Whistler Backpacking & Hiking

The Coast and Mountains region, which includes Whistler is one of the easiest accessed wilderness areas in North America.Five minutes from the Village in Whistler will get you into the backcountry. You can reach the trails which will take you into the Garibaldi Park by taking one of the ski lifts to the top. Logging roads which head deep into the a back country shoot off in all directions from the areas main highway, number 99. Backpackers and hikers can follow trails to pristine waterfalls, to the toe of a glacier or the base of pinnicle where climbers work the routes all summer long. Backpackers have a wide variety of trails to choose, from for easy overnight sojours to multi-day backbreakers, which involve tough scrambles, snowfield crossings and extended roped sections. What ever your pleasure your, find lots of options and some of the most spectacular scenery you're likely to find in North America.

 
 

Anyone entering the British Columbia backcountry should be very experience in the outdoors with a good knowledge of wilderness first aid and good route finding skills. In addition, you should always leave a detailed itinerary with someone responsible you know or sign out a safety registration with the parks service before you depart. The best months for hiking and backpacking are in mid-May to mid-October but snow can often be found in the high country into July. Some trails in the Coast and Mountains region require scrambling (or rope assisted sections) or even snowfield/glacier travel along with its inherent risk. Avalanches are another danger which should be considered. Weather conditions in these mountains can change in an instant along with visibility.

 

Backpacking

Sea to Sky Trail - This is a work in progress, and what a piece of work it is. Winding its way through some of the worlds most breathtaking scenery the trail is spectacular. With plans to go from south of Squamish, through Whistler, Pemberton and then on to D'Arcy it covers the best of the Sea to Sky area. The section from Squamish past Whistler is already open and the rest will be completed shortly. You can access this multiuse trail in several area for short hikes or you can attempt the whole 150kms.

Garibaldi Provincial Park - There are 196 wilderness sites available, along with a number of huts. National Topographic Series Maps, Scale, 1:50,000, sheets 92J2, 3, 14, 15 and 16 cover the park

Black Tusk Area

From the Rubble Creek parking lot there are two trails which lead to designated campsites - the Garibaldi Lake trail and the Taylor Meadows Trial.

Taylor Meadows 7.5km, Intermediate The trial to Taylor Meadows begins 6km from the parking lot along the Garibaldi Lake Trail. To get to Taylor Lake, it will take you about 3 or 4 hours. The trail has an elevation change of just less than a 1000 meters.

The Garibaldi Lake Trail - 9km, Intermediate The trail is probably the most popular and the most beautiful. The trail moves through 800 meters of climbs and should take about 3 or 4 hours one way. From either campsite there are a number of other trails which can be hiked or joined together to extend your backpacking trip. There are pit toilets at the campsites. Regulations require the use of a cookstove in the camping area.

Diamond Head Area

Description: 22km return, Novice, Intermediate From the parking lot at the top of Mamqam Road, the trail climbs 600 meters over 11 km. The trail follows a ridge, allowing for some excellent overviews of the area. The Elfin Lake hut at the end of the trail will accommodate 34 people, there is a fee for over nighting. From Elfin lake you can take a day hike along the trail to the edge of Garibaldi Glacier. This is a great place to introduce a novice to backpacking since the hut lets you lighten the load a bit.

Sing Pass Area

There are two ways to reach the singing pass area from Whistler Mountain or from the parking along the access road from Whistler Village.

Musical Bumps - The acessed point is beside the Roundhouse Lodge at the top of the Village Gondola (you can forgo the gondola and hike up the 5000+ feet with all your equipment, if you really like to suffer). From here you reach the trail by following either the Harmony Meadows or Harmnony Lake trails. The trail continues up along Harmony Ridge, passed Symphony Bowl and Lake where it's intersected by Burnt Stew (which you can use on your return if you wish). The trail then follows along the boundary with spectacular Garibaldi before heading into the park and to Singing Pass. Russet Lake has campsites and a hut.

Singing Pass from the Access Road - 9.5km, intermediate/expert , 850m Follow the access road under the gondola at Whistler Village to the parking lot. From the parking lot the trail follows the Fitzsimmons and Melody Creeks to the pass where a series of switchbacks will take you to Russet Lake where you find campsites and a hut.

Out-There's Backpacking and Hiking
Out-There's British Columbia
British Columbia - Official Site


Huts

The hut system in Canada is extensive but not well know outside of climbing and ski mountaineering circles. There are huts throughout the Alberta and British Columbia mountain ranges. There are also less isolated systems of huts thoughout Quebec and Ontario. Many of the mountain huts are the work of the Alpine Club of Canada as well as other clubs such as the British Colunbia Mountaineering Club. Some are indepent, in the east many are run by the parks bodies. While facilities are usually minimal some huts are really quite appealing in their accomodations and many share one common traite; they are often located in some of Canada's finest backcountry. With few exceptions huts are not accessible by car and some have access which requires expert outdoor skills.

You must pack in your own gear with the exception of that provided. Some of the access routes require expert skills in either climbiing, scrambling, mountaineering and ski mountaineering. In the winter many appoaches are through avalanche areas. Some huts are only accessible in the summer or rarely used due to difficult acess in the winter.Consult with the various authorities regarding use, fees, gear and skills requirements before doing any planning.

  • Burton Hut - Garibaldi, Garibaldi Lake / Capacity: Sleeps 10 Features: Utensils
  • Diamond Head - Garibaldi, Elfin Lakes / Conditions: Fee Capacity: Sleeps 30 Features: Stove
  • Flavelle Hut - East of Garibaldi, North of Anniversary Glacier / Contact Squamish Rockclimbing Club, Capacity: Sleeps 15-20
  • Himmelsbach Hut - Garibaldi, Russet Lake / British Columbia Mountaineering Club / Capacity: Sleeps 12
  • Lizzie Creek Cabin - East of Garibaldi, Lizzie Lake / Capacity: Sleeps 8
  • Sentinel Glacier Huts- Garibaldi, Black Tusk Meadows / Contact: Department of the Environment, Glaciology Division, Capacity: Sleeps 4
  • Elfin Lake
  • Russet Lake
  • Wedgemont Lake

    Canadian Avalanche Association
    Avalanche Safety

Out-There's Backpacking and Hiking
Out-There's British Columbia
British Columbia - Official Site


 

Hiking

As the story goes, the Coast and Moutnain area has over 3500km of hiking trails. Just for the sake of arguement lets just say this is true. We're talking something bumping up against the Appalachian Trial contained within a postage stamp of an area. That's eight months straight, of ten to twelve hour days, pounding the trail. That's two pairs of really dead hiking boots. Whoa! We better get started!

Whistler Mountain - Gondola Access

Paleface Trail - 1km, easy, loop, elevation gain 85m, The trail is a loop which starts just under the top station of the Whistler Village gondola and heads out to a view point.

Ridge Lookout - 1.2km, intermediate, linear, elevation gain 72m. This short linear trail starts just beside the Roundhouse Lodge and heads up to it's name sake, the Ridge Lookout which provides and excellent viewpoint.

Glacier Trail - 2.5km, easy, linear, elevation gain 85m The trail starts out following the along the Ridge Lookout trail than quickly branches off and continues on to hte edge of the Glacier. While the glacier is closed, the trail provides a good viewpoint for visually exploring it.

Harmony Loop - 3.5km, intermediate, linear trail and loop, elevation gain 113m The trail starts beside the Roundhouse Lodge and heads out to a small pond. While it's big enough for a dip - don't do it, it's completely freezing melt waters! The trail then follows out through the loop section which provides some impressive viewpoints before heading back to the pond where you retrace your path back to the start.

Harmony Meadowns - 2.6km, intermediate, loop (take the Harmony Lake Trail back), elevation gain 50m The trail starts out following the Harmony Lake Trail then branches off on it's own to allow you some good view points over Fitzsimmons Valley.

