Just a short 90 minute drive from downtown Vancouver gets you to Whistler and the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Wedgemount Lake, Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, Cirque Lake and Russet Lake are just some of the amazing hikes in this amazing part of the world. Most trails end at astoundingly coloured lakes, majestic glaciers and Lord of the Rings style valleys. With so many incredible hikes available, the difficult task is choosing. Here are the best of the best trails in alphabetical order to help in that search.
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 monsters at Ancient Cedars. 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. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5k up a bumpy logging road. The Ancient Cedars trail is 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...
Why should hike the Ancient Cedars Trail in Whistler?
The most impressive cedars in Whistler and a nice, easy and relaxing hike. Can be combined with a scenic drive north of Whistler to see the Green Lake viewpoint.
Black Tusk is the amazing pinnacle of volcanic rock visible for hundreds of kilometres and located near the centre of . 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. Quite a few people don't climb this last part and instead just take in the extraordinary views from the base. Either way, Black Tusk is unquestionably one of the best of the best hikes in the Whistler area and in .
Why should hike to Black Tusk in Garibaldi Park, Whistler?
Hiking to the top of Black Tusk is certainly one of the most extraordinary and memorable hikes around Whistler. It is a tremendous hiking workout as you gain 1735 metres in the 13.5k from the Rubble Creek trailhead to summit. It is an exhilarating hike as the last summit chute requires some courage and daring.
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 , 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. The gate off of the highway is locked at night and in the winter so at these times you simply park at the edge of the highway and hike past the gate. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is attached to the wonderful Sea to Sky Trail which runs between and beyond Whistler and Squamish.
Why should hike to Brandywine Falls on the drive to Whistler?
Brandywine Falls is amazingly beautiful and very easy and quick to hike to. Just a 20 minute pit stop on the drive to or from Whistler allows you to see this amazing falls. Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls, just south of Squamish are both convenient, quick and beautiful stops on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.
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. The mountains in the area, including Brandywine are hike-able, though the trails, if any are faint and unmarked. There are no camping facilities in Brandywine Meadows, however, the seemingly endless valley offers plenty of tent sites...
Why should hike to Brandywine Meadows in Whistler?
Challenging elevation gain, enormous valley to explore, cute river to set your tent up next to. Endless hiking possibilities in many directions from the centre of the meadows. One of the few dog friendly hikes around. Amazing, picturesque valley full of colours.
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. An elaborate two level hut that is insanely well equipped and capable of accommodating a dozen people!
Why should hike to Brew Lake near Whistler?
The Brew Lake trail is challenging hike with considerable elevation gain of 745 metres in just 5k!. The trail is well off most people's radar and takes you well out of civilization just minutes after exiting your car. The trail is difficult yet constantly changing. Views, dramatic boulder fields, more views, bizarre forests, more views and a wonderfully remote lake.
Your dog will go insane with excitement when he spots the bizarre little swimming mice that can be found on the far shore of the lake amongst the boulders. They run around in pairs, oddly not taking notice of humans. Chasing each other along the shores and in and under the water remarkably fast providing an unusual show. Though Brew Lake pales in comparison to many other Whistler hikes shown here, it has a wonderful rugged and remote charm about it. Sometimes a place so clearly brutalized by nature gives it some hard to identify beauty. You know it when you see it though, and you see it and feel it at Brew Lake.
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. If you are motivated and have a canoe this is an amazing area to hike in mostly untouched wilderness where the alpine allows for hiking in several directions to countless lakes and glaciers beyond. The Callaghan Lake campsite is free to use and is notorious for being a bit rowdy during summer weekends, which does make it a friendly and fun place...
Why should you drive to Callaghan Lake in Whistler?
Convenient, drive right to the lake (4x4 is recommended due to the massive and frequent potholes as well as frequent, deep waterbars). If you have a boat or canoe you can explore many beautiful areas of the lake and take several short hikes.
Cheakamus Lake is an easy, relaxing hike in Garibaldi 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. Huge trees, turquoise lake, snow capped mountains, and even the occasional bear siting make this hike one of Whistler's best and most family and kid friendly hikes around. The trail is never strenuous and constantly beautiful with the wonderful smells that come with an old growth cedar forest. The campsite at 6k on the Cheakamus Lake trail consists of another 7 tent sites beautifully blended into the surroundings, another bear proof food hang and outhouse...
Why should hike to Cheakamus Lake in Whistler?
Beautiful, huge tree forest, easy kid friendly trail, pristine Garibaldi Park wilderness and a spectacular and huge lake. Excellent campsites and numerous hidden beaches and wonderful, though very cold, swimming. Known for great fishing.
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. Glaciers, mountain peaks, lakes and more lakes. You can lose yourself in the hiking possibilities in the Callaghan Valley around Cirque Lake. And one magical and striking feature of this area often goes unnoticed. The trail ends at Cirque Lake. You won't find any indication of humanity past the lake...
Why should hike to Cirque Lake in Whistler?
Wonderfully beautiful, untouched wilderness hiking. Endless hiking opportunities beyond Cirque Lake. Trailhead must be reached by canoe, amazing! Challenging trail to Cirque Lake due to its steepness, however the trail is short and should pose no difficultly, for example, for a moderately experienced weekend hiker.