Hiking

THERE'S A LITTLE-KNOWN GEM of a hiking trail, high above one of Whistler’s oldest neighbourhoods, that is a true alpine experience. Picture: alpine meadows, wildflowers, blue skies, rugged peaks, ancient glaciers, flowing streams, clean air. This hike has it all. Plus, you don’t have to travel far to get to the trailhead. You can access it from a local bus.

It’s called the Skywalk Trail. It’s new, built by volunteers mostly from the Alpine Club of Canada; it’s relatively undiscovered; and, it’s on many a “To Do” list this summer.

The trail is on Rainbow Mountain, not to be confused with the existing Rainbow Mountain hike. Skywalk is on the northeast side of the mountain. You can access it from the top of the Alpine Meadows neighbourhood.

One of the highlights along the way is Iceberg Lake, a tempting turquoise blue lake that takes your breath away.

You can turn back here or keep going on Skywalk north to Screaming Cat Lake and loop back. There are several loops and trails once you get up in the alpine. Do your research before you head out. See you on the Skywalk.

 

TIPS FOR SAFE ALPINE HIKING

1. Never hike alone.

2. Be prepared. Carry extra clothing.

3. Observe closures. Stay on marked trails to avoid damage to the ecosystem.

4. Steep slopes, snow and ice fields are very dangerous. You may encounter hazards such as cliffs, glaciers, crevasses and unstable surfaces.

5. Treat all wildlife with caution. Do not feed or approach bears.

6. Carry water, a snack, sunscreen and a watch.

7. No hiking permitted in the Bike Park.

8. Fires, dogs & camping are not allowed at Whistler Blackcomb. Visit Whistler Blackcomb Guest Services for current information.

 

Rainbow Lake — The big sign at the entrance on Alta Lake Road gives you some idea of the path ahead — 16 km round trip, six hours, elevation gain 850 metres. This is a great day hike up to Rainbow Lake. You’re on the west side of the valley on this hike and the views look back over town. You haven’t really seen Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains until you see them from this vantage point! It’s important to note that dogs are not allowed on this hike. This area is in Whistler’s watershed.

Cheakamus Lake — This is an “easy” hike into a beautiful blue glacier-fed lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Arguably suitable for everyone. You can park at the trailhead and then it’s only three km without much elevation gain before you get your first glimpse of the lake. It’s another four km along the trail to get to Singing Creek. Cheakamus Lake is the jumping off points to the Black Tusk Meadows and to Helm Creek.

Garibaldi Lake — Another must-do hike this summer to see the turquoise-coloured water of Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park. It’s an intermediate hike, about five hours round trip for 18 km. The elevation gain is 820 metres. Don’t forget to bring your camera along with all the other essentials. This is a place you will want to capture forever.

Wedgemount Lake — Still in Garibaldi Provincial Park but further north now. Again, the reward is a sparkling alpine lake at the end, circled by Wedgemount and Armchair Glaciers. Wedge Mountain, with its distinctive flat peak that inspired the name, lies to the south. It is the highest peak in the provincial park at 2,891 metres. This is a 14 km roundtrip hike taking 8-10 hours with an elevation change of 1,200 metres. It’s a lung-burning slog to get there but well worth the effort. The last stretch involves a steep climb up a boulder field.

 

BLACKCOMB TRAILS

 

ALPINE WALK

Length: 1.6km (0.96 mi): 60mins (round loop)

Elevation Change: 65 m (213ft)

Description: A gentle walking route that leads away from the Rendezvous Lodge with spectacular views of Fitzsimmons Valley through a sub-alpine forest. A trail for everyone.

 

OVERLORD TRAIL

Use this trail to access the Lakeside Loop trail for intermediate hikers and Decker Loop for advanced to expert hikers.

Length: 3.7km (2.27mi); 60-90mins (one way)

Elevation Change: 62m (203ft)

Description: Stretching into Garibaldi Provincial Park, this two way trail is the main connecting route to all of Blackcomb Mountain’s hiking. Enjoy a wide variety of rich alpine wildflowers, amazing views of Overlord Glacier and many alpine lakes with glacier run-offs.

 

DECKER LOOP

Recommended for advanced to expert hikers.

Length: 1.8km (1.09mi): 45-75mins (one way)

Elevation Change: 134m (440 ft)

Description: Hike clockwise up and into Garibaldi Provincial Park with incredible views of ancient mountain peaks and Overlord Glacier. Perfect for the experienced hiker who is looking for more of an adventure.

 

WHISTLER TRAILS

 

WHISTLER SUMMIT INTERPRETIVE WALK

Length: 1.6km (1mi); 60 mins (loop)

Elevation Change: 30m (98ft)

Description: Two loops of single-track trail at the top of the Peak Express wind their way around the summit of Whistler Mountain. See fantastic views along with alpine ecosystems and local history story boards.

 

HARMONY LAKE TRAIL AND LOOP

Length: 2.5km (1.55mi) to Harmony Lake; 60-90 mins (return)

Elevation Change: 130m (426ft)

Description: This trail descends through alpine forests while travelling away from the Roundhouse Lodge. Use it to return from the High Note Trail (6).

 

HIGH NOTE TRAIL

Length: 9.4km (5.8mi); 3-4 hours (loop)

Elevation Change: 258m (902ft)

Description: Start behind the Inukshuk at the top of the Peak Express chairlift. Enjoy stunning views of Black Tusk and Cheakamus Lake, as you descend into a mellow rolling course. Loop back to the Roundhouse Lodge by heading north at the trail junction away from Flute Summit.