Whistler Mountain Bike Park 101: A First-Timer’s Guide

Whistler Mountain Bike Park for Beginners

Whistler Mountain Bike Park 101: A First-Timer’s Guide

Whistler Mountain Bike Park is without a doubt the most famous and popular bike park in the world. Come summer time our social media feeds are full of posts and videos of people tearing up the bike park. Whistler Mountain Bike Park might seem daunting on first glance, but in reality, it’s very beginner-friendly. This handy guide covers all the questions a first-time rider might have.

Mountain biker on a berm in the Whistler Bike Park

Rider on a wide berm. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

What Is a Bike Park?

A bike park is an area of land that has a designated network of interlinked mountain bike trails. Whistler Mountain Bike Park is accessible by chairlift and gondola and is “gravity-fed”. Gravity-fed means that there is little to no pedalling involved, gravity does all the work for you.

Mountain bikers lined up for opening day

Riders uploading to Whistler Mountain Bike Park. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Where Is Whistler Mountain Bike Park?

Whistler Mountain Bike Park is on Whistler Mountain. It can be accessed from Whistler Village via the Fitzsimmons Chair and the Whistler Gondola or from Creekside via the Creekside Gondola.

Mountain bikers on a chairlift

Riders relaxing on the chairlift. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

How Big Is Whistler Mountain Bike Park?

Whistler Mountain Bike Park is made up of 70 bike trails that span 80 kilometres and 4,900 vertical feet. There are four zones.

Fitzsimmons Zone

The “Fitz” zone is the original bike park zone. It has a mix of trail types and is the best place for beginners to learn as it has the most amount of green trails and some easy blue trails. The Fitzsimmons Zone is accessed by uploading on the Fitzsimmons Chair at the base of Whistler Mountain, or via Whistler Gondola. On your first trip to Whistler Mountain Bike Park, this is where you’ll spend most of your time. It’s the best zone to build confidence and learn how to ride a mountain bike.

Garbanzo Zone

In this zone, you’ll find some more challenging trails. The trails generally have more difficult features, such as drops and jumps, and are much longer than the trails in the Fitzsimmons Zone.

Mountain biker on a feature in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park

Whistler Mountain Bike Park is full of fun features! PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Peak Zone

This is where our Top of The World Trail is. This is a challenging and very long trail. The views are stunning, but this trail is not for first-timers.

Creek Zone

The newest zone in Whistler Mountain Bike Park. These trails are for intermediate and advanced riders only. It’s best to spend time honing your skills in Fitzsimmons Zone before riding this zone.

What Do I Need to Ride Whistler Mountain Bike Park?

Mountain Bike

Having an appropriate bike is essential for riding the bike park. For most riders, it is recommended that a downhill mountain bike is used. A modern downhill bike has both front and rear suspension. This suspension soaks up all the bumps on the bike trails and makes them easier to ride. These bikes also have wide, tough tires that increase grip and traction when riding. The bike frame is generally made from a durable aluminum or carbon fiber. These bikes are designed to be incredibly sturdy while maximizing the rider’s safety.

Downhill mountain bikes can be rented from any of the bike stores in Whistler. Each bike is maintained after it’s ridden and the bike mechanic can talk you through the features of the bike when you rent it.

Rider in appropriate mountain biking safety gear

The appropriate safety equipment is essential! PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Safety Equipment

As well as renting a downhill mountain bike, you can also rent safety equipment from bike shops in Whistler.

Helmets are absolutely mandatory. You will not be allowed on the chairlift or gondola without a helmet. A full-face helmet is highly recommended as it covers your head and also has a part that protects the lower face and jaw.

Knee pads are another piece of essential gear. Unfortunately from time to time falls can happen in the bike park. Knee pads are the first line of defense against grazed knees and cuts. Make sure you get your correct size and that the pads fit you properly.

Gloves are a nice addition when riding the bike park. Summer days in Whistler can get hot, so a pair of gloves will help to keep your hands dry and make holding on to the handlebars easier.

Elbow pads are another good idea. Working in the same way as knee pads, these pads help save your elbow skin in the case of a fall.

Clothing

What to wear depends on the weather and conditions but generally, you’ll see mountain bikers in long shorts and a jersey made for mountain biking.

It’s important to wear shorts that you can move well in and that won’t rip easily. You might consider finding a pair with padding or wearing a padded liner underneath. If you don’t want to buy a jersey straight away or it’s a warm day, any shirt you’d be comfortable hiking in (and don’t mind getting dirty) will do.

There are mountain biking specific shoes but to start, you can wear skate or running shoes. If it’s a wet day, a light, waterproof or water-resistant jacket is a good idea too.

Mountain bikers talking and waiting to ride

Riders getting ready to ride! PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Bike Park Tickets

There are a number of options available to ride the bike park. Day passes allow you to ride the park for the entirety of that particular day. Season passes allow you to ride the bike park anytime during opening hours throughout the season. A Sampler pass can be used for three laps. If you’re having a blast and want to keep going, you can upgrade your Sampler pass to a day ticket. An Extended Play ticket is valid from 3.30 PM – 8 PM between mid-May and early September.

What Are the Trails Like?

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park trails are classified by how difficult they are. Green trails are for beginners, blue trails are for intermediate riders, black trails are for advanced riders, double black for experts and red for professionals. There are eight green trails in the bike park and thirty-three blue trails.

There are also two categories of trails within the difficulty levels. Flow trails are wide open trails that are generally smooth and feature man-made elements such as jumps, berms, and rollers. Technical trails are tighter and take advantage of natural features such as roots and rocks.

The green trails are designed for people who have never ridden a mountain bike before. They are very wide and quite flat, giving beginners the best opportunity to learn how to ride. You can also hire a guide, join in on a bike clinic or take a lesson. No matter your level of biking, there is a trail in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park for you.

Close-up of mountain bike trail in Whistler

A sunny afternoon in Whistler Mountain Bike Park. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Recommended Lessons

Intro to Bike Park – Perfect for those who are comfortable on a bike but have not ridden in a bike park.

Half Day Bike Park Lessons – A good refresher or opportunity to work on a particular skill.

Full Day Bike Park Lessons – If you have any previous downhill or cross-country biking experience, this lesson will help you gain more confidence and get to know the Whistler Mountain Bike Park trails.

View all Lessons

When Is Whistler Mountain Bike Park Open?

Whistler Mountain Bike Park opens on May 17, 2019 and stays open through until October 14, 2019. The bike park opens at 10 AM and closes at 8 PM during high season. The opening hours are then reduced to 10 AM until 5 PM in October.

Two riders on a rock roll in the Creek Zone

Happy riding! PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Ready for more? Here’s Whistler Mountain Bike Park 102: A Beginner to Intermediate Guide

Now you have all the info you need to get started in Whistler Mountain Bike Park! However, the best way to learn is by getting on a bike and riding, let the team here at Whistler.com help with organizing the rest of your trip, so you can focus on mountain biking.

 

Cian Byrne

Cian Byrne

Cian is a lover of technical double-black bike trails, and sunny powder laps with friends. He can’t stop exploring all of Whistler’s lakes, and is currently on a quest to find the best barista in town.

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