Editor’s Note: There is a newer blog about the Ancient Cedar trail.
Want to meet some of the true locals here in Whistler? Well, you should check out the old growth trees on the Ancient Cedars hike. With the oldest tree being over 900 years old these trees were here long before Columbus got his first toy sailboat.
The Ancient Cedars Grove is a popular hike about a 10 km drive north of Whistler. Turn left off the highway at Cougar Mountain. The road in can be a little bumpy, but nothing too extreme. No need to rent a Hummer for the trek. My car is definitely less than rugged, and it makes it in without a problem. Want to go with a pro? You can hire a guide for the day. They have wealth of knowledge to share about Whistler’s old growth forests.
The best time to do this hike is between June and October. If you head up much earlier or later in the season there is a chance you’ll be treading through a little snow. Give yourself two hours, so you have time to take in the sights.
This hike is great for the whole family because it’s both a great journey and destination. With an elevation change of about 150m or 492ft, the hike will get your pulse going a little, but it won’t leave you gasping for breath. There are also some break stops on the way with benches and logs to take the load off and pass around the trail mix. The path is rugged enough that you will want to be wearing running shoes or hiking boots. Pretty sandals won’t cut it. But it’s not so difficult that you need to prepare for a team mutiny, unless heading to the mall for the day is a big trip for Grandma – then she may want to sit this one out. (For more info about what to pack for your day out, check out hiking tips here.)
If you take one piece of advice from me, it’s to double check that you’ve packed your camera before you leave home. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t. There are some impressive photo spots along the way. Get everyone together for a family photo with miles of coastal mountain range in the background – it makes much better family Christmas card than the backyard at home.
Another must-do on this hike is to leave your mark with a tiny inukshuk or cairn. (It’s kind of a Whistler tradition.)
When you’re almost to the top of the hike you will see a large rock with dozens of tiny stone statues balanced on top. Gather up a couple of stones from the surrounding woods and you can make your own. (If you’re thinking “inuk-what?”, check out this article to get caught up. And impress the linguists by knowing that the plural of inukshuk ain’t inukshuks… it’s inuksuit.)
By far the best part of the whole hike awaits at the far end of the loop. The grove of old growth cedars will give you a sore neck craning for their crowns. These trees are absolutely huge. Some are so big that it would take 10-15 people joining hands to circle around them. There are even some older trees that have fallen over and you can see the huge root system that holds these giants up.