Whistler Hiking Trails by Difficulty - Easy Trails & Parks
Lost Lake is a tranquil and secluded lake in the forest that extends from Whistler Village. Just a 20 minute, leisurely walk or 5 minute bike ride along the well signed Valley Trail will lead you to this beautiful little lake. The wide and paved Valley Trail turns into a wide and gravel trail as you enter Lost Lake Park. The main trail around the lake is a popular running route from Whistler Village as roundtrip from the Village, around Lost Lake and back to the Village in just 6 kilometres. There are plenty of nice viewpoints along the main trail as well as quite a few short trails that lead to several access points to the lake, some with great places to sit and relax in the sun and take in the view. Lost Lake has a very popular beach at one end and in the height of summer can get busy as it is the most convenient beach from Whistler Village. There are several swimming platforms out in the lake as well as a wonderful and huge pier along the right hand side of the lake. An amazing place to catch the sunsets over Whistler Mountain. The Sea to Sky Trail runs through Lost Lake Park, and the arm that extends north above Green Lake starts on the Lost Lake Trail as you pass between the Disc Golf Course. Keep your eyes out for the Sea to Sky Trail sign on your right if walking from the Lost Lake direction. This amazing, and recently constructed section of the Sea to Sky Trail takes you high above Green Lake and to some breathtaking views.
Blueberry Park is a very scenic and somewhat hidden park on Alta Lake just two kilometres from Whistler Village. If you have been to Rainbow Park you would have noticed three piers across Alta Lake surrounded by forest. These public piers sit at the edge of Blueberry Park, with the Blueberry Trail running from one side of the forest to the other. The park covers most of the hill beyond these piers and stretches between and connects the neighbourhoods of Whistler Cay and Alta Vista(see map below). The beautiful, deep forest trail runs from the shores of Alta Lake in Alta Vista, up and across Blueberry Hill and descends again to reach Whistler Cay. Along the trail there are several beautiful viewpoints of Alta Lake in the foreground and the enormous Mount Sproatt beyond. 2013 saw considerable upgrading to Blueberry Park, which previously had been just a simple dirt trail through the forest and a faint trail to the piers. A new pier, gravel trail section, trail widening and new trail signs have been added. For most of the trail, however, it is steep, rocky, wild and natural looking. The forest is deep and dark. Massive tree roots criss-cross the trail and fallen trees and boulders are strewn everywhere. It has a wonderful remote and natural feeling to the forest that make you forget that you are so close to civilization. Blueberry Park is a wonderfully remote feeling wilderness park with three beautiful piers on Alta Lake. Extremely dog friendly, if you have a dog he will love the place and you never have to worry about bringing a leash.
Lakeside Park at Alta Lake in Whistler is a beautiful beach park just a short distance from Whistler Village. Located on the Valley Trail, it is just 2 kilometres or a 30 minute walk, or 10 minute bike ride away. Similar to Rainbow Park across the lake, Lakeside has a concession stand for food and drinks, picnic tables, BBQ stands, canoe and kayak rentals a huge grass field, pier, a sandy beach and an elaborate little kids play are. Swimming and relaxing are the main draws to Lakeside Park, but fishing off the piers is a common sight as well. The Lakeside pier is just one of many places on the lake good for fishing, but generally fishing on Alta Lake is best done by boat. There is a proper boat launch on Lakeside Drive just a couple hundred metres north of the beach. Alta Lake is catch and release only as is the nearby Green Lake, and there is a bait ban on the lake. The two small lakes adjacent to Alta Lake, Alpha and Nita you can keep what you catch and they are stocked with hundreds of fish every June. Lost Lake on the other side of Whistler Village, you can keep what you catch as well as Loggers Lake near Cheakamus Crossing. The beach at Lakeside is south facing making it a fantastic place to watch the sun set over the towering Mt Sproatt across the lake. If you are looking for a quiet place to relax the main beach may be too chaotic for you, however there is a beautiful place to escape the noise just a 5 minute walk away. Lakeside Park is a popular, scenic and centrally located park on Alta Lake. Close to Whistler Village and will lots of amenities. From canoe rentals to beautiful piers to a great concession stand, you can stay for an entire summer day and everyone in your group will be happy and entertained.
