Head for the Hills – Whistler’s Best Alpine Hikes
Take it from this Ontario kid – British Columbia is a beautiful place, beautiful enough that the guy who designed our licence plates couldn’t come up with anything else as a slogan. When you get above the clouds into the alpine it’s like making it into the VIP section of a club – the decorating is nicer and there’s room to stretch out. Heck, even the people are better looking. Allow me to pull back the velvet rope and give you a backstage pass to the incredible world of B.C.’s alpine. Entry will only cost you a little sweat. I’ll see you up there.
Singing Pass Trail
Nestled in the Valley between Whistler and Blackcomb is one of the best trails in Whistler. (You may have caught sight of it through the glass-bottomed PEAK 2 PEAK gondola.) Singing Pass trail is about 11.5km long and will take about 3-4 hours one way. (Which makes a gondola-ride back down quite ideal.) This trail is easily accessed from Whistler Village. Start at the bus loop and head up Whistler on the Mountain access road. About 500m up you’ll find a sign marking the beginning of the trail, on your left.
Singing Pass Trail definitely improves with altitude gain – the views become more spectacular and the best reward awaits on the summit. By mid-summer, the alpine meadows are peppered with wildflowers. There are endless varieties of cute hardy little flowers that will bring out your inner Maria von Trapp. Not to mention, the deep summer appeal of being very likely to reach snow. If you head up early enough most summers, and even into August this year, you will reach snowfields at the top. You’ve gotta love launching a snowball towards an unsuspecting friend. It makes for a special treat in the summer (and somehow so much more satisfying than a winter snowball.)
High Note Trail
If you’ve bought a sightseeing ticket for the gondola you should remember to pack your hiking boots because waiting for you at the top of Peak Chair is one of my absolute favourite hikes. High Note trail is 9.4 km long and will take about 3 hours, round-trip. From this trail you can get postcard-esque views of Black Tusk and Cheakamus Lake. My favourite picture-to-do is where I make it look like I’m squishing Black Tusk between my fingers. (If you’ve ever seen “Kids in the Hall”, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.)
Note: Before setting off to explore, remember to find out the time of the last gondola back down to the village. If you miss it you’ll have to hoof it down to the village, and that’s a lot of quality patio time you’ll be foregoing.
If you’re looking for hike that’s close to the Village, but off-the-beaten path I recommend hiking up Rainbow Mountain. You will find the start of this hike on Alta Lake road near Rainbow Park. The trail is 16km long and you should plan on it taking at least 6 hours, top to bottom. Let me lay out for you my top 3 reasons to head out on this hike:
1.Rainbow Lake. At the end of your hike rewarding you for all your hard work is beautiful Rainbow Lake. If you’re feeling brave I challenge you to jump in. I usually feel like jumping in when I make it to the top, but dipping one little toe in the glacier-fed waters quickly makes me change my mind.
2. Variable Terrain. On your way up you will encounter many different types of scenery. There are streams and waterfalls, followed by marshes with interesting boardwalks over them. This hike will give you lots of different things to look at which makes the pass more quickly.
3. The workout. It’s definitely an intermediate/advanced hike so make sure to stretch out those hammys before heading out – it’s a thigh burner. The gradual slope is kind of like walking on an incline treadmill. Hello, buns of steel!!