Whistler Creekside was the original base for ski access to Whistler Mountain and is a great place to upload when the snow falls but during the summer months the area has flown under the radar for many. All that changed this month with the opening of the Creekside Gondola to downhill mountain bikers, a momentous occasion for those of us who love to ride the ‘big bikes’ in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Don’t see what all the fuss is about? Here’s the top reasons why uploading from Creekside rocks:
1. Straight to the Good Stuff
The Creekside Gondola drops you part way down the Garbanzo zone at the Raven’s Nest. That’s one lift to get into the good stuff (aka Garbo gnar) instead of two from the Village. You’re recommended to be at least a decent intermediate or advanced rider to get in this way, as there are no green trails down to the Village or Creekside (and it’s a loooong way down).
2. New Trails to Ride
New trails! From the Raven’s Nest turn onto No Joke, hang a left after the rock spines and you’re into brand new bike park territory. The trail crews created Dusty’s Downhill to get you back to Creekside, which carves across the open ski runs with a bunch of berms and steeper sections for a rollercoaster-like ride. There’s a second run on offer called BC’s Trail which drops through the trees under the gondola providing a technical treat of roots, rock slabs and loam. BC’s is not a new trail, but has been gently ushered into the Bike Park fold with some care and maintenance this summer.
3. Dedicated Bike Lift
Creekside is for bikes only so you won’t have sightseers clogging the line in front of you.
4. Upload and Download
Until the gondola stops running (currently at 5 PM) you can upload and download using the shiny new, easy-to-load racks (no squashing bikes and people into the Gondola cabins, another bonus!). The standard mountain culture mantra of “death-before-download” still applies here but being able to scoot down from mid-Garbo is luxury indeed.
5. Après and Eats
After a couple of hours in the park, I’m usually thirsty and ravenous. Creekside has a bunch of options for dealing with this dangerous situation all within a two-minute pedal of the lift. Dusty’s is right at the gondola base with beers, BBQ and epic afternoon sun, and heading out from there you can hit Samurai Sushi, Rosie’s, the Southside Diner (get the bacon-and-egger for a fast pre-ride breakfast), Creekbread (mad pizza and salads with bacon), Roland’s Pub and the Cure lakeside patio at Nita Lake Lodge. (Insider Tip: If your significant other isn’t as enthused on biking as you are and you need to strike a deal to ride, book into Red Door, Aura at Nita Lake Lodge or the Rim Rock Café for an extra-special date night. You’ll probably want to ditch the sweaty bike armour first.)
6. Close Proximity to Lakes
The lake dip is an integral part of a summer’s day in the mountains, and after pinning it in the Bike Park all day leaping into cool water feels extra fine. Creekside has the shortest distance between a lake and a lift in town with docks at Alpha and Nita lakes less than 2 minutes away. And there are no hills on that route either so it’s DH rig friendly.
7. Plenty of Free, Underground Parking
No dust, no hot car. Drive in, suit up, go straight to the lift. Just watch the roof-mounted bikes, yeah?
8. Everything you need, nothing you don’t
If you’re planning to stay in town and ride for a couple of days, Creekside’s a brilliant place to stay with a genuinely chilled-out vibe. You can get your bike park tickets and rentals right at Can-Ski, then there’s all the other essentials – service station, full grocery store, TWO liquor stores, multiple places to eat and drink, TWO lakes and a park with a rad playground plus a dog park (for whichever family members you bring). There’s even pedal access to a bunch of xc trails if you feel the need to switch it up. The accommodation options are super close to the lift and have spacious options for families and groups.
9. Close to the Action, Far Enough Away
If you want to head into Whistler Village to check out the Farmers’ Markets, concerts or shops it’s a mere 5 minutes in a car or taxi and there are also two bus routes heading to the Village multiple times an hour during peak times. The Valley Trail provides a car-free route for cyclists and walkers with stunning views across Nita Lake, Alta Lake and the Whistler Golf Course on the way. Creekside is close to all the fun of the Village but allows you to retreat to a little lakeside haven at the end of the day.
10. Use it or Lose It
This last one’s a big one. Whistler Blackcomb has plans to expand the Bike Park trail network in the Creekside zone, but it depends on the success of the Creekside Gondola this summer. If like me you are keen to see new trails and challenges in the Bike Park in coming years, it’s worth dropping into the Creek and riding the Gondy at least once to show your support.
The Creekside Gondola is currently open 7 days a week for bike park access only, recommended for intermediate and advanced riders. Hit up Whistler.com for all your DH/bike holiday needs. See you at Dusty’s.