Know Before You Go: Whistler’s Hike and Bike Trails

Man standing on a fallen cedar tree in Whistler

Know Before You Go: Whistler’s Hike and Bike Trails

Updated July 6, 2020

The sun is shining, the mountains rise above you and adventure beckons. It’s time to break in that new bike or pair of running shoes, make sure your muscles are ready and limber (you’ve been doing those online workouts right?), and check your backpack has the necessary gear – paradoxically, sunscreen and a rain jacket (Whistler is a lush temperate rainforest).

Whistler is changing its pace this summer so we can all adventure confidently, openly and mindfully, and we need you in this with us. Here’s our insider’s guide to Whistler’s mellow trail options for hikers, bikers and runners, to ease you into the summer season and keep you exploring safely all season long.

Sunrise Paddle on Alta Lake in Whistler

Same place – a new perspective. Watching the sunrise on Alta Lake. PHOTO MIKE CRANE

Whistler Trail Etiquette 2.0

  • Stay home if you’re sick, the trails aren’t going anywhere, we promise
  • Keep at least a two-metre distance (that’s a touch longer than a bike or pair of skis) from others outside of your normal “unit” – granted, some of our trails are narrow, have patience and if you’re stepping aside look for a rock or bare spot to stand on (nature thanks you)
  • We know you’ve spent a lot of time with them lately, but stay within your unit / family
  • Ride and hike within your ability, we’re still at a point where we don’t want to put added pressure on our health care system, so try that nemesis rock roll another day
  • Bylaw Officers and Parks and Trails Ambassadors are out and about to remind people about physical distancing. They are there to help everyone have a positive experience, so say hi and shoot them an air high five.

Suggestions and Tips

  • Know before you go – check what’s open and have a Plan B in case the area you’ve chosen is busy. To avoid this, consider heading out early in the morning or in the later afternoon.
  • Wash your hands often and pack hand sanitizer for longer trips
  • Go before you go. Public washrooms are open but are high-touch areas, so minimize their use when you can
  • As tempting as it is to chat about the upcoming adventure, don’t congregate at trailheads or in parking lots
  • Be courteous and kind to others – everyone has their own version of what is and isn’t safe right now, give people space, a smile, a wave and the benefit of the doubt

Walks and Rides on the Mild Side

Family walking the Valley Trail in Whistler

A leisurely stroll with the fam jam. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

First posted in May last year, we did a round up of some of the mellower walks around Whistler that utilized our incredible 40-kilometre Valley Trail, weaving past lakes, beaches and parks. This post has some great suggestions if you’re after a cruisy walk or bike in the sunshine. Pack some snacks, water, hand sanitizer and get out there!

There are a lot more e-bikes about these days and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has some guidelines in place for their usage. Class 1 pedal-assisted e-bikes are allowed on the Valley Trail and most off-road trails with some exceptions like, Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain alpine trails and Emerald Forest Conservation Area.

Just like when you ride a normal bike, the same trail etiquette is applied, you have to be in control, watch your speed (especially around kids and dogs) and stick to the right-hand side of the trail, alerting other users when you pass on the left. If you haven’t tried an e-bike then you can rent one or take a tour.

Spring Hiking

There’s still snow in high elevations around Whistler, so our suggestion would be to hit up trails around Lost Lake and Cheakamus River, as well as the Train Wreck and Ancient Cedars trails to start with.

Note that the RMOW and Whistler’s Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) work on the trails throughout the season, so some trails might be closed for maintenance. Respect the work they’re doing to make the trails better for everyone, read the signage and give them the space they need.

Man standing on a fallen cedar tree in Whistler

The incredible Ancient Cedars trail. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA

Not sure what you need to pack in your bag? Insider Penny Buswell put together a handy hiking essentials list. We also have a stunning 360-degree video that takes you through some of these mellower hiking options, great viewing if you’re not able to join us in-person just yet.

To check if the Provincial Park you’re planning to visit is open, take a look at the BC Parks website, for example, at the writing of this post both Joffre Lakes and Brandywine Falls are still closed. 

Spring Mountain Biking Tips

Make sure your bike is serviced and ready to go (most bike shops in Whistler are open for maintenance), check Trailforks for which trails are clear and open, ride lower options and stick to the path. These are just a few of the tips covered in our Sustaining Singletrack: Spring Riding Tips with WORCA that went out in May of 2019, but holds true for today.

A mountain biker admires the views over Whistler Mountain from the West Side trails.

Westside features stunning views of Alta Lake, Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain. PHOTO OLLIE JONES PHOTOGRAPHY

You can even join WORCA for a Virtual Toonie Ride. Register for free / by donation online and then look at the Trailforks app for details on which trails you need to ride to obtain that week’s badge (you’re also entered to win prizes).

Whistler Mountain Bike Trails for Beginners

Even if you’re not a beginner rider, now is not the time to be sending it on the black runs. This series of posts on cross-country biking in Whistler was put together by local riders Hailey Elise and Ollie Jones, and it features beginner to expert riding options for all over Whistler Valley.

Biking Central Scrutinizer at Lost Lake.

A tight corner situated right at exit of Central Scrutinizer, or is it the entrance? You decide.

It is May, so as per our spring riding tips, make sure you check which trails are open and prepare for “tacky” dirt and muddy pants.

Remember to give other riders space and be patient – you might find more bikers on the green and blue trails than usual, so ride safe and share the two-wheel love!

Whistler Running Routes

Looking for some scenic running loops in Whistler? Check out this post for different suggestions ranging from four kilometres to 17: Run to the Hills: 5 Whistler Running Routes.

Stay tuned to our social media channels and check for an up-to-date report on what’s open.

Dee Raffo

Dee Raffo

You can often find Dee exploring all Whistler has to offer with her three-kid tribe in tow. Originally from the UK, Dee enjoys balancing out high-thrills adventures with down-time basking in the beauty of the wonderful place she now calls home.