The best mountain biking trails in Whistler is a topic that could certainly inspire much debate. However, we decided to ask someone who has travelled the trails for more than the thrill of guiding two-wheels down some of the most epic biking terrain in the world. You’re more likely to find this person dangling off a rocky outcrop or crouched in the shrubbery, all in order to get the perfect shot.
Whistler-based, award-winning photographer, Justa Jeskova has spent years on these trails, both in the saddle and behind the lens. We asked her for her top Whistler mountain bike trails, the must-do list for bikers looking to make the most of their summer trip to Whistler.
Meet Photographer and Rider Justa Jeskova
Justa was born and raised in communist Czechoslovakia. When she was 11, she watched an ice hockey game and was hooked on the fast-paced action. From then on she dreamt of coming to North America to see a live NHL game and in 1998, she made that a reality and moved to British Columbia. The call of the mountains drew her to Whistler, where she discovered mountain biking. Fourteen years on, she no longer chases a puck across the ice but hunts down the perfect lighting for a bike-based, beauty shot.
She might still struggle to change a bike tire, but what she lacks in mechanic skills is made up by her passion behind the lens. Today, she is the owner of Justa Jeskova Photography and you’ll find a lot of her incredible shots on this blog.
Mountain Biking in Whistler
Summer in Whistler, it’s something special. You can fill your days with the outdoor adventure options that lay before you, but you’d still need months to accomplish them all. But out of all the choices, there’s one in particular that stands out above them all. For me, and many others, that is mountain biking.
One thing I truly love about mountain biking is how social it can be. From random trailside chats to chairlift conversations or get-togethers at the weekly, WORCA Toonie Rides, I’ve met lots of interesting locals and visitors through mountain biking and one common question seems to inevitably pop up.
What’s your favourite trail?
As simple as the question may seem that’s actually tough to answer. With hundreds of trails to choose from there’s really not one simple answer. Instead, I have a list of go-to trails that could all be my favourite depending on the current weather, how much time I have, or even who I’ll be riding with.
The List: Whistler’s Best Mountain Bike Trails
For early season rides when the snow line is still low or I’m short on time, I go for a quick loop around Lost Lake or head to Cheakamus for some flow time.
1. Lost Lake Park
Lost Lake Park has an extensive network of cross-country biking trails great for beginner and intermediate-level riders and is close to Whistler Village. If you are new to mountain biking, these are great trails to start on and some of the first to open up for the season.
High Side–HiHi–After Hours– AMPM are easily accessed from Cheakamus offering up a perfect after-work option. After a short pedal up a dirt road, the fun starts immediately with twisting, rolling singletrack and a few small doubles for those that enjoy getting their tires off the ground. It all ends with the action-packed AMPM which features a few rock rolls before spitting you out within pedalling distance of Function Junction.
When the snow starts to recede higher and more options open up, it becomes more difficult to choose a favourite. There are however a few trails that I tend to ride more than others.
3. LESS / Lower Elevation Shorter Squirrels
LESS – When I’m craving a longer day in the forest, this is my first choice. Lower Elevation Shorter Squirrels is halfway up to the famous Lord of the Squirrels trail and descends through beautiful, old-growth forest. I find myself riding here when the weather is moody.
The green hues of the trees and ferns burst forth with an unreal vibrance in the fog. There’s no place I’d rather be riding my bike in Whistler on days like these. It also doesn’t hurt that the descent back to the valley is over 800 metres of vertical on some of the West Side’s best trails.
HOWLER. Right in my backyard and perfect in most weather. One of the better trails to ride when Whistler’s been seeing its fair share of liquid sunshine. The dirt here sheds water well and stays grippy even when other trails tend to be saturated.
This trail’s got a bit of everything. Lots of tech, a couple of small drops, fast flow and some of Whistler Valley’s best late-evening views. Pure magic!
5. Micro Climate
Micro Climate. Some say Blackcomb Mountain is home to the best dirt in the valley. I would agree with them. It has an amazing network of trails, many have been featured in the Enduro World Series. Even if world-class enduro racing isn’t your cup of tea, everyone will have their own favourite lap here.
My Blackcomb classic is Micro Climate. The roots, rock rolls and twisting turns over its 375-metre vertical drop keep me on my toes every time. I love it just as much today as the first time I rode it back when it first opened in 2014.
Now we get to my personal favourite time of year. Alpine season! When the snow has almost fully disappeared and we can finally access our highest trails. Full-day adventures, mountain-top swims, high mountain sunsets and big descents rule the day.
6. Top of the World
Top Of The World. This purpose-built, mountain bike, alpine trail offers breathtaking views while you enjoy advanced singletrack at full speed. It is accessed through the Bike Park and requires an additional ticket to access it.
It’s well worth the upgrade as this gem has stunning views of the surrounding Coast Mountains including the iconic Black Tusk. Once you leave the alpine, you have more than a handful of world-class trails to choose from to get you all the way to the bottom.
7. Lord of the Squirrels
Lord of The Squirrels – Whistler’s second purpose-built, mountain bike, alpine trail is actually only part of the attraction on Sproatt Mountain. There are now eight trails in total that make up the network excluding the climb up Into The Mystic. The beauty of it all is that they’re all above the treeline with some of the most stunning views you’ll find in Whistler.
Other than the creative trail routing and good times up there, you may just happen to find your new favourite lunch spot or swimming hole. If you’ve got the energy and experience, you can tick off every trail in one massive 46-kilometre loop with over 1,800 metres of vertical. There are not many better ways to spend a day in Whistler than this.
INSIDER TIP: Lord of the Squirrels is a trail in Whistler’s high alpine which is only appropriate for advanced riders who are prepared for the trip. If you’re considering this trail, make sure you consult AdventureSmart BC for safety advice and check the latest trail update before you go as this area can be closed due to wildlife (be bear aware) and weather activity. The high alpine is a particularly sensitive environment, so be respectful and always pack out what you pack in.
8. Whistler Mountain Bike Park
Now I’d be remiss if I did not mention the world-famous Whistler Bike Park. Again, it’s hard to pick a favourite but there’s one set of trails that I think goes under the radar quite often. B-Line, Funshine Rolly Drops, Smoke and Mirrors, Blueseum, Wednesday Night Delight, Afternoon Delight, Lower Whistler DH to Heart Of Darkness. Yes, that’s a lot of different trails but it’s one of the best link-ups in the park encompassing a bit of everything. Berms, drops, jumps, tech, rock rolls, speed and even a bit of jank. Well worth venturing away from A-Line or Dirt Merchant for a lap or two.
We’re glad Justa followed her dreams to Whistler, maybe after reading this you might be considering following yours? See you on the trails!