Whistler Via E-Bike: 3 Routes to Explore
E-bikes are just like normal bikes, but with some added juice. It means that you can go farther, faster and opens up exploration for those who may not have felt confident going quite so far under their own steam (we’ve got a lot of hills out here).
Fall is also a great time of year to explore, given that the weather is a little milder (if sometimes a bit wet) and the crowds have thinned, giving you space to really take in the beauty of the season.
Whistler is a prime e-bike location given that it has a 40-kilometre Valley Trail that winds its way past parks, lakes and neighbourhoods, plus over 200 kilometres of cross-country trails ranging from flowy beginner options to rock roll-filled double blacks.
There are different types of e-bikes, but the ones we’re focusing on are Class 1, pedal assist e-bikes, which you have to pedal to engage the additional power. These are allowed on Whistler’s roads, Valley Trail and most of our cross-country trail network.
Bike rental stores in Whistler typically offer two types of Class 1 e-bikes; what’s known as a cruiser, which is good for the Valley Trail and has a larger, softer seat, and a cross-country / trail option, which will have full suspension and strong brakes, designed to go on rougher terrain.
We suggest you head into one of our local rental stores and discuss what your riding goals are; the pros will help you pick out the right style and size. Once you’re ready, grab a map of the Whistler Valley and check out these three day-long route suggestions for exploring Whistler via e-bike.
1. Sightseeing & Shopping: Whistler Village to Function Junction via Creekside
I recently took my mom on an e-bike trip from Whistler Village to Function Junction, a round trip of 20 kilometres. We normally wouldn’t have attempted this, knowing that the journey home would be arduous given its uphill incline (and some possible purchases), but that’s not a problem when you’re on an e-bike.
You can’t ride on your bike in Whistler Village (it’s pedestrianized), so we wheeled our way out to Whistler Way, by taking a right by the Whistler Gondola, towards the Westin Resort and Spa. We picked up the Valley Trail by the Whistler Golf Club, took a left and headed south, parallel to the highway, although you can also go right at the Clubhouse (it’s a slightly longer route) and end up at the same place.
At the end of the golf course, you continue along the Valley Trail into a neighbourhood called Alta Vista. Following the trail, you end up passing through Lakeside Park, one of the many parks and beach areas on Alta Lake.
It was a sunny day and people were soaking up the fall rays on the docks and by the beach, paddleboarders explored the waters while dedicated kids built sandcastles. Not too much further is another smaller and more shaded park called Wayside. It’s good to note that both these places have washroom facilities.
After those two parks, you hit a fork in the trail near the railroad, left to Creekside and right around the rest of Alta Lake towards Rainbow Park. We were headed left, quickly coming upon the calm waters of Nita Lake. We stopped at a small, stony beach and took in the view. A fisherman stood on the bank trying his luck at catching some rainbow trout.
My mom loves exploring the unique retail stores in Creekside, so we took a left under the beautiful underpass painted by local artist Jessa Gilbert. We found a bike rail by Altitude Fitness, locked up our trusty steeds and went for a wander.
Get The Goods has a new location and is a beautifully curated store packed with interesting gifts, arts and crafts, books and keepsakes, with the new Bach & Co. clothing store right next door. If you’re in need of a coffee or sugary boost, Confetti has both.
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Before we left Creekside, we stood at the bottom of the gondola and looked up towards the Olympic rings. You can hike / bike (it’s a rough, dirt track) up to the rings following the path on the left side of the mountain, just watch for bikers heading down from the Whistler Mountain Bike Park (depending on the time of year).
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Do you know about the 3 hikes around Creekside? – Big Timber Trail – Hike to the Olympic Rings – Northwest Passage Loop Go check them out after taking a stroll through Creekside Village! #discovercreekside . . . #creekside #onlyinwhistler #gowhistler #whistlerblackcomb #creeksidevillage #whistlercreekside #whistlertourism #whislife #whistlerbikepark #whistlervillage #bctourism #canadatourism #whistlercanada #whistlermountain #travellife #local #mountainlife #traveltuesday #winter #whistlerwinter #sunshine #whistlervillage #whistlercreekside #whistlerpeak #mountains #mountainlife #original #nitalake #lakes #mountainlake
We got back on our bikes, went back through the underpass and headed to Fix Cafe at Nita Lake Lodge for lunch. We sat outside with our sandwiches and a special pastry treat (a hazelnut chocolate eclair) and planned the next leg of the trip.
The Valley Trail is currently being expanded and the trail on the right-hand side of the highway is closed, so we went towards the Spring Creek neighbourhood. To get there you pass Nita Lake Lodge and Alpha Lake Park, coming out on the highway. There’s a traffic light crosswalk just up from where you pop out making it easy to cross.
You do need to keep your eyes out for signage when you go this way and for the yellow markers along the pavement, but if you feel lost, keep going south and you should be able to rejoin the trail.
We loved looking at all the different houses as we cruised up the undulating pathway through Spring Creek, finally popping out at the parking lot for the Cheakamus Interpretive Forest. We crossed the highway at the lights, making our way to Function Junction.
