Insider’s Guide: Cross-Country Biking in Whistler

Mountain biking in Cheakamus

Insider’s Guide: Cross-Country Biking in Whistler

Skiers and boarders love the white stuff, golfers will take the green, but the bikers, oh the bikers, they’ll take the gritty, brown goodness of Mother Earth. Spring biking in Whistler is all about “tacky” dirt and mud-splashed faces, untouched, empty trails and spirit of exploration — it’s a time when dirt reigns supreme.

Trails start to show themselves as the snow melts at the beginning of April, but bear in mind that it is early season. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast, trail conditions, and chat with the folks in local bike shops to get an idea of what to expect.

Last summer and fall, local riders Hailey Elise and Ollie Jones created a five-part series taking us through some of Whistler’s best cross-country bike terrain. Add in the opening of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park at the end of May and you’ve got yourself a whole load of bike trail fodder to work through.

Here’s the five-part run down, each with trail suggestions for beginners through to experts — happy spring riding.

INSIDER TIP: Lower Cheakamus and Lost Lake are typically free of snow first, whereas Westside takes the longest because it receives less sun.

Part 1: Whistler North

What to Expect

The area north of Whistler Village and around Green Lake is informally known as Whistler North. It is one of the smaller sub-networks but it boasts some classic favourites and notable newer additions. Chunder, roots, slabs, and a feeling of being “out there” are some of the areas defining characteristics. “Flow” is not in this zone’s vocabulary and yet, the fall lines and rock rolls that cascade ever-so-perfectly down the mountain make it easy to see what inspired the local builders to cut new trails here. If you are a beginner or intermediate rider, Whistler North might be pushing your skill level as many of the trails are rated expert and above. That being said, there are a few gems that allow all levels of rider to experience the terrain that lies north of the Village.

Insider’s Guide to Whistler Mountain Bike Trails: Whistler North

Part 2: Lost Lake Park

What to Expect

Situated right next to the Village, the Lost Lake pathways see their fair share of mountain bikers. The gentle ascent, friendly signage and beginner to intermediate descents make it a favourite for those new to the sport. Many Whistler locals who grew up in town have fond memories of starting their mountain bike journey on these trails that are regularly maintained by the Resort Municipality of Whistler. For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, linking up the routes to create strenuous loops can make even the fittest of riders sweat. With the trails being multi-directional, it’s not hard to navigate and create your own loops. Just get out and explore the smooth single track and woodwork the area is best known for.

Insider’s Guide to Whistler Mountain Bike Trails: Lost Lake

Part 3: Blackcomb

What to Expect

The trails on Blackcomb Mountain have a checkered past, many of them came into existence as rogue builds in a stunning forest that also acts as a controlled recreation area. Over the years, Whistler Blackcomb adopted several of the trails and provided the annual maintenance required for continued enjoyment. As a result, the Blackcomb area boasts some incredible descents that possess qualities that cannot be found anywhere else in the valley. This zone features long fall line trails with plenty of roots and interesting features sprinkled here and there. It might be rooty, but flow and speed are easy to acquire, making many of the trails local favourites. Starting at the lower part of the mountain, in the Upper Village, beginner or intermediate riders can climb up the ski hill and dart into the trees for some singletrack fun. As you climb higher, single and double blacks become available for riders looking to challenge a variety of skills.

Insider’s Guide to Whistler Mountain Bike Trails: Blackcomb

Part 4: Cheakamus

What to Expect

The Cheakamus area is south of Whistler Village and across from Function Junction. It sits snugly against the base of Whistler Mountain and bears the namesake of the nearby Cheakamus Lake and Cheakamus River, an alarmingly blue, glacier-fed waterway. Defining attributes include easy accessibility, interesting terrain, and a trail for every level of rider. You can either drive to the Cheakamus River parking lot or ride your bike along the Valley Trail to access the trails. Additionally, the easy accessibility makes it a wonderful opportunity to bring your dog along for a ride. The trails in this area are pooch-friendly but be wary as they do border Garibaldi Provincial Park which, due to park regulations, does not permit your furry friend.

Insider’s Guide to Whistler Mountain Bike Trails: Cheakamus

Part 5: Westside

What to Expect

The Westside trails cascade down Sproatt Mountain. Many, but not all, of the trails sit in the middle to lower region. They can be accessed from the infamous Flank Trail, a rigorous climb in every direction, what you find at the top is well worth the ascent. In addition to wicked descents, the area arguably boasts the best views of both Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains as well as Alta Lake. The higher you go, the better the scenery and the longer the ride down!

Insider’s Guide to Whistler Mountain Bike Trails: Westside

These Trails Don’t Build Themselves – How to Get Involved

Regardless of whether you believe in trail fairies or trail builders, the mountain bike trails around Whistler didn’t magically appear. In fact, hundreds of hours go into building and maintaining the trails each year. Learn more about how you can support the Whistler trails, get the latest trail updates and connect with the biking community over at Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA).

From road to ripping downhill, we love bikes. Learn more about biking in Whistler, and get a great deal on your spring stay over at Whistler.com.

Hailey Elise and Ollie Jones

Hailey Elise and Ollie Jones

Hailey and Ollie originally met mountain biking and that's pretty much all they have done since. When not riding their bikes, they can be found taking photos, making videos, and driving around in their beloved Tacoma to far off places. But there's no place like home, and that's just what Whistler is.

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