The High Note Trail Whistler Hiking Trails
Thebegins high up on Whistler Mountain at the top of the Peak Express chairlift. To get there you must buy a lift pass and ride the Whistler Gondola for 22 minutes up to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain, then hike for about 8 minutes to the Peak Express. Ride this beautiful and alarmingly steep chairlift up to Whistler's Peak where the begins.
Of all the hiking choices on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the High Note Trail is possibly the most amazing and scenic. It has several amazing attributes that make it a must-do hike on any summer visit to Whistler. First, the fact that it starts and finishes at the Roundhouse Lodge is fantastic. The Roundhouse has a very nice and reasonably priced restaurant with an outdoor seating area with million dollar views all around. They also have a great selection of pub style drinks so you can toast a beer or glass of wine on top of the world after(or before) your hike.
Second, after the Roundhouse there is a short hike to the carnival like, Peak Express chairlift, which takes you to the High Note trailhead. This ride alone will cause you to snap about 25 photos as you ride into the clouds to Whistler Mountains summit. And the third and most beautiful aspect of the High Note Trail is that half of it runs along the edge of Whistler Mountain with the hypnotically beautiful Cheakamus Lake always in view. This lake has that surreal and certainly bizarre looking colour that never quite looks real. With the sun shining off of it, producing such a vibrant blue that contrasts the green of everything else around you.
The High Note Trail begins with some narrow, rocky and fairly steep ups and downs as you hike out to the edge of a rock outcrop with your first trail views of the valley and Whistler below. Though there are two small chain-assist sections, most hikers should have no difficulty in this section. Even if you are bringing your kids along, you will have no problem or worry at these parts or any other along the trail. After this short up and down section at the beginning of the High Note Trail, the route evens out and runs along the edge of the ridge parallel to the amazing Cheakamus Lake far down the valley below.
There are signs at a couple spots along the way directing you very clearly. The High Note Trail is 9.5k roundtrip and should take about 3 hours. Partway along the trail you can take a short cut, the Half Note Trail and head back earlier and shorten the trail by a couple kilometres. The trail is by no means easy as it is narrow and has a few ups and downs, but aside from the fairly long distance (9.5k), the High Note Trail is family friendly.
It is open from July to October depending on when the Whistler Gondola and Peak Express are open of course. The cost can be prohibitive at around $70, however, there is so much to see and do up there, not least the Peak to Peak Gondola which shouldn't be missed on the same outing as hiking the High Note. One common misconception about paying to go up Whistler Mountain in the summer is that you will only be up there for an hour or so as there is little to do. The opposite is actually the case. If you hike the High Note Trail, stop in at the Roundhouse, cross over to Blackcomb Mountain on the Peak to Peak Gondola, and then ride back down to the Village, you may take well over 5 hours and have an amazing time.
High Note Trailhead Directions Whistler Hiking Trails
Parking in Whistler Village is in one of the four main day lots. Parking rules in Whistler changed to pay parking a couple years ago, and parking rules keep changing. However, it seems that Lot 4 will always allow free, long-term parking for the High Note Trail, Singing Pass and Russet.. Lot 4 is easy to find. As you enter Whistler Village on Village Gate Boulevard, drive straight to the T junction stop sign at Blackcomb Way. Turn Left onto Blackcomb Way and you will see Lots 1 to 4 on your right. Lot 4 is the last one on your right, however you can enter the lots anywhere as they are all joined. Lots 1, 2, and 3 are all paid parking and you will see plenty of signs and instructions to pay.