There aren’t many sidewalks in Function Junction and it is an industrial area, so you do need to keep your wits about you as you ride around. We found a bike rack opposite Camp Lifestyle and Coffee Co. and took our time exploring the row of funky shops and Art Junction Gallery, before heading to Coast Mountain Brewing for a seasonal craft beer. Read more about fun in Function in Is Function Junction Whistler’s Coolest Neighbourhood?
Before we were tempted by another cold one, we decided to jump back on our bikes for the journey home. It was a very warm September afternoon, so at Alpha Lake (in Creekside, just down from Nita Lake Lodge), we took our shoes off and cooled our feet in the water.
We cruised back home the same way we came and the whole trip, from bike pick up to drop off, took us six hours (11 AM – 5 PM). We weren’t in a rush and took multiple breaks for photo ops, shopping, food and lake dipping! A great day spent exploring several places you can’t get to easily on foot in a single day and no need to use the car.
Not ready to go it alone? Consider an e-bike tour with a local company.
2. Lake Hopping & Heritage: Alta Lake to Green Lake
Pack up the e-bike with a towel and blanket (prepare for rain or sun, Whistler is a temperate rainforest), book and picnic munchies, and head out for a full day of exploring Whistler’s lakes and parks. I tried to make a Google Map for this route, but as it twists and turns on the Valley Trail, Google gave up, but you certainly shouldn’t. You can grab a physical map from the Visitor Centre or download one onto your phone.
From Whistler Village head towards the Whistler Golf Club and take the right-hand side of the Valley Trail around the edge of the course. It’s a lovely cycle, giving you views out over the greens and back towards Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
When you get to the far end, look out for some hidden art sculptures up in the trees (number 115 in Whistler’s public art collection). As with the first route, you come to the end of the Whistler Golf Club in Alta Vista and pass Lakeside and Wayside parks going this way. Both offer sandy and grassy lounging spots, water toy rentals (depending on the time of year) and washrooms. Our suggestion is to head out onto the floating docks for great views across the lake.
When you get to the fork in the trail near the railway track, head right. This takes you alongside the train track (always fun when one comes along) with Alta Lake on your right. Look out for a small dirt trail amongst the bushes on the right, just before a wooden house (Alta Lake Station House) and you’ll find your way to a hidden dock. This is also where Arts Whistler runs its Art on the Lake summer program, and you’ll see why as the views are certainly inspiring.
Continuing along the Valley Trail, you’ll pop up onto Westside Road for a short ride on a road without a sidewalk (switch your road sense on here). On your right, you’ll pass The Point Artist-Run Centre, housed in a lodge that was built back in the 1950s by a local couple who also built the first ski lift in Whistler (an 800-foot-long rope tow powered by an old Ford V8 motor just behind the lodge).
You will have to secure your bike at the top parking area as the way down to it is via a steep staircase, but it’s worth it for the lake views and chance to see a little Whistler history and if the lodge is open they sometimes have tea and pie!
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Did you know that the Rainbow Lodge cabins used to go right down to the shore of Alta Lake? The three remaining cabins at Rainbow Park today have been moved, but during its years of operations the cabins really were waterfront and boardwalks connected many of them. In other photos of Rainbow Lodge, high waters show just how useful those boardwalks could be. Photo: Philip Collection . . . #whistler #whistlermuseum #archives #history #mountaintown #mywhistler #mountains #altalake #waterfront #boardwalk #museumfromhome #bcmuseum #localhistory
The next stop is Rainbow Park, another historical Whistler landmark. Not only does this beach have incredible views over to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, but it is also the site of a few rustic cabins that were part of Rainbow Lodge, which began tourism operations in 1914 and was run by Myrtle and Alex Philip, two local legends. Look out for the information panels to dig into the history and when you’re back in Whistler Village consider a trip to the Whistler Museum.
Carrying on up the Valley Trail you’re riding next to the River of Golden Dreams and you might hear the odd hoot or holler from kayakers and paddleboarders tackling the waterway. You’ll pop out at Meadow Park Sports Centre, where there’s a kid’s play area, games pitches and splash park (summertime only).
Follow the Valley Trail signs towards Green Lake, passing through the Alpine Meadows neighbourhood. If you’re in need of a java injection at this point, stop off at Alpine Cafe, which is right on the trail, or if you make it slightly farther north to Rainbow, one of Whistler’s newer neighbourhoods, there’s also Cranked Espresso Bar.
Once you get to Rainbow, cross over the highway and you’ll find yourself riding alongside the edge of Green Lake. There’s a lookout area with an information board that gives you a quick guide to which mountains and year-round glaciers you’re looking at. At the northern end of the lake is an area called Parkhurst, where there used to be a mill and camp for the workers in the early 1900s.
