A Walk In The Woods: Whistler’s Mellow Hikes
The mountains are high, the people are active and with burly bike trails, grueling hikes and big adventures around every corner Whistler ideal for getting out into the wild and seeing what you’re made of.
But there’s a lot of pleasure to be found in taking it easy too, and not everyone needs to break a “personal record” every time they leave the house. So to start off another season of Whistler hiking The Insider is looking at some of the mellower strolls in the Whistler valley, the kinds of hikes you can do with a coffee and a friend (or a dog) and have a nice relaxing conversation without panting for breath as you climb to the skies. Take ‘er easy, take ‘er slow. Tie your boots and let’s go.
1. Fitzsimmons Accessible Nature Trail
Just minutes from Whistler Village, this narrow old footpath was recently widened, flattened out and updated to encourage use by strollers, kids, wheelchairs and pretty much anyone else that wants to get out into nature.
Running 800 metres in length the trail follows the banks of Fitzsimmons Creek and meanders through old growth cedars, marshy wetlands and mixed forest with bridges and mini-stops along the creekbank. Interpretive signs help explain the ecological significance of each biozone and random openings in the canopy provide the occasional mountain view.
As Whistler’s newest walking trail the biggest asset of the Fitzsimmons Accessible Nature Trail is how close and easy it is to get to. Follow the Valley Trail North from the parking day lots and make a left (West) just before the bridge over to Passivhaus and the entrance to Lost Lake Park. Walk a hundred meters or so until you spot the trailhead on the right (North) side. After that, enjoy the trees, the birds, and the sounds of a perfectly mellow walk in the woods. Even taking your time this one is doable in an hour and a half. (if you need a map or more help finding it stop by the Whistler Visitor Centre in the Village).
2. Whistler Interpretive Forest /Cheakamus River
A joint undertaking between the Whistler Municipality and the BC Ministry of Forests this one can vary in mellowness depending on how far and deep you want to go into the 3000-hectares of forest surrounding the Cheakamus River and Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood. It’s easy to lose track of time in here but a 2-3 hour loop out to the suspension bridge seems to be the most popular.
The main parking lot/trailhead is on the east side of Highway 99 off the Cheakamus Lake road (turn at the Function Junction stoplights). Right off the parking lot is a forested mini-loop Discovery Trail chock full of informative interpretive signs explaining everything you need to know about the local flora. There are parking options further up at the kayak take-out spot but a multi-use trail will also lead you there from the main trailhead (stay alert for oncoming bikes). The suspension bridge loop is about 7km round-trip from the trailhead. Cross the old one-lane bridge to start on the south side and follow the Riverside Trail to the bridge. The hiking is mellow and winds through stunning old growth. the riverside trail is pretty well-marked with blue and white markers but with occasional side trails and few alpine views for reference it can sometimes be easy to feel lost in here but that’s part of the adventure isn’t it? Here’s a downloadable map.
3. Lost Lake Trails
Probably Whistler’s most famous trails, this network has the added bonus of ending at Lost Lake, an oasis of refreshment and relaxation after a hot summer stroll. Easy to get to from anywhere in Whistler Village, there is even a free shuttle bus if you just can’t muster the energy to walk back after laying on the beach all afternoon. Check out this Lost Lake Insider post from the archives for more info.
After knocking off these easy-going hikes you can step it up to some of those hard-breathing, sweat-dripping big mountain slogs Whistler is famous for. The Insider has a pretty decent archive of hiking blogs that will keep you busy all summer. Some of the bigger hikes are full day affairs but trust us, the views and sense of accomplishment are always worth it.
Huge thanks to Dana and Hawk for their mellow hiking skills and modeling talents.
Of course there is great summer hiking on the ski hills too but we’ll get to that later (people are still skiing up there until June 7, 2015). In the meantime everything you need to know about Whistler hiking, activities and accommodations is over at Whistler.com (and if you book a trip before June 30th you can probably save enough to buy new hiking boots).