Socially D.I.S.T.A.N.C.E.D Fun
By Steve Fisher / Images By Joern Rohde
SUP/Kayak rentals and tours
Getting out on the open water is a great way to ensure safe distancing from other people. Renting a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or single-person kayak will allow you to keep away from crowds while you explore Whistler’s waters. Located at Alta Lake’s Lakeside Park, Backroads Whistler offers SUP and single kayak rentals.
“It’s the perfect social distancing activity. You’re on a boat [or SUP]; you’re just out in the fresh air in nature,” says Eric Wight, president of Backroads Whistler. Offered as either a guided or self-guided experience, Backroads offers canoe or single kayak tours of the River of Golden Dreams. Connecting Alta Lake and Green Lake, this river provides an easy to moderate scenic float that’s just as popular with locals as it is with visitors.
Backroads sanitizes all rental equipment between guests, and since shuttle buses are running at half capacity, they are doubling the number of daily trips. backroadswhistler.com
Whistler’s municipal trails
The Resort Municipality of Whistler has an extensive network of public trails, which are all free to access by foot or by bike. Exploring the trails, especially less popular routes, is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while social distancing.
For hiking, Whistler’s Lost Lake area offers trails like Molly Hogan, Tin Pants and Tommy Moore, which lead to the scenic Green Lake Lookout. Hikers can also explore the Emerald Forest trails, or visit Rainbow Falls with a quick detour off the Rainbow Lake trail. If you’re up for a stroll, jog or in-line skate, Whistler’s Valley Trail is a 40+ kilometre paved route that extends from the Village in both directions, reaching Emerald Estates in the north and Cheakamus Crossing in the south.
For mountain bikers, Lost Lake’s Zappa Trails start just outside the Village and offer a mix of entry-level green- and blue-rated trails. For more challenging black diamond options, A River Runs Through It features tricky wooden obstacles, and Blackcomb’s Microclimate offers a rough, technical descent.
Free municipal trail maps are available online (whistler.ca/culture-recreation/trails) and at the Gateway Loop visitor centre, tourist information booths in the Village, and many local stores.
e-MTB, ATV and Off-Road Buggy tours
Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA) offers several activities that can be enjoyed in a safely distanced manner this fall, including their e-MTB, ATV and Off-Road Buggy tours.
The electric mountain bike (e-MTB) tour offers a chance to get some exercise while exploring an old-growth forest on a novice-level trail. ATV and Off-Road Buggy tours offer the option to go as a single rider or ride with people within your bubble. These guided tours allow guests to explore Whistler’s backcountry while watching for wildlife and enjoying scenic viewpoints.
“With all that is going on in the world, here at Canadian Wilderness Adventures, we feel it is more important now than ever to get people back into nature,” says Jessica Prince, CWA’s in-resort sales and guest services manager.
Shuttle buses are running from Whistler Village to tour locations but will be limited to half capacity. This fall, guests will be allowed to drive themselves to any activity if preferred.
Whistler Bungee is operating with extended hours this fall, allowing guests to spread out and ensure social distancing. Adults, youth, and even couples can enjoy the thrill of freefalling 160 vertical feet (50 metres) from a suspension bridge spanning the Cheakamus River. The surrounding basalt cliffs, old-growth forest and distant mountain peaks make this a spectacular location, so bring your camera. “I don’t think there is any better way to social distance than by doing a bungee jump in a 160-foot, adrenaline-fuelled freefall by yourself, over the glacier fed Cheakamus River,” says Matt van der Horst, Whistler Bungee’s general manager.
Shuttle buses will not run this fall, so guests must drive themselves 20 minutes south of Whistler to the jump site. Be sure to bring a face mask, as they are mandatory for jumpers. All bookings must be made in advance online or by phone.
Whistler’s ever-popular Ziptrek is operating this summer, offering an entirely new Falcon Tour designed for a safe, physically distant experience. This 1.5-to-2-hour tour takes guests down three ziplines and over four treetop bridges. The largest zipline offers a thrilling ride, carrying guests 2,400 feet (731 metres) while descending 30 storeys!
Between ziplines, the Falcon Tour is self-guided, but Ziptrek staff wait at each platform to connect and disconnect guests from the lines. Warrick Hubbard, Ziptrek’s director of marketing, says guests have been enjoying the self-guided aspect of the Falcon Tour. “Guests, or bubble groups, now have the luxury to go at their own pace between the zips. They can admire the scenery, enjoy the natural environment, take photos and walk the trails at their chosen speed,” explains Hubbard.
Many new safety and sanitation procedures are in place, and guests must wear face masks when in contact with employees or other tour groups. Tours must be booked in advance online or by phone.
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is now closed for the season and looks forward to welcoming riders back in 2021. Please check for opening dates and operational updates on whistlerblackcomb.com.
If you’re travelling with your partner or bubble, “and looking for less faces with wide open spaces, after the sun goes down,” enthuses Jason Langlois, director of sales and marketing at the The Adventure Group, then their Vallea Lumina is a fun evening activity almost anyone can enjoy. A unique, immersive multimedia night walking tour through Cougar Mountain’s old-growth forest, illuminated with thousands of lights, as well as audio and visual displays. As you complete the journey, clues found along the way piece together a mysterious story from the past. This fall visitors are asked to self-drive to Cougar Mountain, just 9.5 kilometeres north of Whistler Village, and should prepare for a 45- to 60-minute, 1.5 km walk on undulating terrain, with some staircases. Guests must undergo a non-invasive temperature check and wear face masks during check-in at the base and entry to the course, as their tickets are scanned, with masks available as needed. vallealumina.com