Favourite Hikes on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains
By Steven Hill / Images By Joern Rohde
Ahot summer day. A cloud-free, bluebird sky that is so vibrant, you can hardly believe it’s a real-life shade of blue and not something photoshopped. The sun is warming your face while the scent of wildflowers and perhaps the freshest air you’ve ever breathed fills your nostrils. That is what hiking is like on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains on a perfect day, and you feel it immediately when you step off the gondola and into the subalpine high above the Village.
Hiking on Whistler and Blackcomb is a chance to experience all that while exploring more than 50 kilometres of jaw-dropping, forested and scenic trails. Best of all, thanks to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, visitors have easy access to both peaks’ extensive network of trails. With two mountains’ worth of alpine terrain, you’ll find a wide range of trails for every taste, ability, and fitness level, but here are a few of our favourite hikes that every enthusiast should try.
On Blackcomb Mountain, the Alpine Loop Trail, which starts near the top of the Blackcomb Gondola, is a gentle, green-rated trail to get you started. This 30-minute, one-way loop is a pleasant walk on a gravel path that also connects to the extended network of blue - and black-rated trails on the mountain. Along the way, you’ll wander pristine subalpine landscapes and experience spectacular views of the Fitzsimmons Valley.
The Lakeside Loop Trail is a 40-minute, modest- to intermediate-level hike featuring stunning views of alpine meadows laden with wildflowers, spectacular viewpoints, and a pristine mountain lake. Just off the Overlord Trail, the 2.2 km trail brings you to the base of Blackcomb’s peak and a small alpine lake with crystal-clear water. But, dip your toe into Blackcomb Lake first before deciding to take the plunge to cool off. The glacial waters are definitely for those who are truly brave — or perhaps related to polar bears.
If you want to skip the gondola and get up Blackcomb Mountain by yourself, then the Blackcomb Ascent Trails are just the ticket. They offer a challenging and aptly named steep hike consisting of three sections that start at the Upper Village base of Blackcomb, and after a decent workout, bring you to the Rendezvous Lodge at the top. Along the way, you’ll pass through some enchanting old-growth forest, cross bridges over cool, babbling creeks, and experience simply stunning scenic vistas of the Whistler area below and the Coast Mountain range beyond. Best of all, after you’ve reached the top and enjoyed a well-deserved beverage, you can grab the gondola back down to the Village.
Across the valley on Whistler Mountain, the High Note and Half Note trails are other local favourites (often considered the best hikes on Whistler Mountain) and are must-do’s when you’re visiting Whistler during the warmer months. Rated as moderate- to advanced-level trails that feature some rocky sections and steeper terrain, they are well worth the effort. The shorter Half Note loop option, which includes Matthew’s Traverse Road back to the Peak Express Chair, is popular as it offers unforgettable views of Black Tusk, Cheakamus Lake, and the snow-capped mountain ranges and forested backcountry beyond. However, if you’re up for a longer hike, take the entire High Note Trail, which leads to the Musical Bumps Trail, or continues back to the Roundhouse Lodge.
Here are a few helpful tips for hiking on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains:
• Never hike alone.
• The weather in the mountains can change quickly, so be prepared and carry extra clothing.
• Stay on marked trails and be aware of the time of the last gondola down.
• Do not feed or approach bears or other wildlife.
• Carry sufficient water, snacks, a hat, and sunscreen.