What to Do on a Winter Day? Find Lost Lake.
Lost Lake is not lost but it’s certainly worth looking for. More than a simple body of water, Lost Lake is also one of Whistler’s most accessible and beautiful parks.
“Lost Lake Park is an absolute gem of wilderness,” says Ian Goldstone, owner of Cross Country Connection, Whistler’s epicenter of Nordic skiing. “It’s an urban park, vibrant, but still very full of nature. And it’s literally a four-minute walk from the Village.”
The 525-acre park is a surrounded by over 30 kilometres of cross country ski and snowshoe trails and Cross Country Connections offers gear rentals and instruction for anyone looking to experience the Coast Mountains at a more leisurely pace.
The Lost Lake Ticket booth, and home of Cross Country Connection, is PassivHaus, an Olympic legacy left by the Austrians after the 2010 Winter Games. Besides functioning as a ticket office, rental shop and day lodge Passivhaus is also a showcase of modern energy-efficient building standards and home to the Connection Café, which serves soups, sandwiches, Pemberton-roasted coffee and the infamous $1 cookie.
The Lost Lake trails are groomed nightly and offer set tracks for classic Nordic style as well as wide paths for skate skiing. The trails are marked according to difficulty.
Beginner—Lost Lake Loop
This is Whistler’s quintessential “green” trail, a 1.8km route that takes skiers around Lost Lake and offers stunning views of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There is very little elevation gain on this one and skate skiers should be able to bust off a lap of the loop in 20 minutes or so (30-40 mins for classic-style skiers.)
“The Loop is where I take visitors or people who don’t ski much,” Says Sharai Rewels, a local skate skier for the past 4 winters. “They have it all lit up at night and it’s really beautiful. It’s just fun to do something healthy and show people how amazing it is up here.”
Intermediate—Poler’s Road/ Old Mill Road
Lost Lake was the site of a sawmill from the 1940s-60s so many of the trail names come from old logging terms. Poler’s Road is a 2.4km uphill trail that hooks up over the Northern side of the lake and will get your heart rate up in a hurry. Access it by taking Old Mill road off the Lost Lake Loop.
Skate skiers should budget 20 minutes or so to get to the start of Poler’s and another 20-30 to make it back around to the lake. There are also lots of mellower blue trails out near the Nicholas North golf course. Lower Panorama rolls nicely through towering cedar and fir trees but be prepared for a bit of a hill on the way back.
“Centennial is a bit like a roller coaster,” says Nordic instructor Theresa Oswald. “If you can hold speed coming down you can use it to carry you on the uphill sections.” Other trails like The Black Loop or Upper Fairways are more sustained climbs and will definitely get even advanced skiers feeling the burn.
Of course, one of the great things about the Lost Lake trails is there is something for everyone and Ian, Theresa and the crew at Cross Country Connection offer certified instruction in both classic or skate skiing for any level of proficiency. Of course, if skiing isn’t your thing you can always snowshoe…
“We don’t offer snowshoe instruction,” Ian Goldstone explains, “because if you can walk over here then you can handle snowshoes.” Snowshoes are no longer those giant, clunky wood-and-rawhide apparitions that seemed designed to land you face first in the powder. Contemporary shoes are small, light, streamlined and made of space-age metals with underfoot claws for grip. It literally is as easy as walking and Lost Lake Park offers a variety of snowshoe-exclusive trails cut through the forest.
The perfect introduction to snowshoeing, Nature Trail is a 2.8km jaunt with almost no elevation gain that leads out to the shores of Lost Lake and back again. Winding through peaceful hemlock, pine and fir trees keep an eye out for wildlife– squirrel, mink, rabbits and bobcat have all been sighted in Lost Lake Park. (Don’t worry, bobcat are not much bigger than housecats and they don’t attack.) Nature trail takes about 45 minutes to complete.
This is a happy little 3.7km trail winding up to some great viewpoints of Lost Lake and the Fairmont Chateau golf course. Tin Pants’ best lookout features a sitting bench dedicated to longtime Whistler locals Al and Rosemary White for their volunteer work patrolling the Lost Lake Trails.
The bench contains an inscription of one of Rosemary’s favourite sayings, “Live Like It’s Heaven on Earth” and since 2007 hikers, bikers and snowshoers have been decorating the little white pine directly in front of the bench with ornaments and mementos from around the world. It’s Lost Lake’s very own, year-round Christmas tree.
Tin Pants will take the average snowshoer about 90 minutes to complete (including a few minutes to check out the tree.)
Molly Hogan is not a person but instead a type of splice on a wire rope (again- logging term). It’s also, when linked with Donkey Puncher and Gypsy Drum, Lost Lake’s longest snowshoe trail. At a hefty 7.6km the Molly Hogan loop offers a bit more elevation gain as it winds to the north-east of the Lake. “We tell people to plan on three hours for this one,” says Teresa Oswald. “It depends on how fast you walk but I’d rather people plan on more time than less.” More time to take in the sights and breathe the clean mountain air.
All snowshoe trails are well-signed and the tours are self-guided. Perfect for anyone with a few hours to kill while the rest of family explores the ski hills.
PassivHaus and Lost Lake Park are only a few minutes from Whistler Village. Cross through parking lot 3 and merge onto the Valley Trail where it joins the skate park. Follow the trail under Lorimer Road (check out the murals) and over the Fitzsimmons creek bridge.
From the base of Blackcomb or Upper Village the easiest way is to follow Blackcomb Way north until you find the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre then look for Passivhaus on the other side of Lorimer Road. From the Marketplace/Village North it’s a simple walk up the trail that runs alongside Lorimer.
Skiers and snowshoers arriving by vehicle can park for free in Lot 5 and follow the valley trail over. Contact the Whistler Visitor’s Centre (in the Whistler Village Taxi loop) or Cross Country Connection for more directions or information or check out the on-trail Webcam for real-time look at conditions (and lycra-clad skiers)