a few metres from the Wedge Hut and tent platforms at Wedgemount Lake. And a third, almost hidden toilet down near the lakeside tent platforms. You will spot an unusual looking, plastic box in the scree slope along the trail to the lake. This is a futuristic looking outhouse that is more convenient to the campsites at the lake. All the outhouses in Garibaldi Park are serviced frequently and even equipped with toilet paper, however, bringing your own is always a good idea as it inevitably runs out sometimes. If you are unfamiliar with outhouses, they consist of, (usually) a very small wooden room with a small window for light. Sometimes the outhouse is built above a pit in the ground for waste, but in the case of the Wedgemount Lake outhouse it is raised above a massive waste tank that is routinely replaced by helicopter. They are unavoidably disgusting and fly ridden despite the frequent and heroic efforts of excellent BC Parks staff.
Dogs are not permitted on the Wedgemount Lake trail or any other Garibaldi Provincial Park trails out of courtesy to the resident animals of the park. There are a large number of black bears in the park and encounters with dogs result in unpredictable and potentially dangerous conflicts. There are quite a few excellent hiking trails in Whistler that are dog friendly. Whistler's Valley Trail and Lost Lake Trails are dog friendly and run throughout Whistler. The Sea to Sky Trail, which runs over 30 kilometres through Whistler is a paradise trail for dogs as it runs through numerous parks, beaches and forests. Ancient Cedars is a nice, dog friendly hike that is 5k roundtrip and takes you into a thousand year old forest. Train Wreck is also dog friendly. The trailhead, marked Flank Trail is located in Function Junction, just a short drive south of Whistler Village. Further south you will come to Brandywine Falls, which is a short, 2k (roundtrip) dog friendly hike to the amazing falls. About 25 minutes north of Whistler, Nairn Falls is another beautiful and dog friendly hiking trails. For a look at some of the best dog friendly hikes in Whistler try here.. And for some more challenging dog friendly hikes try here..