Wayside Park sits near the bottom end of Alta Lake and at just 3 kilometres from Whistler Village is just an hours walk or 10 minute bike ride away. The Valley Trail is a huge spider web network of paved walking/biking/running trails that connect Whistler Village to dozens of beautiful parks and sights. Over 40 kilometres of trails throughout Whistler, with directions at every junction make the Valley Trail much more than just a transportation network. It's an interpretive tour of the area, where you can wander on foot or by bike and use the signs at each junction to choose your route. In the summer months, swimming and relaxing in the sun are the main attractions to Wayside Park. The piers are a fantastic way to view Alta Lake as it stretches north, edged by forest, hills and mountains in the distance. Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding are all popular from Wayside Park and Whistler Eco Tours has a popular rental area here in the summertime. They also do canoe rentals where you can start canoeing at Wayside Park and finish at Green Lake. This 7 kilometre route takes you the length of Alta Lake then down the River of Golden Dreams to Green Lake. The current moves with you the entire journey making it a very relaxing route to paddle. Wayside Park is quiet and somewhat hidden as it sits on the lower end of Alta Lake. It has fantastic views down the lake and a big pier to enjoy them from. Canoe rentals and barbecue stands give you lots to do. Alta Lake Park just a short walk away takes you to the opposite shore of Alta Lake and to an interesting trail through the forest and to another amazing pier.
Located on the opposite shore to Wayside Park, Alta Lake Park is unlike all the other parks around this huge lake. It is secluded feeling where the others are often crowded and chaotic. The two Alta Lake Park piers are far more serene and the views of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are excellent. One of the piers is quite old and sits directly across from the Wayside Park pier. The other Alta Lake Park pier, the "Fairhurst Fishing Dock" is enormous and much newer. It juts out into the lake in a long L shape. Named after the Fairhurst family that operated the Cypress Lodge in the 60's and 70's. A large information board at the dock claims that this is some of the Sea to Sky's best stillwater angling. "Rainbow trout, hatchery cutthroat trout and the occasional bull trout and kokanee make this a great lake to fish." The Fairhurst's operated out of the old building further along Alta Lake(up Alta Lake Road), which is now used by the Whistler Sailing Club. Along with the beautiful pier, there is a scenic trail that takes you through a cute forest with several unusual curiosities. An abandoned truck from the 60's and some purpose-built, artistic areas make the 5 minute trail between piers more than just a nice walk through a cute forest. Alta Lake Park is a hidden little world on the far side of Alta Lake. Easy to get to and the walk there is very scenic. The short, 5 minute trail between the two piers has several interesting sights.
Nita Lake is a tranquil little lake located in Creekside, just 4 kilometres south of Whistler Village. Whistler's beautiful Valley Trail runs right along the edge of Nita Lake and continues past the beautiful Nita Lake Lodge. A small gravel beach with a creek flowing through it gives the park consistently good fishing. Two picnic tables sit in a forest clearing next to the creek. At the end of the lake there are two piers. One is a public pier and the other is for Nita Lake Lodge guests. Nita Lake is comparatively quiet as compared to other Whistler lakes and parks. The main reason is that it lacks a sizable beach and facilities to go along with it. Though this may seem like a drawback, it is also an attraction. On a busy summer day you may find hundreds of people in and around the neighbouring Alpha Lake, yet less than a dozen on Nita Lake. It is relaxing and serene when everywhere else is not. Nita Lake Park is just 4 kilometres from Whistler Village along the Valley Trail and walking, running or biking there is a great option. From the Village the Valley Trail takes you along the edge of Whistler Golf Course, then past Blueberry Park, Lakeside Park and Wayside Park. Blueberry Park is a wonderful, deep forest and secluded feeling park on the edge of Alta Lake.
Alpha Lake Park is a beautiful park on the shores of Alpha Lake in Creekside, just 5 kilometres south of Whistler Village. Located partway along Lake Placid Road just past the Husky and Nita Lake Lodge. This quiet residential street leads to this park that is home to tennis courts, a basketball court, beach volleyball, dog park, a kids play park, a floating dock, a pier and biking/walking/running trails everywhere you look. Alpha Lake Park has a much more local feel to it than other Whistler parks such as the popular Rainbow Park, Lakeside Park and Lost Lake Park. The abundance of trees and the irregular shoreline make the relatively small size of Alpha Lake seem quite a bit bigger than it is. Trails run around both sides of Alpha Lake. The wide and paved Valley Trail runs along the shore on the near side and a gravel trail runs along the far side. This gravel trail, squeezed between the train tracks and the lake takes you to Pine Point Park, a nice rocky outcrop in the top-middle of the lake. Trails zig-zag through the forest here leading to several great vantage points over the lake. If you continue walking through the forest trails in Pine Point Park you will eventually be squeezed between the lake and the train tracks for a few dozen metres before reaching the end of the lake.
