Ancient Cedars & Showh Lakes
Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars.often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler. Certainly there are other groves of massive cedars found in other Whistler area hikes. If you hike the short 3k trail to
The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an on the Valley Trail at the north end of the Whistler Golf Club.
None of them compare, however, to thehike. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. Most of these giants stretch toward the sky, but some lay along the forest floor giving you an even closer grasp of their size. If you bring kids along, they will disappear into the endless, natural playground.
The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5k up a bumpy logging road. As logging roads go it is not bad. If you are driving a car you should be OK as long as you take it slow.
Theis well marked and well worn and only gradually uphill for the 2.5k hike, trailhead to ancient forest. At the Ancient Cedars forest there is a short circle trail that takes you throughout the giants then leads you back to the main trail for the return journey.
The whole trail takes you through the tranquil and remote forest that hides up on the far side of Cougar Mountain. Cougar Mountain is home to TAG and Superfly Ziplines. The rows of atv's you will pass while driving up the Cougar Mountain Forest Service Road will belong to TAG. Superfly Ziplines is worth a look here too as they boast the "Longest, highest, fastest ziplines in Canada."
The whole 5k Ancient Cedars roundtrip should take you less than two hours. Unlike most other Whistler hiking trails,is dog friendly. Unfortunately snow makes the road undrivable much of the year, so you can only reliably get up there around mid June to early to mid November.
The main attraction to the Ancient Cedars trail is of course the monster cedars at the end of the trail. The trail itself is scenic and at least a couple times the forest opens up to some great views of the Soo Valley and snow capped mountains beyond. With the trail improvements in late 2013, you will now find more trail signs and kilometre markers. Some interpretive information about the beautiful forest around and above you, as well as some strategically placed benches to sit and appreciate the grandeur of the trees.
The obvious draw of Ancient Cedars trail tends to make hikers overlook the connecting trail to Showh Lakes. After hiking to Ancient Cedars, halfway along the trail take the connecting trail to Showh Lakes(sometimes known as Showh Lake and Cougar Lake).
The trail runs along the left side of the larger lake on your right and then veers left, crosses a creek and circles around the smaller lake on your left where it connects with the logging road and Showh Lakes parking area. You can either follow the road back to your car at the Ancient Cedars trailhead or continue rounding this smaller Showh Lake and rejoin the main trail you came in on and hike back to your car.
Showh Lakes are very remote and wild feeling lakes which certainly ads to their draw as fishing lakes. They are stocked with trout every year and your average summer day will find a couple fly fishermen out on the water floating inside those funny little one-man rubber float tubes having a great time catching lots of fish. Swimming is not the best at Showh Lakes, however, the wonderful remote setting more than makes up for the lack of inviting beach.
Parking, Hiking & Camping Details
To find the Ancient Cedars trailhead, zero your odometer at Village Gate Boulevard in Whistler village then drive north on Highway 99, towards Pemberton. At 8.4km you will see a logging road on your left, 16 Mile Creek FSR and more recently called Cougar Mountain Rd, turn here and continue straight for 4.5 kilometres until you see the sign for the trailhead. In this road was very bad with potholes after you pass the tour operators. In late 2013, the road was smoothed over and now much more comfortable to drive in a car. The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is well marked.
There is another parking area at Showh Lakes just a couple hundred metres further up, but if you are hiking to Ancient Cedars this is the best one to use. Also, getting to Showh Lakes requires driving a very bad 4x4 only section.
There are no dedicated camping options in and around Ancient Cedars, however you can find some very rugged areas to put up a tent well away from the Ancient Cedars trail. The tent shown below is just a few dozen metres off of the main trail and has an amazing view over Showh Lakes. Down at Showh Lakes you will find several good spaces for a tent.. but it takes a little looking, and none are exceptional. The terrain is too irregular and just not ideal for camping, however there is a good clearing in the forest just before you arrive at the far lake. What the lakes lack in flat, tent-friendly ground, they more than make up for with amazing wilderness serenity. With the exception of seasonal engine sounds from atv's or snowmobiles, you will rarely see or hear any hint of mankind. If you are a fan of taking your 4x4 to your campsite, Showh Lakes will suit you as well. Depending on your 4x4, you may be able to drive right to where you plan to camp. If not, you will just have to park a 3 minute walk from where you camp. Either way, it is a very convenient and unexpectedly remote feeling, wilderness setting to camp for free, so close to Whistler.
Another decent place to camp would be back down to the Sea to Sky Highway, turn left(north) and in a couple kilometres watch for the Wedgemount Lake turnoff on your right. Turn here and cross the train tracks and park next to the Green River. There are several places on both sides of the river that are very nice and perfect for a tent. If you are more adventurous, cross the river and turn right. Drive along this bumpy logging road for about 1 kilometre, pass Whistler Paintball on your left and at the yellow gate, park on the clearing on the right. You will see the Sea to Sky Trail head up along the gated gravel road. If instead you follow the old gravel road on the right. After a few hundred metres running parallel to the train tracks, you will come to the Parkhurst Trail, leading to Parkhurst Ghost Town and a very interesting and beautiful place to camp overlooking Green Lake.
Further north on the Sea to Sky Highway you will come to Nairn Falls Provincial Park. This is a huge, pay-to-use campground with plenty of facilities and located on Green River, just a short hike to Nairn Falls. In Whistler, just north of the Village near the south end of Green Lake, is Riverside Resort. This deluxe campground has tent spots on the Fitzsimmons River as well as RV camping, yurts and log cabins to rent. A bit pricey and often crowded in the summer with wall to wall RV's. But if you are OK with that, Riverside is pretty amazing.
There is an outhouse across from the trailhead to Ancient Cedars. The tour operators further down towards the highway turnoff may let you borrow their deluxe facilities if you ask nicely. A couple kilometres south on the Sea to Sky Highway, at the entrance Alpine, you will find the closest real washrooms. Alpine Cafe and Alpine Market are just off the highway(south from Ancient Cedars), turn right into Alpine and then immediately right again. The Alpine Cafe has been a locals favourite since it opened in 2004. A small, but very cute and warm feeling cafe with great coffee and lots of cafe style food for great prices. You will want to order everything on the menu. Open everyday 630am to 9pm.
Ancient Cedars is very dog friendly. This trail is less busy than the Garibaldi Park trails across the valley which don't allow dogs. The amazing Sea to Sky Trail is another dog friendly option close by. This 180 kilometre trail cuts right through Whistler and there are several access points. The closest access from Ancient Cedars is just north on the Sea to Sky Highway. Turn right at the sign for Wedgemount Lake, cross the train tracks and bridge over Green River and look for the Sea to Sky Trail signs. For a list of the best dog friendly hiking trails in Whistler try here..
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