Musical Bumps - expert, linear, elevation gain 150m You can reach the trail by following either the Harmony Meadows or Harmnony Lake trails. The trail continues up along Harmony Ridge, passed Symphony Bowl and Lake where it's intersected by Burnt Stew (which you can use to create a return loop). The trail then follows along the boundary with spectacular Garibaldi Provincial Park before heading into the park to Singing Pass. If your backpacking you can continue into the park to Russet Lake where you'll find campsites and a hut - but you must be fully self sufficiant, with a full complement of backcountry skills and gear. Another option is to hire a qualified local guide and rent equipment.

Little Whistler Way - 3.8km, expert, linear, elevation gain 265m The trail starts beside the Roundhouse Lodge and follows around Whistler Glacier where it intersects the Burnt Stew Trail at Peak Road. The trail provides a nice view into Garibaldi Park.

Burnt Stew - 2.2km, expert, linear, elevation gain 100m The trail begins at the terminus of Little Whistler Trail anf follows above Garibaldi Park boundary to intersect with the Singing Pass Trail which you can use as a return loop.

Peak Road - 0.9km, expert, linear, elevation gain 85m. To reach Peak Road you take Little Whistler Trail to its terminus. The trail continues around Whistler Glacier where it comes to an end. Provides some very nice views of the area. To return you have to retrace your steps.

Village Descent - Intermediate (Down), Expert (UP), 10km one way, elevation gain 915m, Meanders down the mountain, making use of the ski trails, some excellent views of the valley.

Surrounding Region - Coast and Moutains

Squamish Forest District

  • Lions Trail (Binkert Trail) - 15km out and back, 1280m elevation gain, lookouts, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Deeks Lake Trail - 14km out and back, 1190 elevation gain, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Utopia Lake Trail - 20km out and back, 1390 elevation gain, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Petgill Lake Trail - 9.5km, 640m elevation gain, lookouts, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Brohm Lake Trail - 1.5km loops, easy, mountain biking, lookouts, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Brew Lake Trail - 13km out and back, 1200 elevation gain to alpine meadows, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Cal-Cheak/Brandywine Trial - 8km, easy, lookouts, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Brandywine Meadows Triails - 10km out and back, 670m elevation gain, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Rainbow Lake Trail - 18km, elevation gain 825m, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Gaint Cedars Trail - 4km out and back, 150m, mountain biking, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Tenquille Lake Trail #1 - 12km out and back, 450m, climbing, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Tenquille Lake Trail #2 - 19km, 1460m, difficult, climbing, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Owls Lake Trail - 7km, 140m elevation gain, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Mount Ronayne Trail - 34km out and back, 750km elevation gain, climbing, campsites, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Lizzie Creek Trail - 10km, 640m elevation rise, climbing, campsites, lookouts, Contact Squamish Forest District
  • Gold Rush Trail - Contact Squamish Forest District

    Even a day hike in a wilderness environment like Coast and Mountains region can put you at risk without the proper knowledge of safety in the backcountry. Snowpack may delay trail openings, there can be snowfall in the high country even in July. Always carry a watch along with a map and compass and know how to use them. Bring extra clothing, food and drink along with sunscreen and let someone responsible know your route and planned time of return. If you're planning to hike the trails at the top of the mountain ensure your route will get you back before the last trip down. Consult with local authorities about conditions, bear closures and weather and never hike alone.

    Out-There's Backpacking and Hiking
    Out-There's British Columbia
    British Columbia - Official Site


 

Horse Riding, Packing & Guest Ranches

Surrounding Region


These listings are to be used only as a reference and in no way constitute a guide to backcoutry travel in the areas described. Out-There is a clearing house for outdoor information not a an information source. Check with the local schools, outdoor shops and regarding routes, closures and access. For more information contact the the local schools, outdoor shops and the clubs, associations and land managers for the area.

 

 

Resources

Banff

Out-There's Whistler Main Page


Related Features

Cypress Provincial Park
Garibaldi Provincial Park

Golden Ears Provincial Park
Mount Seymour Provincial Park
Vancouver Coast and Mountains

 

Other Links of Interest

Out-There's Destinations

Banff
Montreal
Mont Tremblant
Toronto
Vancouver

 

All web site contents copyright 1995-2005 by White Cat Media
 
Click here if you have arrived at this page without
the navigation bar on the left