Rainbow Park is one of Whistler's most popular swimming, relaxing, soccer playing and socializing beaches and for good reason. The beach is south facing so every morning the sun rises from behind Wedge Mountain and the whole park seems to glow. From the dazzling reflecting from the snow off of Wedge, Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, to the amazing blue glow from Alta Lake. All this framed in the dazzling green of the forest all around. Though there are many great places to watch the sun rise in Whistler, Rainbow Park is one of the best. Rainbow Park gets its name from Rainbow Lodge, a popular stop along the train line from 1914 to 1974. Run by Myrtle and Alex Philip, the original lodge burned down in 1977. Some of the remaining log houses have been moved and now are gradually being restored as an outdoor museum. Interpretive panels with photos and descriptions of life in the area almost a century ago. These houses go mostly unnoticed as the main interpretive area is just off of the main beach across the Bridge of Sighs. Named by Alex Philip, the current bridge is a reconstruction of the original. There is a photo and description of the original that you can compare with the reconstruction. You will notice as you read the various panels how everything in Whistler now seems to be named after the people that once lived in and around the Rainbow Lodge community. Rainbow Park has a beautiful and very long pier that stretches far out on Alta Lake.
Whistler's Bungee Bridge is a very convenient and beautiful stop on the way to or from Whistler from Vancouver. Just 20 minutes south of the Village on the Sea to Sky Highway, then just a 3 kilometre logging road takes you right to the stairs up to this amazing bridge. Open year-round and surprisingly accessible, even in the snowy winter months, thousands of cars drive by every day and never take a look. With so many sights on the Sea to Sky Highway to see, the Whistler Bungee Bridge is one of the nicer and certainly one of the most convenient to see. The Whistler Bungee Bridge is part of the fantastic Sea to Sky Trail. This 180 kilometre walking, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing trail, cuts right through Whistler. This non-motorized, multi-use trail extends from Squamish, through Whistler, north through Pemberton and all the way to D'Arcy.
Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held. There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below. The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park). The adventurous can find the obscure trail that leads to both the top of the falls as well as, with great difficulty, to the base of the falls. For a unique and breathtaking spot to share a beer on the outskirts of Whistler, Alexander Falls surely ranks quite high. Of impressive waterfalls in the Whistler area, Alexander Falls is one of several spectacular ones. Others in the area include the amazing Brandywine Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Nairn Falls.
Callaghan Lake is not really a hiking destination but more of a drive to campsite on a beautiful lake, and gateway to some beautiful intermediate hikes. The campsite is small and looks a bit like a parking lot with about 6 spots to put up a tent. There is a proper boat launch at the campsite and the lake is large and beautiful to paddle. Surrounded by snowy mountains and nice rock outcrops the lake is good for fishing. The hiking trails are minimal here due to the steepness and deep forest surrounding the lake. At the far end of the lake the rustic and steep Cirque Lake trail runs along the side of the crashing waterfall all the way to the breathtaking Cirque Lake. Callaghan Lake Provincial Park is a great mountain lake that is largely devoid of humanity. Even on a bustling weekend, you can paddle down the lake and in five minutes be far from the world.
Northair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest. Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine. You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park, which is just a couple kilometres away. Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company the Northair Group. The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982. Northair Mine is tricky to find and even when you near it, the turnoff is not obvious. However, once you find it, it is quite a sight. The area that encompasses Northair Mine is huge. About 2 kilometres long, edged by a cliff on one side and a beautiful lake on the other. A nice, smooth gravel road runs through the area, along the edge of the lake toward Whistler Olympic Park.
