Guest Author: Richard Campbell, Founder of 10Hikes.com
Here’s a secret for those of you getting ready to put your hiking gear away for the winter: Don’t do it. Autumn is the best time of the year to hike in the Coast Mountains. Cooler days, fewer crowds, changing colours and a dusting of snow on mountain peaks makes the incredible views even more spectacular than summer.
For us, the highlight of the entire fall season is the Whistler Village Beer Festival (WVBF), kicking off today and running September 14th – 18th this year. Over 60 breweries come to Whistler to share their best, with sampling encouraged.
Here at 10Hikes we like to combine things we love. Any trip where we get to pair some of the best hiking in North America with craft beer and West Coast cuisine is always a winner. Add in hotels at heavily discounted off-season rates and ArtWalk 2016 throughout Whistler Village and it makes sense to take a few days off work and get up to Whistler.
To make planning your trip a breeze, 10Hikes.com has prepared the perfect agenda to enjoy this wonderful event.
Wednesday September 14th
We’ve chosen a favourite hike that can be shortened if you are running late getting to Whistler. The hike to Cheakamus Lake is one of the best in the Whistler region. From the trailhead, just South of Whistler, this hike can be as short or as long as you like, with the lake only 3 km from the trailhead. Our favorite route is a 6.6 km return and gains just under 500 m of elevation. Once reaching the lake the views are world-class, with the views into Garibaldi Provincial Park and the mountains overlooking the lake ones you won’t soon forget.
Returning to Whistler, have a quick shower and head over to the Whistler Brewing Company for the WVBF Kick-Off BBQ and Brewery Tour with Matt Dean, the Brewmaster from Whistler Brewing Company. The event runs between 4 and 8 PM, with tours of the brewery at 4 PM and 5 PM. Don’t stay out too late tonight though, as tomorrow will be spectacular!
Thursday September 15th
The legendary Wedgemount Lake is our goal for today. The trailhead is 14 km North of Whistler, and this spectacular 15.6 km hike gains almost 1,400 m of elevation, so it’s a steep one. Most hikers should take between 6 – 8 hours to complete it. The views from the lake are incredible, with the lake flanked by mountains and glaciers. There is a reason why 10Hikes ranks this hike as the 3rd best in the Whistler region.
Such a great hike will justify an all-you-can-eat Sirloin Steak dinner and of course, craft beer, at the BEEFSTEAK event starting at 7 pm at the Dubh Linn Gate pub. Entertainment starts at 8.30 and your first pitcher of Steamworks beer is FREE!
Friday September 16th
The carb and protein loading from last night will pay dividends today, as it’s a big trip up to the stunning Garibaldi Lake. This 23 km hike is a long one, however the views of the lake are nothing short of stunning, where you will see peaks and glaciers reflected in the teal water. For those with the stamina, a trip up to the base of Black Tusk is definitely worth it, though another 6.5 km on an already long day.
Getting back to Whistler, tonight has plenty of options. A great way option is Bar Hop, which will take in 5 legendary spots in Whistler, with a free drink at each and VIP access. The party starts at Longhorn Saloon and goes from 9 PM to 2 AM. Yes, tonight could be a late one.
Saturday September 17th
You’ve earned a break today, so wake up late, enjoy a big breakfast and head up Blackcomb Meadows. You’ve got to start around 10 AM in order to be back in time for afternoon activities. Take the Whistler Village Gondola to the incredible PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola over to Blackcomb. From the station, this 10 km hike takes in some of the most spectacular views in Whistler, while only gaining 500 m of elevation. Once done, take the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola back to Whistler and then the Peak Chair up for spectacular views from Whistler Mountain.
Head down and drop your backpack off and then head to Whistler Olympic Plaza for the Main Tasting Event from 12 PM – 5 PM. You’ll have over 120 craft beers to sample, so pace yourself. Is there anything better than being outside on a fine autumn day in the mountains enjoying some of the best craft beers with friends? No. No there isn’t. There are many events in the evening to choose from as well as plenty of nightlife options if you want to kick on later. Expect a great time wherever you go in the Village.
Sunday September 18th
Sleep in, have a great breakfast and get ready for a spa treatment. On your way to the spa, grab a coffee at either Mount Currie Coffee Co. or Moguls Coffee House. While you wander the streets of Whistler you can feast your senses in the work of local creatives. Arts Whistler’s ArtWalk runs from September to November and features over 30 unexpected art galleries all over Whistler. If you want to pick up an original piece of artwork, this is one of the best ways to see the best artists of the region all in one place.
After the spa, some will have to return home, however more wonderful Whistler hikes such as Joffre Lakes, Panorama Ridge and High Note trail will fill out a few more days for those who stay on.
You can find tickets and accommodation for the Whistler Village Beer Festival online. Find free route descriptions, maps and photos for all hikes mentioned in this article on 10Hikes.com. For all other information on fall in Whistler visit Whistler.com. Cheers!