Words: Pip Campbell

Remember your first bike? Those summer days spent pedalling anywhere and everywhere? The wind in your hair, the world at your fingertips?

We do, too.

We’re bringing back that free-wheeling freedom. This summer, it’s time to fall in love with your bike all over again.

Family bike on the valley trail
Family floatplane spotting trips at Whistler’s Green Lake.

Whistler’s Valley Trail

Whistler is the perfect place to discover the joys of biking thanks to the Valley Trail. It’s a car-free, multi-use network of over 40 km of paved trail that means you don’t have to pedal on the road to get from lake to lunch spot. Built and maintained by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, it’s a common way for locals to get around but the Valley Trail is also custom built for discovering Whistler whether it’s your first time visiting or your fiftieth.

Cruising on a ‘Valley Trail bike’ is the ultimate way to slow down to summer pace, find secret spots, hidden trails and soak up views you simply can’t get from behind the dashboard of a car. So listen to that inner kid, rent a bike and go exploring. You’ll be glad you did.

Is There A Perfect Valley Trail Bike?

You can ride pretty much any type of bike on the Valley Trail and the best thing is it doesn’t have to be new with full suspension and the latest wheel size. Part of the joy of the Valley Trail is simplifying things – that means getting your old beater bike out of the garage, giving it a tune to make sure it’s mechanically sound, maybe jazzing it up with a basket to carry your picnic gear then taking it for a spin. Cruiser bikes are good too, just be aware that some sections of the Valley Trail go up and down a little so if you aren’t up for a little extra work plan your route accordingly.

E-bikes have become a lot more common on the Valley Trail in recent years. These are a great option for longer journeys, and for anyone who doesn’t relish biking up the occasional hill. However, keep in mind that you still have to keep your speed in check, as these trails are often busy with plenty of other bikers, runners, dogs, kids, and the odd black bear along the way. Always slow down on blind corners, and be prepared to stop quickly.

Don’t want to travel with a bike? Rent one instead.

Valley Trail Map

Winding the whole way through town the trail connects the breweries of Function Junction in the south to the vivid waters of Green Lake in the north, passing through all the neighborhoods including the Village, Upper Village and Creekside on the way.The Valley Trail connects to the Sea to Sky Trail and is part of the Trans Canada Trail which connects thousands of communities across Canada.

Check out the Valley Trail map online here.

Suggested Routes

Whether you run roll or ride there’s a route to suit you. We’ve put together some suggested routes for the Valley Trail to start you off – and here’s 6 perfect spots on the Valley Trail for you to find.

Valley Trail Safety and Etiquette

The Valley Trail is a multi-use network, open to cyclists, walkers, skateboarders, runners and dog-walkers. Here’s a few tips for using the trail for cyclists and other users so we can all have a grand old time together:

Keep right of the yellow line. We follow the same rules as the road, Canadian-style.

Set your speed to cruise so you have plenty of time to stop or change direction if the unexpected happens (squirrel!). A gentle pedalling and skating speed will also give you time to check out the views, hear the pikas and keep an eye out for the perfect picnic spot on the way.

Lost Lake Park in Whistler
Want to find Lost Lake? Grab your Valley Trail bike.

Keep your eyes open for other users when overtaking, entering, leaving or crossing the trail.

Share the trail. Give plenty of warning when overtaking other users.  Bikes and runners can be pretty quiet, so use your bell or voice to give walkers plenty of warning that you are coming past. You don’t want to startle someone so bad they leap in the lake!

Keep dogs on a short leash next to you so they don’t wander across the trail unexpectedly – there’s plenty of great dog parks on the Valley Trail where they can run free. Retractable leashes can be hard to see, so consider a full leash to avoid tripping and tangling other users. And please pick up after your pooch – there are bins and bags placed at handy locations along the trail.

Lakeside Park on Alta Lake Whistler
Lakeside Park on Alta Lake, good for swimming and paddling so throw in a swimsuit.

Keep watch for bears. They are usually most active early and late in the evenings and you will occasionally see them crossing the trail. Check out our tips for what to do when you see a bear ahead of time.

Clear the trail if you stop to look at a map or a view so other people can get past.

Exploring the Valley Trail can take days, so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to soak it all in. For more ideas on things to see and do in Whistler this summer, hit up Whistler.com.

Cruising the valley trail in Whistler
From lakeside to deep forest – the cedar groves near the Whistler Golf Club are worth a pedal.

Brian Hockenstein is a Whistler-based photographer and filmmaker who loves nothing more than spending time in the incredible British Columbia wilderness and sharing the amazing sights he sees along the way, whether through photography, film or emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality Video.