Skookumchuck Hot Springs, open year-round and located two hours north of Whistler along the edge of the huge Lillooet River.The name Skookumchuck means "strong water" in the language of the Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest. The name is associated with the hot springs because of the nearby First Nation community of Skatin, which was once called Skookumchuck. The Skookumchuck Hot Springs were also once known as St. Agnes Well during the days of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, but that name has fallen into disuse. They are also known locally by the Skatin name as the T'sek Hot Springs. See a short history of Skookumchuck Hot Springs here. The hot springs start in a pool which is far to hot to use so there are a network of tubes emanating from this pool to feed a ramshackle array of tubs. There are five tubs, which include one very large one under an A-frame which could hold 10 people and is beautifully comfortable..
Sloquet Hot Springs is a wonderfully wild set of shallow, man-made pools fed by a small, all natural, and very hot, waterfall. The pools stretch from the waterfall to the large and crashing Sloquet River. The large, spread out campsite for the hot springs lies a short 5 minute walk from the springs. You have to follow a dark and quickly descending trail toward the crashing river. As you near, you can smell the unusual, but kind of nice hot springs scent, and you see steam rising all around you, some steam rising, bizarrely, out of the grass clearing on the edge of the river. On your left a rising cliff, on your right the crashing river. The path narrows and steepens, leading to a large fallen tree which the trail seems to run to. So huge though as to not worry you walking the length of. Then, there it is. The massive fallen tree flanks it. Nestled between the tree and a cliff, in a large triangular area, with the river forming the third side are the Sloquet Hot Springs.
Madeley Lake is a well hidden, though easily drivable lake in the beautiful Callaghan Valley. Unlike the terrible gravel road (4x4 recommended) to Callaghan Lake, the relatively smooth gravel road to Madeley Lake is drivable by car (relatively easily and safely). Just a 10 minute drive from the main, paved road to Whistler Olympic Park, Madeley makes a great side-trip on the way to or from the very popular 2010 Olympic attraction. Just metres past the turnoff to Alexander Falls, turn left at the sign for Callaghan Lake Provincial Park. Cross the bridge and follow the terrible logging road for about three minutes, turn right at the first logging road that branches off to the right. Follow this logging road for about 10 minutes until Madeley Lake appears on your right. There is a large map board at the trailhead to Hanging Lake, Rainbow Lake and Sproatt Mountain. You can park here or continue past this and drive to the end of the lake and small campsite area.
Logger's Lake is an amazing little lake hidden up in the deep forest above the more well known Cheakamus River. The lake, almost unbelievably exists in a long extinct volcano. However, as soon as you see the lake up close, you quickly come to believe it. The lake sits in an almost cartoonish looking, volcano-shaped bowl, with one side of the bowl a crumbling array of truck sized boulders leading down to the lake. The crater that Logger's Lake sits in was a volcano that pushed through the glacial ice in this valley about 10000 years ago. As the lava cooled it formed the wonderful basalt ridge that is crumbling into valley. As Logger's Lake sits deep in this ancient volcano's vent, it is sheltered from the wind and soaks up the suns rays into the dark boulders all around. As a result makes it the warmest lake in Whistler, though most other lakes around are glacier fed(via rivers and creeks), so the comparison is not entirely fair. The surrounding cliffs and forest also add to the tranquility of the lake. Located a bit off the radar for most and requiring a short logging road drive and then a very steep, but short hike to get to also contributes to its serenity.
Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the way to or from Whistler. The falls drop from a 66 metre, unnaturally abrupt cliff to the valley below. It is such a popular and beautiful sight that it is a Provincial Park, complete with a large and elaborate viewing platform directly opposite the falls. Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. If driving from Vancouver, keep your eyes out for the Brandywine Falls sign on your right about 25 minutes north of Squamish. The parking lot is immediately off the highway and the short 1 kilometre trail takes you over then alongside the Cheakamus River to the viewing area. The only facilities in the park are pit toilets and picnic tables and there is no charge for hiking or for parking your vehicle in the park.
Blackcomb Mountain has come alive with beautiful hiking trails in recent years. With the 2008 addition of the Peak to Peak Gondola which connects Blackcomb to Whistler, the demand for mountain trails is higher than ever. A dozen years ago, you would just have had some rough hiking trails to follow, and not many hikers to follow them. Now you have mapboards, trail signs, viewpoint seating areas and six popular, named trails to hike. The trails are mostly easy and relaxing, however the Decker Loop Trail at the far end of Blackcomb is very challenging and spectacularly scenic. For the most part, you will find yourself winding through a nice alpine forest scattered with enormous fields of erratics leading to one great viewpoint after another.
