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Aerial Views of Whistler and Garibaldi Park Hiking Trails

Panorama Ridge Aerial Video - Whistler TrailsMeager Slide Aerial Video - Whistler TrailsParkhurst Ghost Town Aerial Video - Whistler Trails

Whistler area hiking trails are even more impressive from a sweeping, aerial view.  From the jagged, hostile peaks of Mount Sproatt, Whistler and Blackcomb.  To the the hilariously surreal looking Logger's Lake, Whistler has a dizzying variety of beautiful, natural wonders.

Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish - Whistler AerialThe Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish opened in the spring of 2014 and has rapidly exceeded expectations.  In June the number of season passes sold numbered more than 4000.  A number which seems to have more than doubled confident estimates.  Located between Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and Shannon Falls Provincial Park the gondola carries you rapidly from the sea to the sky.  Departing just a few hundred metres from the ocean at an elevation of 35 metres, to 885 metres in just 10 minutes.  In early June you will still feel the chill in the air from the snowy mountain peaks all around.  The deluxe, shiny and new gondolas comfortably seat 8 and the entire 10 minute ride gives you stunning views of Howe Sound, the three summits of the Chief on your left, and distant snowy mountains up ahead.  The gondola cabins are almost entirely windows so no matter where you sit you have amazing views.  If you are driving from Vancouver the large and easy to spot, Sea to Sky Gondola parking lot is just 45 minutes from Vancouver.  Just off of the Sea to Sky Highway, look for the entrance just past the Shannon Falls Provincial Park entrance or just a couple hundred metres before the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park entrance.  Parking is free, however they Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish - Whistler Aerialhave signs that indicate that if you plan on parking more than 3 hours you should park at the Shannon Falls parking lot instead.  This is a good option as well if you want to take a look at Shannon Falls as well.  You can park there, see the amazing Shannon Falls and continue walking to the Sea to Sky Gondola along the connecting trail in less than 15 minutes.   At the top of the gondola you arrive at the spectacular Summit Lodge.  You immediately are drawn to enter this cliff-edge building with a restaurant, coffee shop, bar and an enormous sundeck that stretches around half of the building.  The sundeck has dozens of tables and of course views of everything.  Gondola's coming and going, Howe Sound, Sky Pilot and Co-Pilot(mountains).  At one end of the sundeck the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge extends across a chasm to a rocky outcrop in the direction of Sky Pilot Mountain.  The amazing Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge takes you across to the Spirit Trail and your first of several massive and stunning viewing areas and the start of an interpretive tour of this wonderful forest.  Everywhere you turn you see an interesting, written description of what surrounds you as well as frequent park benches to sit and enjoy the view.

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Northair Mine in Whistler - Aerial ViewNorthair 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(see the map here for directions).  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.  Another gravel road runs through the massive cement foundations of what must have been Northair Mine Aerial Viewquite a large building.  Beautiful graffiti art covers some of the cement pilings and scattered remnants indicate that this skeleton of a building has been home to its share of gatherings since being abandoned.  Whistler's cherished Flank Trail passes right by Northair Mine near its terminus at Whistler Olympic Park.  Although, the Flank Trail effectively ends far south of the Northair Mine, it piggybacks on the logging road that extends up and past the mine.  With the massive construction that preceded the 2010 Olympics, the Callaghan Valley had a luxuriously wide, paved road built high up into the mountains here.  This road has become a destination in its own with its wide sweeping arcs revealing wonderful views, one after the other.  Though Black Tusk can be seen from many vantage points, seeing it from the drive up the Callaghan Valley has got to be one of the best ways to view it from your car.

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Sproatt Alpine Trail Campsite VideoMount 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.  At the far end(Northair Mine) side of the trail you can 4x4 very close to some amazing alpine lakes(shown here) to camp beside.  Less than an hours hike will then get you to paradise.  Alternatively, you can hike the Alpine Sproatt Trail from the Whistler side and hike to the alpine in a couple hours(about 5k to the alpine).  There is an alpine hut near the Callaghan Valley(Northair Mine) end of the trail.  It is owned by Canadian Wilderness Adventures as their snowmobile hut.

Sproatt Alpine Trail Aerial Video from Tonic Peak

Canadian has a tenure in the area to run snowmobile tours here in the winter.  There is a lock on the door, however it has an amazing view of the valley below and Sproatt Lake, and stopping there for lunch on their sundeck is very scenic.  Out of courtesy to Canadian Wilderness Adventures, you should not disturb anything of theirs.  There is a nice trail from the hut to Sproatt Lake that you will see from the hut's sundeck.  It descends down the valley and only takes about 8 minutes to the lake.  The hut is located just past a trail junction and large clearing where you will see a large mapboard and atv tracks through the mud and grass.  The new Sproatt Alpine Trail branches off to the right just before this clearing and the hut is straight past the clearing and mapboard(see maps here).

