5 Great Hiking Trails Around Whistler, British Columbia

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If ever there was a place that nature has sculptured specifically for hikers, the Whistler area must be it. There are hundreds of scenic trails to satisfy the needs of hikers of all skill levels and outdoor enthusiasts.

The terrain you’ll encounter includes magnificent glaciers feeding countless turquoise lakes, a diverse wildlife, among ancient forests of giant cedars, endless meadows and majestic snow-capped mountains, soaring cliffs and unusual volcanic rock formations. In summer, wildflowers set the landscape alight in a blaze of colour, only to be transformed into a white, winter wonderland in autumn with the first falls of snow.

It is virtually impossible to try to list the best hikes in the Whistler area, but below, we mention just a few to wet your appetite. All we can say is that the entire area is simply out of this world! Come and see for yourselves.

More information can be obtained at the Whistler Tourist Information Centre.

Iceberg Lake via 19 Mile Creek Trail

Alpine meadows leading on to 19 mile creek trail © Paige Deasley
Alpine meadows leading on to 19 mile creek trail © Paige Deasley

A somewhat challenging route mostly on an incline with an overall elevation gain of about 900 metres, it should take about three hours going up and a little less coming down. The stunning scenery of lush alpine forest, gorgeous waterfalls, wooden bridges over small creeks flowing through green meadows, and ice-blue glacier lakes, all surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The spectacular views should help to carry you through this 18 kilometre hike.

The trail starts at the end of Mountain View Drive just north of the town and is clearly marked, although some hikers may find the signs a little confusing. The last section is the most challenging part of the entire hike with some serious scrambling required through boulders and rocks up to the lake. Take your time to soak in the scenery and your tired feet in the lake, or take an invigorating dip…if you dare. Oh, by the way, keep an eye out for black bears!

The Skywalk trails also take you to Iceberg Lake, for those seeking a longer and more challenging route.

Whistler Valley Trails

For those seeking a less taxing way of enjoying the area’s natural beauty, the Valley Trails offer several shorter hiking, running or biking trails, passing through pristine lakes, picnic areas, parks and golf courses to stop by and relax or grab a bite. The various lakes offer sandy beaches, grassy picnic areas and spectacular kayaking, swimming and trout fishing.

Magnificent scenery of lakes, quaint village, dense forests of giant cedars, snow-peaked mountains, wildlife and the chance of spotting a black bear among the forests, all come standard on any of these easy Valley Hiking Trails. A truly wonderful landscape for a family to spend the day.

Ancient Cedars Trail

Ancient Cedars Trail

Although Whistler is surrounded by lush dense forests, no trees are more spectacular than the towering 1000-year old cedars found on this trail. This five kilometre trail is fairly challenging, but with an elevation gain of only 150 metres, it is accessible to hikers of all fitness levels.

The road to the trailhead north of the town is seriously rough, recommended for 4×4 vehicles only – but that does keep the madding crowds away. The trail takes you through the beautiful forests of Cougar Mountain, passing wooden bridges over rushing creeks, meadows with wildflowers in summer and colourful mushrooms in the autumn. Please do not eat any! Mosquito spray will also be most useful. Several viewpoints along the way offer breathtaking views of the Soo Valley and towering mountains in the background. But it is the ancient cedars at the end of the trail that are the real stars of the show. It’s only when you stand beneath one of these living monuments can you appreciate nature’s own capabilities. A truly humbling experience, not to be missed if you’re in British Columbia.

Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia, Canada

This 18 kilometre hike will take you through alpine forests, wide meadows, and a series of glacier-fed lakes with 360° panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, glaciers and unusual volcanic rock formations. Throw in the turquoise water of the 300 metre deep Garibaldi Lake in front of all that, and you have one of the most picturesque settings you’ll ever witness. Absolutely gorgeous!

Starting off at the Rubble Creek parking lot, there is an 810 metre elevation gain for the next nine kilometres until you reach the lake, sitting at an altitude of 1450 metres above sea level.

Along the way you’ll come across the soaring cliffs of “The Barrier” that was formed by a massive landslide in 1885, in case you’re wondering how Rubble Creek got its name. The viewpoint is a popular spot to pause for a while and take in the stunning scenery.

There are some junctions along the trail, giving you several optional routes to the lake. You could return the same way, or stay for a few days at one of the several campgrounds and explore the numerous but exquisite trails laid out around the lake. Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk are simply stunning.

A fairly difficult hike but a photographer’s paradise every step of the way. You will love it! Oh, by the way, the lake is well stocked with trout…if you’re interested.

Whistler Train Wreck Trail

Bridge to Train Wreck Trail, Whistler
Bridge to Train Wreck Trail, Whistler

We end off with the most unique and fun hike with low elevation gain, making it perfectly suited for the whole family. After a train was derailed in 1956, the three mangled box cars that were wedged into the canyon were pried loose and abandoned in the ancient forest. Since then, and after some assistance from local graffiti artists, they have become an integral part of the landscape and a celebrated attraction for hikers, bikers, photographers and other visitors to the Whistler area.

The trailhead is near the Interpretive Forest parking off Cheakamus Lake Road. A gravel track will lead you over a suspension bridge into a dense forest of ancient cedar and fir trees along the Cheakamus River, all the way to the train wreck. This fascinating site was also used as a horror movie setting.

The entire trail is about three kilometres and should take approximately an hour. If you have kids with you, you may encounter some problems getting them to leave. Kids love this place. This site can also be reached by some deviations from nearby trails.

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5 Great Hiking Trails Around Whistler, British Columbia

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CEO of Global Shenanigans | Expedition leader | Kayaking instructor | Snowboard instructor | Professional fun haver & good time enthusiast.

4 Responses

  1. Agnes
    | Reply

    I add this hike to Garibaldi Lake to my bucket list when I will be again in BC. I love the Whistler area, as it offers stunning views and hiking trails! I want to do also Ancient Cedars Trail. Great list of fantastic hikes!

  2. Melanie
    | Reply

    Whistler is one of my favourite places for hiking! Garibaldi is a stunner and I’ve done it a couple times, but these others are now on my list 🙂

  3. L D Holland
    | Reply

    We did some hiking on our last visit to Whistler.  Your post provides us with some great new options for a return visit.  The scenery on a hike around Garibaldi Lake looks stunning.  Well worth a longer hike than we might normally do.  Our daughter just did the Train Wreck Trail so we will have to try that one too.

  4. Vanessa
    | Reply

    Whistler is high up on my list to visit – it’s hard topic which hike I’d do first. The Ancient Cedars Trail looks incredible with those mighty towering trees. The Gaibaldi Lake would be a big drawcard for me with those stunning reflections!

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