The short and often overlooked hiking trail to Rainbow Falls is located just a half kilometre from the Rainbow Lake trailhead. The trail begins by ascending into deep forest and the trail winds left, right, up and down constantly. 21 Mile Creek, always on your right can always be either seen or heard. 21 Mile Creek begins, 8 kilometres away as it drains from Rainbow Lake, making its way eventually to the River of Golden Dreams, before finally draining into Green Lake north of Whistler Village. A couple minutes into the Rainbow Trail and you come to a fork in the path. You can take either path as they rejoin further up the trail, however taking the right fork is more scenic and only a little more of a steep climb. A second fork in the trail appears a couple minutes later again, and once again taking the right fork is better. You will then come to a small trail sign indicating "Rainbow Falls". This short trail takes you to the little oasis that Rainbow Falls flows into.
The alpine hiking trails on Whistler Mountain are the ultimate in luxurious hiking. Little hiking effort gets you amazing views of turquoise lakes, snowy mountain, valleys of flowers, waterfalls and spectacular glaciers. In the summer months, Whistler Mountain is somewhat divided in two. The lower half of the mountain is for biking and the upper half is for hiking, sightseeing, trail running, eating and drinking. There are a few directions you can start hiking from the Roundhouse Lodge, however, taking the Peak Express(quad chairlift) up to the summit of Whistler Mountain is an amazing place to start. The Peak Express is an exhilarating ride that takes you to the start of Whistler Mountain's best hiking trails. The Half Note Trail, High Note Trail and Mathew's Traverse start here. The High Note Trail in turn leads to the Musical Bumps Trail to Russet Lake and Singing Pass in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above. The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock. Though the BC Parks website describes Nairn Falls as 60 metres high, the description is misleading. The falls crash through various narrow and wide areas, and though the cumulative drop is 60 metres, what you see is a series of 10 to 20 metre falls. There are a nicely constructed railing, fence and viewing area and walkway that guides you to the best views. With such abruptly steep rock all around, the area would be potentially dangerous. Evidently there have been deaths here before. A cross, reverently placed across the chasm from the viewing platform, indicates of some tragic event. Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just a short 20 minute drive north of Whistler.
It is hard to say enough about the Whistler Train Wreck. It is fantastic for so many reasons. First, its location. Just a short 10 minute drive gets you to the trailhead parking, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway in Function Junction on Alpha Lake Road. The hike begins by walking south on the Flank Trail and within ten minutes you arrive at some amazing views of the Cheakamus River. The trail then runs along the river to more amazing river viewpoints before heading around a bend in the river and into the deep forest that is now home to the decades old train wreck. Once again phenomenal views of the crashing river and then the amazing train wrecks come into view. Graffiti style paint brings the dingy wreckage to life with shockingly beautiful colours. The huge wrecks are enormous up close and mangled. Some on their sides, some upside down. Each one (there are several) is an interesting adventure to explore. A sort of wilderness art exhibit.
Cheakamus River is the beautiful, crashing and turquoise coloured river that flows from Cheakamus Lake, through the Cheakamus Valley to Daisy Lake. Also a popular kayaking route, the main attraction to Cheakamus River is the wonderful and quite extensive network of hiking and biking trails that run along either side of it. Several trails run throughout the forest around the enormous 70 kilometre length of Cheakamus River including the Cheakamus Lake trail, the Whistler Train Wreck trail and the Sea to Sky Trail. For the most part, however, if you are talking about the Cheakamus River trails you are likely talking about the Farside and Riverside trails in Whistler's Interpretive Forest.
Ancient Cedars often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler. Certainly the large numbers of centuries old, massive cedars found in much of the other Whistler area hikes makes looking for them on a specific hike less of a priority. For example, hike the short 3k trail to Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars. The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the Ancient Cedars Trail. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler.
Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and free hiking trails and Parkhurst Ghost Town certainly ranks as one of the most unusual. Parkhurst was a little logging town perched on the edge of Green Lake way before Whistler was Whistler. Up on the ridge where Parkhurst sits, the views are sensational. Green lake far below, a solid unnatural looking mass of green. Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains out in the distance to the left and Rainbow Mountain across and beyond the lake. What makes Parkhurst such a great hiking trail and destination is where it is located and the wonderful journey to get to it. One route, one of several ways to get to it, runs along the scenic Green River and next to the still active train tracks that run through Whistler. There always seems to be something to see. From the beautiful meadow along the train tracks, to the suddenly deep forest where you have to play a game of finding the next, pink tree marker or risk wandering off the trail.
Cheakamus Lake is an easy, relaxing hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park just a short, 16k drive from Whistler Village. The trail to the lake is in an amazing forest of giant cedars. The first 3k of the trail takes you along the beautiful Cheakamus River to the start of Cheakamus Lake and the first campsite area. There are 10 very nice and hidden tent pads on or near the lake shore. There is excellent water from several creeks in the area and a bear proof food hang as well as tidy outhouses here. Another 3k further on the trail takes you to some beautiful viewpoints on the ever increasingly majestic Cheakamus Lake trail. One of the most scenic and easy trails in Whistler. You see plenty of enormous trees and bear sightings are frequent!
Whistler Hiking Trails by Difficulty - Moderately Challenging
Keyhole Hot Springs, just a few kilometres up from the turnoff to Meager, are in an amazingly beautiful setting. There are two cemented tubs into the rock perched on the edge of Lillooet River. These are the most beautiful, however there are several more possible springs to be had close by. There is a fabulous sandy area between the cliff and the river where hot spring water bubbles from the sand. There is a shovel here to dig yourself a beautiful pool and channel river water in as needed to moderate the temperature. There is also a small fire pit as well as several log seats. Keyhole Hot Springs are very popular which can be seen by the elaborate hot springs layout as well as the huge campground area in the deep forest, high above the hot springs about a 10 minute walk away. Signs of semi-permanent dwellings can be seen in stages of ruin, but overall the campsite area is amazing. With the exception of being dark due to the thick forest and fresh water a steep, 5 minute walk away, it is perched on a wonderful cliff with great views of the river below and cliff and mountains and waterfalls across.
The High Note Trail begins high up on Whistler Mountain at the top of the Peak Chair. 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 Chair. Ride this beautiful and alarmingly steep chairlift up to Whistler's Peak where the High Note Trail begins. The trail begins with some narrow, rocky and fairly steep ups and downs as you hike out to the edge of a rock outcrop with amazing views to the valley and Whistler below. Though there are two small chain-assist sections, most should have no difficulty. 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.
Joffre Lakes is one of the most beautiful lakes you are likely to ever see. There are three lakes and they get progressively more beautiful. By the third lake the intense blue is breathtaking. The mighty Matier Glacier rises above the third lake, making the experience even more spectacular. The trail is rough and tricky in some parts, but not terribly difficult. The trail is 5.5k to the third lake so give yourself 1.5 - 2 hours(one way). Lots of trail construction work is being done as a new trail replaces much of the old trail. The old boulder section between the lower and middle lakes has now been covered with a new dirt trail. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is centred around the three Joffre Lakes. All of them are beautiful on their own and each more beautiful than the last.
Taylor Meadows is a beautiful Garibaldi Park campsite and alternative to the much busier Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in between Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk itself. It is reached from the same trailhead to Garibaldi Lake. There are 40 very nice tent platforms, toilets, a good water source and a food cache, all in the lush forest of Taylor Meadows with the distant view of Black Tusk. Generally Taylor Meadows is not a destination, but part of a circle route. For example, trailhead to Taylor Meadows, Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, then return via Garibaldi Lake. This makes for a long hike at 30k, which is why tenting at this perfectly beautiful, and perfectly located Taylor Meadows Campsite, is a great idea.
Garibaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The Garibaldi Lake campsite is located on the amazing, turquoise shores of this massive and mostly undisturbed mountain lake. There are no trails around the perimeter of the lake with the exception of the small section leading to the campsite, so your view of the lake is a sea of unnaturally coloured water ringed by swaths of forest and a magnificent glacier towering in the distance. The water is painfully cold, though plenty of brave hikers swim here as well as camp. The camping area is well laid out and stretches deep into the forest with 50 tent clearings. You can, except for the busiest of days, put your tent out of earshot and sight of others. The trail to Garibaldi Lake from the Rubble Creek trailhead, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway takes about two hours. You gain a fair amount of elevation, 900 metres in just 9 kilometres, trailhead to lake.
