March Hiking & Snowshoeing
Whistler in March is often metres deep in snow and occasionally sunny and warm. Snowshoeing without needing a jacket is a marvelous thing. 2015 saw the least snowfall in recent memory, opening up hiking in the valley very early. 2016 saw considerable spring snow slowing the start of the hiking season. 2017 was a monster year for snowfall in Whistler, a much more normal accumulation of snow than in recent years. Years like this mean that you will have to navigate through some deep snow sections of many trails as late as early July!
March days get considerably longer and warmer than February. Plenty of snow has already fallen in Whistler in the 2016/2017 winter, and in the past, for example, March of 2012, over four metres of snow fell in this single month! Regardless of how much snow falls in March, the higher trails in Whistler and Garibaldi Park will probably not be free of snow well into June and possibly early July. With some sunny days mixed into these heavy snowfall days, makes March something amazing. in North Vancouver is a fantastic day trip from Whistler. It only takes about an hour and 20 minutes to get to the snowshoeing trailhead at Cypress Mountain Ski Resort. With all the services available there, you would expect there to be parking and trail use charges, but there are none for the Hollyburn Mountain trail. You can park metres from the trailhead for free and if you don't have snowshoes rent them there for quite a good price. There are a couple other good Vancouver hiking options, such as , more difficult and longer than Hollyburn and the trailhead is located close to the Hollyburn trailhead. Dog Mountain and Suicide Bluffs are great in March as well. The trailhead is located at the Seymour Ski Resort in Vancouver. If you are not too into snowshoeing, the Lighthouse Trail in Vancouver is amazing, and snow free year-round and only, just over an hours drive from Whistler. It has an amazing array of trails that run through a beautiful and deep rainforest with several beautiful ocean vantage points. The hiking trails run from 2k to 10k in distance so you can make the hike as short or as long as you want. Take a look at the best places to see on the way to or from Vancouver and Whistler here.. Closer to Whistler in Squamish is the trailhead to Elfin Lakes. If you have not done this hike you should make a point to do it soon. It is amazing, relatively easy and will amazing views high up in the mountains of Garibaldi Park. There is a popular ski route that goes from the Elfin Lakes Hut, past Garibaldi Lake called the Garibaldi Neve Traverse, that an increasing number of hikers do on snowshoes. Back in the deep March snow of Whistler you have an . If you have not been to the Whistler Train Wreck, you have to, it's a must see. An incredible 50 year old train wreck, turned art exhibit, turned bike park. It is an amazing surreal world hidden just a couple hundred metres from the busy Sea to Sky Highway, running along the spectacular Cheakamus River. The Garibaldi Lake area is fantastic in March. The lake is frozen over and the hike across the lake leads to an amazing hut at the far end which is available to use by anyone, though there is a small fee requested by the good people that help maintain it. Other amazing places to snowshoe in Whistler are the Blueberry Trail overlooking Alta Lake, the Rainbow Park trail on the shores of Alta Lake, with amazing views across to Whistler, Blackcomb and Wedge Mountains. Rainbow Falls is an easy and beautiful trail up to the crashing Rainbow Falls that you can reach out and touch. For a list of the best, easiest and free places to snowshoe in Whistler check here... And for more difficult, longer and beautiful snowshoeing places check here... The various hot springs near Whistler are also great destinations in April. Skookumchuck Hot Springs is open year-round and the two hour drive to reach it is really part of the fun. It is a beautiful drive through Pemberton, Mount Currie and along the beautiful and massive Lillooet Lake and Lillooet River. Sloquet Hot Springs is an hours drive past Skookumchuck and extraordinarily beautiful and desolate. Though gaining popularity, the remoteness of these two hot springs almost guarantees no one there but you on a typical March day. You can normally drive right to the Sloquet Hot Springs, but lingering snow on the unmaintained logging road may be too deep, so always be prepared to hike up to 8 kilometres if needed from your car to the campsite. Though bumpy and with lots of potholes, the road to Skookumchuck and Sloquet are still drive-able with all types of cars. March is also a great month to see some of the fantastic waterfalls in and around Whistler. Brandywine, Nairn, Rainbow and Alexander Falls are all within a short drive and with easy hikes to them, accessible year-round. Shannon Falls is also a must see, year-round sight in Squamish if you have the time on your drive by to or from Whistler.
Walking Trails and Lakeside Parks
There are several walkable parks from Whistler Village
If you would rather just head out from the Village on foot and wander the beautiful and snow plowed Valley Trail that takes you past several of Whistler's amazing lakes and parks. The Valley Trail is wide, paved, well signed and even with street lights in some areas for the dark winter and spring nights. The parks shown can be driven to, however, descriptions and maps show you how to get to them on foot(or bike), the more scenic and beautiful way. Lost Lake Park is one of several beautiful beach parks in Whistler on the Valley Trail. You can reach all these parks by car or better yet you set out on foot or by bike from Whistler Village. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
The Flank Trail in March
One of the best ways to see Blackcomb and Whistler mountains from afar
Trails run so abundant in Whistler that many go unnoticed, neglected or taken for granted. The Flank Trail is one of these. Most people in Whistler don't even know about it, but the ones that do, love it.
The Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail runs the length of Whistler Valley, opposite Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Flanking both these enormous mountains, the Flank Trail is the inspiration for an ever-growing number of trails that run to it, from it, and across it.
From the Callaghan Valley, far south of Whistler, near Whistler Olympic Park it begins(or ends). It then stretches 40 kilometres along the flank of the massive and sprawling Mount Sproatt, then Rainbow Mountain, where it finally terminates near Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes.
Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes are well north of Whistler Village and adjacent to Green Lake.
The 40 kilometre trail takes you past some pretty amazing sights. From the beginning, Whistler Olympic Park is interesting and beautiful. Sitting high up in the Callaghan Valley and built for the 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler Olympic Park is an impressive, civilized oasis in an otherwise thick forest wilderness.
Open year-round, this metropolis in the woods, depending on the season is home to cross country skiing, snowshoeing, a biathlon experience, a surprisingly nice cafe, and endless trails to see the Olympic sights. Not least the giant ski jump that you can get up close to to appreciate its enormity.
Just a short hike from Whistler Olympic Park on the Flank Trail takes you past the long abandoned Northair Mine. This briefly thriving gold mine is now an unusual little world in the woods.