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Madeley Lake is an amazing place to camp.  If looking for solitude at a paradise, mountain lake, Madeley Lake is hard to beat.  Though somewhat popular with fishingMadeley Lake - Whistler Aerial Videos, you are still likely to rarely see anyone at the lake in the summer and never in the fall.  Once in a while you will see a car or two at the trailhead to Hanging Lake.  If you have a canoe, Madeley is a great place to paddle around or just float in the sun.  There is a long forgotten campsite around the far end of the lake that you can walk to in about 5 minutes.  Some old picnic tables, fire rings, several tent clearings and a beautiful gravel, sun-facing beach.  A wonderfully crashing creek runs along the trail and campsite making the area absurdly idyllic.  If you are motivated the Madeley Lake trail runs around the back of the lake from the campsite and up to Hanging Lake, then on to Rainbow Lake.  If you can manage it, get someone to drop you off at Madeley, then spend a weekend hiking through paradise and come out at Rainbow Park on Alta Lake!  You can even do it in a day in about 8-9 hours at a somewhat relaxed pace.  There are signs the entire way(except around the Madeley Lake campsite where there are none).

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Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and free hiking trails and Parkhurst Ghost Town certainly ranks as one of the most unusual, exotic and interesting.  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.  The small logging town called Parkhurst came into being in 1926 when the Barr Brothers Logging Company purchased the land from a recent widow looking to sell.  Mrs Parkhurst sold the land and a small house which quickly transformed into several small houses, bunkhouses and a steam powered mill on the point of land that still conspicuously juts out from the shore.  Soon there were 70 loggers working the mill and living much of the year in the town that was now named after the original owners of the land, the Parkhurst's.

Parkhurst Ghost Town Aerial View

The Great Depression hit the logging industry hard and unable to sell what they produced and the mill went into receivership.  In 1932 the mill was purchased by another logging company and was back in business under a new name, Northern Mills.  It was to be short lived however, as a fire destroyed the mill in 1938.  It was rebuilt and the town once again grew in size to include a school and a store.  Parkhurst continued as a small logging town until the logging industry slowed down in the 1950's and in the 1966 Parkhurst was finally abandoned.  If you have a good look around Parkhurst today, you can find remnants of its past almost everywhere you look.  From the old disintegrating truck from the 50's to the absurdly and improbably located car being consumed by the forest.  What makes Parkhurst Ghost Town such a great hiking trail and destination is where it is located and the trail 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.

Green Lake in Whistler Aerial View

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.  The trail markers are numerous, and though getting lost is inevitable, you can only stray a few metres before, the river or steep terrain push you back onto the marked trail.  Once up on the ridge above Green Lake where Parkhurst is located, the forest takes on a spooky feel.  Trees are all far apart and with branches only high up give the forest a unnaturally lifeless look.

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Whistler Train Wreck Aerial View of Cheakamus RiverDecades ago a train derailed south of Whistler.  The cost to clean up the mess was evidently deemed too high, so seven train cars were left scattered next to the Cheakamus River.  As it turns out, time and local effort has transformed this mess into a wonderful work of art, an extraordinary bike park, and a great place to hike.  The Whistler Train Wreck. Cheakamus River winds its way, crashing and emerald green along the length of the Whistler Train Wreck, and there are several spectacular river vantage points that shouldn't be missed.  The whole length of the train wreck and Cheakamus River hike is 3 kilometres (each way) and the trails go along the beautiful river as well as several, widely spaced train wrecks.  The Whistler Train Wreck trailhead is best reached by starting at the easy to find, Flank Trail trailhead in Function Junction, just 8k south of Whistler Village.  The Flank Trail trailhead is easy to spot.  A small "Flank Trail" sign sits at the edge of Alpha Lake Road just before Alpha Lake Road bends sharply right.  The Flank Trail immediately runs into the deep forest as it follows the river away from Function Junction.  There trail is easy to follow and well used.  There is only one part of the trail that may get you lost.

Aerial Video of Cheakamus River at Whistler Train Wreck

The first part of the Train Wreck is not train wreckage, but instead some amazing views of the Cheakamus River.  This extraordinarily beautiful river crashes violently through here and various viewpoints can be found along the trail.  After a few amazing viewpoints, the Cheakamus River forces you back towards the train tracks.  Walk past this bend in the river by keeping well left of, off and away from the train tracks.  The trail picks up again on the left and descends into the forest again.  This is the stretch of forest that contains seven train wrecked cars strewn over one kilometre.  Some perched at the edge of Cheakamus River and others mangled against trees.  It is amazing to see the impossibility of where they rest.. with huge trees all around.  In the decades since they crashed and wrecked here, trees have grown all around.  In the fall of 2014 a new suspension bridge will be built, linking the Whistler Train Wreck trail to Trash Trail on the opposite side of Cheakamus River.  Pictured below is the location on the Trash Trail side where construction should begin in August.

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Wedgemount Lake Aerial Views

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