Helm Creek is a beautiful, meandering creek that winds its way from beyond Black Tusk, down the valley to the wonderful campground that takes its name. From the Helm Creek Campground it descends further along the Helm Creek Trail, until it joins the Cheakamus River near where it leaves Cheakamus Lake. The location of Helm Creek Campground has two tremendous advantages. First it is just a great location in Garibaldi Park. About halfway between Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk it lays in some amazingly scenic areas. Beautiful, climbable mountains all around. Amazing fields of snow that run all the way to the base of Black Tusk. Rivers, creeks and waterfalls everywhere you turn. And the campground area itself is very nice. A large, grassy field ringed by trees and Helm Creek. The area really has no trails except the Helm Creek trail that runs past it, but there are infinitely numerous directions you can wander. Exploring in any direction takes you to more and more pristine, green fields, streams, pocket lakes and mountain views.
Rainbow Lake is one of the original hiking trails in Whistler that has existed well before Whistler was called Whistler. The 8k trail is challenging though beautiful as it passes through an impressively huge forest of giant trees. There are several wonderful bridge crossings and crashing river views. Rainbow Lake itself is surreal and beautiful. An unnaturally bright, green meadow extends from one side of the lake and a field of starkly white erratics litter the landscape along the shores of the crystal clear lake. Rainbow Lake is Whistler's water source so swimming, fishing, dogs and camping are not allowed. There are, you will quickly notice upon reaching Rainbow Lake, that a trail continues past the lake then forks. The right fork takes you to the right and to the popular, though difficult scramble to the summit of Rainbow Mountain. In the same direction you can bear left on the Rainbow Mountain trail and after about 3k you will arrive at the secluded, pristine and wonderful, Hanging Lake.
Brandywine Meadows is a nice hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in the Callaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in less than 3k (trailhead to meadows). The trailhead is tricky to find and involves a very sketchy gravel road journey that is passable without a 4x4, but barely. The sometimes very steep route is strewn with potholes, washouts and plenty of boulder sections. If you are happy driving up steep gravel roads with soccer ball sized boulders scattered throughout, then you will be ok driving the last 1.5k to the trailhead. The hike takes you to the beautiful Brandywine Meadows stretching into the distance along a cute, meandering river. The valleys far end leads to Brandywine Mountain.
Whistler Hiking Trails by Difficulty - Challenging & Difficult
Brew Lake and Mount Brew are well hidden in the mountains beyond Brandywine Meadows. More often frequented in the winter by skiers, the area is slowly becoming noticed in the summer months. The barely marked trailhead that lurks next to the train tracks just south of Brandywine Falls has given way to a much better access point further up the trail. The Brew Main Road off of the Sea to Sky Highway just north of the turnoff to Brandywine Falls takes you high into the hills to the well concealed Brew Lake trail. From your car to the lake you just have beautiful two hour hike packed with sights and thoroughly exhausting. There are no facilities at the lake, just a beautiful wilderness paradise. If you want civilized comfort, hike up towards Mount Brew and you will come to the Brew Hut.
Cirque Lake is an unbelievably beautiful paradise high up above Callaghan Lake in the Callaghan Valley. It requires a canoe to get you to the trailhead at the far end of Callaghan Lake and therefore is seldom hiked. The trailhead is tricky to find and the 2 kilometre trail is very steep, though surprisingly well marked with flagging tape. Once at the lake you find yourself in the wind shadow of the cirque and in a world of serenity and calm. It is an extraordinary thing to have a cirque valley to yourself. Feels like you are standing in a volcano of sorts. But a giant, tree filled meadow of a volcano with a mesmerisingly still and perfectly reflecting lake at its centre. A cirque lake is a wonderful thing, and Cirque Lake in Whistler takes you as close to a hiking paradise as a place can get. And that is just the beginning... you can hike in almost any direction. Thirty minutes past the lake and you find yourself staring at a monstrous glacier.
If you were to search your whole life for an absolutely amazing, astoundingly perfect, alpine hiking paradise, you'd have trouble finding a place as great as Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park. To start with, the lake is breathtaking. Every angle you look at it and every hour of the day it alters its appearance dramatically. From its wonderful turquoise, marble-like appearance reflecting bronze mountains at sunrise and sunset. To its startlingly vivid appearance in the darkness of night. Reflecting stars are as clear looking down on the lake as they are looking up at the sky. The massive valley that contains Wedgemount Lake is ringed by impressive mountains and the ever-present Wedgemount Glacier that continuously pulls your attention to it.