Camping possibilities are endless and amazing on both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. The High Note Trail exists on a fairly popular hiking route and though camping is not outright prohibited, doing so in the vicinity of the trail would be weird and likely frowned upon. Most camping is centred around Russet Lake, which sits in a beautiful setting near where Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains meet. Russet Lake is in Garibaldi Provincial Park and enjoys some nice amenities. There are outhouses, one at Russet Lake and another partway along the Singing Pass Trail. Russet Lake also has a nice, solid, hut that anyone is welcome to use for free. The numerous and very nice places to put up a tent around Russet Lake ensures that this hut remains vacant the majority of nights in the summer and fall. In the winter months, however, the Russet Lake Hut is a hive of activity and cherished as a temporary winter home for Whistler's numerous, hard-core skiers/snowboarders/snowshoers. An amazing alternative to Russet Lake are the countless, unmarked places to bivouac along the Musical Bumps Trail. The Musical Bumps Trail skirts the edge of Whistler Mountain almost all the way to Russet Lake. As you hike you keep passing Whistler chairlifts on your left and to your right, endless wilderness descending to Cheakamus Lake. About 45 minutes beyond the High Note Trail you will start noticing some enticing areas on your right where you could disappear into the forest and set up camp next to an idyllic stream with an amazing view over Cheakamus Lake.
Located on Whistler Mountain, the High Note Trail has several washroom and outhouse facilities. The Whistler Gondola drops you off at the Roundhouse Lodge, which has washrooms, gift shops and two restaurants. From the Roundhouse you have a 5 minute hike down to the Peak Express Chair. There are a couple slight variations on the route you can take for the High Note Trail, however, the normal route returns you past washrooms at a small cabin about 7 kilometres into the 9.5k roundtrip journey. If you are continuing past the High Note Trail toward Russet Lake or the Singing Pass Trail, you will find outhouses at both Russet Lake and partway down the Singing Pass Trail.
Tragically dogs are not welcome on the High Note Trail, Whistler or Blackcomb Mountains, or any of Garibaldi Provincial Park. This is out of respect for the local wildlife as well as the inability of chairlifts to safely accommodate transporting pets. Unfortunately that rules out quite a few hiking trails in the Whistler area. There are an ever increasing number of dog friendly hiking alternatives in Whistler. Certainly the recently established section of the Sea to Sky Trail above Green Lake is an excellent dog friendly hiking trail to try. The Sea to Sky Trail runs for over 30 kilometres through Whistler and every inch of it is pretty amazing. From Brandywine Falls, through and over the Bungee Bridge, up through Cheakamus Crossing and through Whistler Village and beyond Green Lake, the Sea to Sky Trail is an incredibly way to see Whistler with your pets. For a list of some of the best, dog friendly hikes around Whistler try here..
High Note & Singing Pass Trail Map Printer, Smartphone and Tablet Friendly
This trail map shows the High Note Trail as well as the Musical Bumps Trail to Russet Lake and then the Singing Pass Trail back to Whistler. The first left from High Note Trail is the Half Note Trail, a shorter version of the High Note Trail. The next left, past the Half Note turn is the High Note Trail as it veers back toward the Roundhouse. There are two ways to return to the Roundhouse and both are well marked with trail signs. 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 is usually excellent everywhere on Whistler Mountain, 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 especially if you are venturing beyond the High Note Trail.
Russet Lake is a fantastic alpine lake that lays at the base of the Fissile. The Fissile is the strikingly bronze coloured mountain so visible from Whistler Village. From the Village look into the distance at the Peak to Peak hanging between Whistler and Blackcomb and you will see the Fissile. Its pyramid shape in the distance perfectly separates the two mountains. Though Russet Lake is not terribly impressive in terms of size or colour, the valley around it is remarkably beautiful. The colours change from moment to moment in and extraordinary way. The distinctive colour of the Fissile and the stark grey of the mountains around contrast amazingly with the blue of the lake and green grass in the valley. So many different factors fill the place with colour. Russet Lake is a beautiful place to camp. It has a wonderful hut available to use by anyone. It is a basic wooden hut with no facilities, but surprisingly comfortable. It holds up to 12 crowded or 8 comfortable. There is also an outhouse and a beautiful stream that runs along the massive camping area. There are no tent platforms but over a dozen tent clearings. There is a considerable amount of exploring available in the valley around Russet Lake. The fissile is a difficult but very feasible hike from Russet Lake. Below Russet Lake is a very accessible glacier as well as a bonanza of glacier formed landscape features, inviting hours of interesting exploration. Above Russet Lake there is a beautiful snow covered ridge that commands incredible views all around and if you have the energy makes for a spectacular tent site.