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Before Parkhurst became known as Whistler’s ghost town it was a sawmill in operation from 1926 to 1956 (with a few breaks, such as when the mill burnt down). Many of the mill workers and their families lived at Parkhurst, including Ron Clausen and his father John pictured here, while those who felled and transported the trees often stayed at the logging camp on the west side of Green Lake. We are fortunate to have various accounts of life at Parkhurst at the museum, and you can learn more about the operation and the people who lived there on our blog (link in bio)! Photo: Clausen Collection . . . #whistler #whistlermuseum #museumalphabet #archives #history #mountaintown #mywhistler #mountains #whistlerhistory #greenlake #parkhurst #logging #mill #forestry #bcmuseum #localhistory
If you continue, you’ll find yourself in Emerald, Whistler’s northern-most neighbourhood. This is where the Valley Trail ends. We’d suggest sticking to this side of the highway on your way back towards Whistler Village. It takes you closer to the southern end of Green Lake where the floatplanes take off and land, always an incredible thing to see. The wooden boardwalk area is a great vantage point to take in the fiery colours of the foliage against the blues of the lake.
Nicklaus North Golf Course’s Table Nineteen has incredible views, sitting on the edge of Green Lake. It’s a great stop-off for lunch, dinner, or cheeky beer. Heading back towards Whistler Village takes you along the Fitzsimmons Creek, which is usually a chalky green colour due to the amount of rock flour (minerals) that is carried by the water coming from the glaciers above.
When you get closer to Whistler Village you’ll see some cool murals under the bridges, and then you’ll come upon the skate park and pump track. It’s fun to watch people test their skills and there are some picnic tables set up in the centre, so you can be part of the action.
3. Off-Roading: Getting Lost (For Fun) at Lost Lake
If you’re just getting into cross-country biking and considering taking an e-bike out for a spin on Whistler’s trails, we’ve got some suggestions for where to go first. Just like on the ski hill, Whistler’s bike trails are marked using a colour system, green for easier, beginner terrain, blue for intermediate and black for advanced. This is not the time to push your limits, especially in the wetter fall months when rocks and roots can be a touch slippery.
Some of these trails will have features, that can come in the form of rock slabs, woodwork, and steep and narrow sections. If you come across one of these and think it’s out of your comfort zone, look for a walk around (some trails have these), or you just have to take your time, watch your footing and wheel your bike down the feature.
Warm-up on the Greens
To get used to the extra juice your e-bike provides we suggest having fun in the Lost Lake area. A fun warm-up route is to follow the green marked trails from the entrance by the PassivHaus (an Olympic legacy), look at the posted map or consider using Trailforks. Head up Tin Pants > Gypsy Drum > Donkey Puncher > Molly Hogan, which takes you around the lake before popping you out by the beach area, where you can take in the sights before cruising back along the main Lost Lake Loop trail or trying your hand at some of the blues.
Brave the Blues
Seeing as you’ve got some extra pedal power, you could head out towards Green Lake for some killer views and fun riding with some technical elements thrown into the mix. From the Lost Lake beach area, check out Grand Wazoo > Why Johnny Can’t Read > I’m Not Satisfied > Packard Goose > Central Scrutinizer > Muffin Man. This will pop you out close to Nicklaus North Golf Club, and you can then choose to head back along the Valley Trail, the wider green trails in Lost Lake or you can loop back on more blues if you’ve got the energy.
As off-road e-bikes are allowed on most of Whistler’s trails (see Off-Road Trails below for exceptions), read Insider’s Guide: Cross-Country Biking in Whistler written by local riders for more ideas on where to go.
For guided off-road adventure, Canadian Wilderness Adventures offers cross-country e-bike tours in the Callaghan Valley to the stunning Alexander Falls. Read about it in The Great Canadian E-Bike Adventure.
Whistler E-Bike Rules & Etiquette
With great power comes great responsibility, so when you’re riding an e-bike that’s capable of clocking additional speed you have to be extra considerate on the trails.
Whistler’s Valley Trail is a busy network, with walkers, kids and dogs all busy doing their thing, so you’ve got to pay attention while you ride and be ready to brake if necessary.
Whistler Valley Trail
- Keep to the right
- Stay in control and pay attention
- Clear the trail if you need to take a break or check a map
- Don’t overtake on a blind corner
- Keep dogs on a leash
Class 1 e-bikes are permitted on most of Whistler’s off-road trails (the exceptions being Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain alpine trails and the Emerald Forest Conservation Area). The evolving policy is managed by the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
- Visit Trailforks.com for current trail information before you set off
- Obey signage, including trail direction and closures
- Ride within your ability level and have an AdventureSmart plan
- Share the trail and be aware that Whistler is bear country. Pack out what you pack in, and make noise as you ride so you don’t startle any bears, they make great trail blockers. For more on what to do if you encounter a bear in Whistler, read Be Bear Aware in Whistler’s Backcountry.
Bike Riding and COVID-19
- 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) from others outside of your bubble – granted, some of our trails are narrow, have patience and if you’re moving aside look for a rock or bare spot to stand on (nature thanks you)
- Ride 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.
For more COVID-19 information, visit Whistler.com/covid.
Fall room rates start at $139 and you get a free $25 Dining Voucher when you book a stay of two nights or more. You could also consider staying midweek for even more savings and a quieter village. For more ideas about what to do in the mountains in fall, take a look at When Seasons Collide: 12 Quintessential Whistler Experiences.