Panorama Ridge is arguably the most amazing hike in Garibaldi Park. It certainly is in the top 5 of the best hikes in Whistler. Usually accessed by the Rubble Creek (Garibaldi Lake) trailhead, just off the Sea to Sky Highway 30 minutes south of Whistler. The hike to Panorama Ridge is comparatively long at 15k trailhead to ridge, but there is plenty to marvel at along the way. In the summer this area is flower-filled and beautiful in every direction. The campsite stares up at the iconic Black Tusk. The right fork takes you first along the Barrier. An extraordinary buttress of rock that holds back a potentially devastating debris slide. You may have noticed the trailhead sign indicating that camping at the parking lot is prohibited as it is directly in the path of a potential debris flow. Past the Barrier viewpoint you can take a short side-trail to Garibaldi Lake or continue on and eventually the forked trail that led to Taylor Meadows meets with the Garibaldi Lake trail and the single trail continues to Black Tusk and then Panorama Ridge beyond.
Ring Lake is a fantastically beautiful and wonderfully remote lake similar to Cirque Lake but considerably farther to hike to reach it. The 10k hike takes you through a beautiful forest of cedars then to a spectacular meadow filled with ponds and ringed with distant, enormous mountains. 5k into the hike you come to Conflict Lake with trails running around it. Signs at various junctions indicate which trail to take to reach Ring Lake, a further 5k from Conflict. The trail from Conflict Lake to Ring Lake passes through a huge valley for a couple kilometres, then abruptly ascends on the right side of the valley. The trail is poorly marked in this section and you have to keep bearing right to avoid descending back into the valley. 3k of, at times very steep, but not technical trail gets you to the magnificent Ring Lake and the imposing Ring Mountain across the emerald green water.
Black Tusk is the amazing pinnacle of volcanic rock visible for hundreds of kilometres and located near the centre of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Black Tusk, along with the Chief in Squamish are the most astoundingly noticeable peaks in the Garibaldi Range. 170,000 years ago the Black Tusk was created when a lava dome formed within a million year old, volcanic cinder cone. The cinder cone is crumbling away, revealing the starkly black, hardened lava dome within. Looking at the Black Tusk from a distance, two things seem incredible. First, that such an unusual thing formed, and second that there is a trail that takes you to its peak. With a little sketchy and dangerous, though non technical climbing, you can get to the top of Black Tusk. It is a fairly long dayhike as you cover 27k on the roundtrip hike. The final ascent of Black Tusk is a bit scary and dangerous so be prepared. You have to climb a narrow, steep and crumbly chute up about 10 metres to reach the top.
Russet Lake, in Garibaldi Park is the wonderfully expansive hiking area located just a few spectacular steps from Whistler. Among the various ways to reach Russet Lake, possibly the most impressive are the approaches from either the Musical Bumps Trail or the High Note Trail. Both begin from high up on Whistler Mountain. Musical Bumps starts near the Roundhouse on Whistler and the High Note Trail begins at the top of Whistler near the Peak Chair. 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.
Mount Sproatt, or as it is known locally as simply "Sproatt", is one of the many towering mountains visible from Whistler Village. Above and beyond Alta Lake, directly across from Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain. Next time you walk through Whistler Village and cross the pedestrian bridge with Village Gate Boulevard below you, you will see Mount Sproatt from this excellent vantage point. It is the rocky giant, abruptly steep on one end and gently sloping on the other. What you can't see from Whistler Village is the extraordinarily beautiful alpine paradise that lays beyond it. Lakes and tarns everywhere you look. Fields of alpine flowers and wonderfully mangled, yet strikingly beautiful forests of krummholz. Hostile looking fields of boulders and absurdly placed erratics the size of RV's. Beyond, of course, endless stunning view of distant, snowy mountains. From the towering elevation of much of the Sproatt Alpine Trail you often look across or even down on distant mountains. Rainbow Mountain looks incredible from much of the trail. Jagged grey peaks in a row(pictured left) face you from Rainbow Mountain, just 5 kilometres away.