The Whistler Insider’s Spring Hiking Report and Summer Predictions
May sun brings. . . June hiking? Yes! With an unseasonably warm spring the hiking trails are clearing faster than last year, which is great news if you’re itching to get into the mountains. It’s time to start hanging out on our favourite peaks and enjoying those Coast Mountain views.
I find there’s three types of hikers; type 1 do it for the summit, type 2 do it for the scenery, type 3 do it for the workout. Type 3 is already out there (likely running), they don’t care if they can’t get all the way to the top. While normally a type 2 I decided to take a page out of their book and head up the Rainbow Trail, if nothing else then to investigate where the snow line is and let you know what you can expect to hike when.
Before really getting into the Rainbow Trail we made a detour to Rainbow Falls (worth it) which like most of the waterfalls in the Sea to Sky right now are pumping due to the early season melt. We got back on the trail for approximately 800 meters of leg burning elevation gain. Nothing like the first hike of the season.
Early season wildflowers, ferns and devil’s club were in full bloom at the lower elevation and just starting to unfurl at higher elevations. Skunk cabbage is everywhere, which is always a good reminder to stay bear aware. Patches of snow started to appear around 1000 m (3281 ft) but we weren’t stopped by it until 1132 m (3714 ft). There are a lot of small streams which have washed out the underbelly of the snowbanks making them unstable, we decided not to push on.
However, if you are keen to hike the transition from dirt to snow make sure you have the right gear and knowledge before you go. Stop in and talk to the helpful Visitor Centre agents for real time conditions and the team at Escape Route for any gear questions and rentals.
Based on the current snowline being at 1132 m on Rainbow Mountain and the rate of melt right of previous seasons, here’s what we can expect:
Snow Walls on Whistler Mountain
A favourite trail for witnessing the transition of winter to summer, this is where you can get a sense of how high the snow was all winter and what was hiding underneath. Accessible from the Roundhouse Lodge via the Whistler Village Gondola.
More Info | Difficulty: Easy | Roundtrip Length: 7 km
This trail follows Cheakamus river and winds through the Pacific temperate rainforest taking you to a beautiful glacier fed lake lined by mountains.
More Info | Difficulty: Moderate | Roundtrip Length: 14 km
This short hike takes you over a suspension bridge spanning the Cheakamus River to find brightly painted box cars scattered through the trees on the other side.
More Info | Difficulty: Easy | Roundtrip Length: 5 km
Ancient Cedars Trail
A hike to a stand of the largest (accessible) old-growth cedars in Whistler, the trial also features a view of Cougar Lake and a small waterfall. The trail currently still has patches of snow but is hike-able. We’ve had word from the Whistler Visitor Centre that the road up to the trailhead is quite rough at this point in the season, and suitable for 4×4 vehicles only – please take this into consideration.
More Info | Difficulty: Moderate | Roundtrip Length: 5 km
Rainbow Lake Trail
The trail offers peeks of the peaks across the valley before stunning hikers with views of Wedge and Blackcomb Mountains at the crystal clear alpine lake.
Note: Trail may be ready but Gin & Tonic Bridge may not be open.
More Info | Difficulty: Intermediate | Roundtrip Length: 15 km
This more remote hike is located in the Callaghan Valley. The trail gains most of the elevation in the beginning and rewards hikers with views of the surrounding mountains over the meadows.
More Info | Difficulty: Intermediate | Roundtrip Length: 6 km
Early to Mid Month:
A Sea to Sky classic, this hike takes you to a big beautiful glacial fed lake surrounded by dramatic mountain views.
More Info | Difficulty: Moderate | Roundtrip Length: 18 km
This trail takes you to the unique Iceberg Lake on Rainbow Mountain, there are various routes you can take as explained in our guide.
More Info | Difficulty: Intermediate | Roundtrip Length: Depends on Route
Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain Hiking Trails
Accessible by gondola, the alpine trails on Whistler Mountain and Blackomb Mountain should be ready to go around this time. There is no uploading or downloading from Blackcomb Mountain this summer so be mindful of Blackcomb alpine hiking trail times as you’ll need to take the PEAK 2 PEAK back to Whistler Mountain and download from there.
More Info | Difficulty: Various | Roundtrip Length: Various
A challenging and steep trail will take you past Wedgemount Falls and end at the glacier lined, turquoise Wedgemount Lake.
More Info | Difficulty: Advanced | Roundtrip Length: 14 km
Black Tusk (from Rubble Creek)
This trail takes you to the iconic pinnacle of volcanic rock that is Black Tusk. It is a long but rewarding hike that can be done in one day or two.
Difficulty: Advanced | Roundtrip Length: 29 km
The best hike in the area to gain perspective on the immensity of Garibaldi Provincial Park. The ridge overlooks Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Mountain, The Table and more.
More Info | Difficulty: Advanced | Roundtrip Length: 30 km
You can expect all of Whistler’s hiking trails to be clear by August. Which is a beautiful month for hiking as the alpine wildflowers are in bloom. Whistler’s hiking season can last anywhere from the beginning to end of October depending on how early the snow starts to fall in the alpine. Drop in at the Visitor Centre for current conditions, hiking maps and tips.