Whistler, British Columbia, is a stunning location for summertime hiking. Epic snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and rushing creeks and waterfalls create the perfect destination to experience nature’s abundant beauty. There are trails for all abilities with some accessible from Whistler Village, while others require a drive to the trailhead, or a gondola or chairlift ride to access them.
Grab A Picnic
Whistler Village has a variety of options for packing a picnic, including grocery stores and bakeries. To really step up your picnic game, visit Picnic Whistler to pick up your charcuterie box. Make sure to pre-order so it is ready for pick-up, or you can pay a fee to have it delivered to your hotel. These gourmet boxes feed 2–4 people and are chocked full of local charcuterie, cheeses, fruit, nuts, and other treats. You can also order other sizes including an individual lunch or snack size.
1. Whistler’s Train Wreck Hike
- Location: Cheakamus Crossing
- Length: 1.68 miles
This is a relatively easy, dirt trail with just a 278-foot elevation gain. It is such an interesting hike with a variety of things to see from history and culture to nature. The trailhead is in the Cheakamus Crossing neighborhood and easy to find with plenty of parking. I am not in the best shape but found it to be a pretty easy trail. There was a slight elevation change as I made my way down to the Cheakamus River and the suspension bridge. That was a bit of a gut check for me as it was very bouncy and swingy. Once you are on the other side of the river, you will see the graffiti-covered box cars from this infamous train wreck. There are interpretive signs around the site so you can read the history of what happened with wreck and recovery operations. I started early and only encountered a few people, but this trail is very popular. It also connects to the Sea to Sky Trail for a longer hike.
2. Whistler Valley Trail
- Location: Whistler
- Length: 28.58 miles
The Whistler Valley Trail is a paved, car-free trail and boardwalk network that provides access to Whistler’s neighborhoods, viewpoints, lakes, and picnic areas. It is multi-use for walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters, so stick to the right. With over 28 miles of trails, there is plenty to explore. Because it is paved, it is perfect for those with mobility issues.
Pro Tip: The Whistler Transit System services all areas and neighborhoods in Whistler. The system provides free service within Whistler Village to and from the Upper Village, Benchlands, and Lost Lake Beach (in the summer). Plan a stroll and then catch the bus back to your lodgings.
3. Lost Lake Loop
- Location: Lost Lake Park
- Length: 1.24-mile loop or 3.60 miles from Whistler Village
The Lost Lake Loop is a very popular hike. There is gorgeous scenery on a flat-gravel trail that is lit at night. You can take a short hike and just loop around the lake or use the Whistler Valley Trail starting at the visitor center in Whistler village for a longer hike. It is a beautiful hike with lake, forest, and mountain views. There is a beach at Lost Lake if you want to take a dip to cool off.
Pro Tip: There is a free shuttle from the Gondola Transit Exchange to Lost Lake which runs from 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
4. Alexander Falls
- Location: Callaghan Valley
- Length: Steps
Alexander Falls is accessed in the Callaghan Valley, and it is before the Whistler Olympic Park gate, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. There is plenty of parking in the gravel lot and wheelchairs can access the viewing platform. From the cliffside overlook, you can view the falls crashing 141 feet into the canyon below. Just gorgeous! This is a perfect place for those with mobility issues to enjoy a stunning waterfall without a strenuous hike.
5. Snow Walls Hike
- Location: Whistler Mountain
- Length: 2.36 miles one way
Hiking the Snow Walls at Whistler’s Peak is a memorable experience. Take the Whistler Village Gondola up to the Roundhouse and access the trail near the Emerald 6 Express. Look for Pika’s Traverse Road to Matthew’s Traverse Road. Depending on the time of year and the amount of snow, the walls can extend overhead. Early summer is the best time to enjoy this experience but there are perks to waiting. Once the Peak Express Chair opens, you can take it to the top and hike down, or do the reverse. Just know, if you take the chair down, it is a 0.37-mile hike back up to the Roundhouse with a 207-foot elevation change.
6. Whistler Summit Interpretive Walk
- Location: Whistler Mountain
- Length: 1 mile
This is quite the adventurous hike with lots of parts to it. First, take the Whistler Village Gondola to the Roundhouse. Then hike down 0.37 miles to the Peak Express Chair. Just remember you will have to hike back up when you are finished at the peak. Take the Peak Express Chair to Whistler’s Peak. It is worth the effort when you see the stunning views from the top. Begin by heading off to the right to see the Inukshuk. Then, if you are brave enough, cross the Cloudraker Skybridge. This suspension bridge traverses above the clouds to the Raven’s Eye Cliff Walk which extends 39 feet up and out from the West Ridge — definitely not for the faint of heart. Make sure to check the views from all sides and read all the interpretive exhibits before you take the Peak Express back down. It is a very challenging hike back up to the Roundhouse but not too bad. I just rested on each switchback and made it up to the top.
Pro Tip: After hiking, stop at the Umbrella Bar for a well-deserved cocktail, beer, or glass of wine. Down in Whistler Village, you will après after hiking as you would in the winter after skiing.
7. Ancient Cedars Trail
- Location: Cougar Mountain Road
- Length: 3.11 miles
A short drive north of Whistler will take you to the trailhead for this hike to the Ancient Cedars Grove with its towering, massive trees over 900 years old. The trail heads to a rushing waterfall just below a wooden footbridge. From there, the trail forms a loop through an ancient cedar grove. The hike was recently updated with new trail markers and signs, so it is very easy to find your way. At one point, there is a short detour to a viewpoint with views of Showh Lake and the Soo Valley. With only 492 feet of elevation gain, the hike is rated easy. The meadows are filled with lush green skunk cabbage and devil’s club, but the highlight is the giant cedars. There are interpretive signs that tell you more about these silent giants that dominate the forest. It’s well worth the drive from Whistler to check them out.
Bears In Whistler
Sure, you always hear there are bears in the woods but rarely see any. There really are bears in the outdoor areas surrounding Whistler. I saw three during my trip. The first two in the Callaghan Valley, I observed safely from inside a vehicle with a trained guide on the Whistler Photo Safari. One was a black bear on the side of the road. The second was a grizzly bear that was concerning as she seemed to have no fear of humans. The third was a brown bear that I saw from the Whistler Peak Gondola. It had come down to a grassy area and was very close to children taking a mountain biking class. The bear was chowing down and oblivious to the children and the Whistler security observing. It is very important to be bear aware when hiking in Whistler and the surrounding areas.
Pro Tip: If you want to see bears in Whistler, take a Whistler Photo Safari tour through the Whistler Olympic Park and the Callaghan Valley. I could not believe how much bear scat we saw on the backcountry logging roads. The highlight was seeing a grizzly bear. The company has exclusive access to this gated area which increases your odds of seeing wildlife. You also get a behind-the-scenes look at the Olympic Park and the ski jump.
Whistler PEAK 2 PEAK 360 Experience
To enjoy many of the hikes on this list, you will need a sightseeing ticket which will give you access to the Whistler Peak Gondola, the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, and the Blackcomb Gondola. This guide provides information on some of the amazing hikes once you get above the tree line into the alpine meadows of the Coast Mountains. The gondolas and chair lifts give you access to backcountry that would normally be a backpacking trip if you started your hike in the valley. You will find easy, intermediate, and advanced hikes such as the epic High Note Trail. Make sure to check the gondola hours to allow you enough time to head down the mountain before closing time.
For more fantastic Whistler experiences to enjoy during all seasons: