Best Places to Hike in Whistler | Season By Season
Exploring Whistler on foot is a brilliant way to get deep into the wilderness of the Coast Mountains and admire this area’s incredible landscape. A Whistler hike is a unique one. Whistler is scattered with bounteous trails that will take you on adventures through ancient forests, alpine meadows, glaciated valleys and passed pristine lakes.
Grab a map, do some research (this site has heaps of helpful hiking information), and set off on your adventure, or why not let the local experts show you around? Whistler Adventures offer fantastic hiking tours with an experienced guide.
We’ve put together a list of the best hikes in Whistler, BC with varying levels of difficulty depending on how energetic you’re feeling. You can enjoy hiking in all 12 months of the year here. Summer and early fall offer the greatest options, when the snow has melted to reveal green grass and well-trodden hiking paths. But if you visit in winter, don’t let the snow get in the way of your excursion. Just strap on some snowshoes! Read on to see which Whistler hike is best for you.
Where to Hike in Whistler in the Winter
- Train Wreck: EASY
One of the most iconic Whistler hikes has got to be the Train Wreck. Seven mangled train cars lie scattered in the woods next to the Cheakamus River. This unique site is visited by graffiti artists, hikers, locals, tourists, families, photographers, bikers and everyone in between.
So how did these boxcars come to lie in the middle of a dense forest? In 1956, a train derailed in the area and a local logging company were called in to remove the debris. The train cars were rolled into the forest, where they remain today! The suspension bridge, which was completed in 2016, now makes this spectacle easy and safe to reach. It’s straightforward to get to too – the trailhead is located just 15-minutes down the road from Whistler Village, at Cheakamus Crossing.
Along with a colourful train wreckage, you’ll witness the fierce, emerald green Cheakamus River, which is an astonishing sight in itself. The Train Wreck is accessible all year-round, although you might be required to use snowshoes if there’s been heavy snowfall.
- Joffre Lakes: DIFFICULT
In deep winter, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is a true winter wonderland. Drive 1 hour 20 minutes north of Whistler and you’ll reach the trailhead. Hiking up past these three exquisite, mind-blowing blue lakes in the summertime is a beautiful and unforgettable experience, but in recent years word has got out and hoards of people flock to the area. Although the lakes are frozen in winter, setting out on this hike in the cold months is preferable to some due to the tranquil experience and stunning stillness.
Snowshoes are a must. The trail is well-marked and usually tracked out, but with 400 metres of elevation gain and 11 kilometres to trek in total, this hike is not for the faint-hearted! Choose a sunny day and marvel at the dazzling frozen lakes. Plenty of caution should be taken, and be sure not to visit after a period of heavy snowfall when the risk of avalanches could be significant.
Where to Hike in Whistler in the Spring
- Snow Walls on Whistler Mountains: EASY
While the snow in the valley has disappeared by May, a blanket of the white stuff still glistens on the mountain peaks. Every spring, Whistler Blackcomb carves an impressive path through metres of snow, leaving a labyrinth of snow walls for you to walk through.
To access these giant spectacles, buy a sightseeing pass (purchase online for the best rates) and upload Whistler gondola. From the Roundhouse Lodge, you’ll see the snow walls. Follow them up Pika’s Traverse Road and watch in wonder as they grow in size as you progress along the trail.
Give yourself 60 to 90 minutes to complete the round trip, then why not enjoy a spot of lunch at the Roundhouse Lodge and take a ride on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola for incredible 360-degree views of the valley before descending back to Whistler Village. These canyons of snow do not last forever! As the warm sun beams down on them, these snow walls decrease in size every day, so our advice is to go up and see them as soon as you can once they open!
- Tunnel Bluffs: DIFFICULT
Although technically closer to Vancouver than Whistler, we had to throw this hike in the mix for the magnificent views that you’ll witness at the top of it. It’s at a lower elevation than most of the other best hikes in Whistler, BC, this trail is one of the first in the Sea to Sky corridor that you can enjoy in spring.
The trailhead for this eight-kilometre hike (leave around 4.5 hours to complete it) is just a couple of metres from Highway 99, making it super accessible and a great one to do if you’re heading back to Vancouver. From Whistler, drive south for around an hour and you’ll reach a very small parking lot. On a nice day, this is often full, so be prepared to find parking elsewhere off the highway. Be extremely careful when crossing this busy stretch of road!
The hike itself is a steep climb with 650 metres of elevation. The path is well trodden and easy to follow but the ground is sometimes wet and muddy, so hiking boots or good, grippy runners are a must. After about an hour and a half of constant incline, you’ll follow a flat section of an old logging road, before reaching the summit of this hike. Now, take a while to catch your breath and marvel at the absolutely outstanding views of Howe Sound.
Where to Hike in Whistler in the Summer
- Harmony Lake Loop on Whistler Mountain: EASY
When summer comes around and the snow melts from the slopes, biking and hiking become the activities of choice on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There are lots of scenic trails on both mountains, including the strenuous but utterly beautiful High Note Trail on Whistler and Decker Loop Trail on Blackcomb. But if you’re looking for something a little more gentle, Harmony Lake Loop on Whistler Mountain is a great option.
To reach the start of this hike you must purchase a sightseeing lift ticket and take the 22-minute ride up Whistler Gondola. Although the pass will set you back around $65, the price tag is worth it. Not only do you get access to some of the best hikes in the Sea to Sky corridor, whilst you’re up Whistler and Blackcomb mountains you can also ride the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola or take a daunting walk over the Cloudraker Skybridge.
Harmony Lake Loop is 1.9 kilometres in length and will take you around 90 minutes. This mellow Whistler hike will take you through stunning alpine forests to Harmony Lake. It’s a great hiking option if you’ve got young kids in tow. In fact, it’s one of the best hikes in Whistler, BC with children. Need more ideas for Whistler with kids?
- Rainbow Lake: DIFFICULT
Another of our favourite Whistler hikes is Rainbow Lake. Best hiked from June to October, the trek up to this beautiful lake features 850-metres of elevation gain so it’s bound to get your heart pumping. Marked with a large sign, the trailhead is easy to spot and just a 10-minute drive from Whistler Village. Expect a consistent uphill ascent through deep forest with spectacular views of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. You’ll pass stunning waterfalls and arrive at the top to find a pristine glacial body of water.
Camping is not allowed because this ice-cold lake supplies Whistler with water, so all 16km of this hike (that’s the round-trip distance) have to be done in a day. Give yourself between five and eight hours, and be prepared for a steep climb! Dogs are also not permitted on this trail unfortunately, so leave your furry, four-legged friends at home!
Where to Hike in Whistler in the Fall
- Parkhurst Ghost Town: EASY
Long before Whistler was the bustling world-class resort that it is today, a small logging town named Parkhurst existed in the forests near Green Lake. In 1966, after 40 years of being occupied by around 70 loggers, Parkhurst was abandoned. Meandering through the deserted town today, you can spot remnants of its past in every direction. From half collapsed wooden houses to rust-covered cars and ancient household appliances, explore the historical relics of Whistler’s community that used to be.
This five-kilometre round trip hike has no elevation gain, so is rated easy on our difficulty scale! There are at least five ways to reach the ghost town, including by boat, and although there are many trail markers leading the way, getting lost is inevitable. We love this Whistler hike because it is close to the village (the trailhead is 13 kilometres away) yet feels remote. Go check out this spooky ghost town!
- Panorama Ridge: DIFFICULT
Fall in Whistler is characterised by rain, and usually lots of it! Despite the wet weather, this time of year (particularly September) is usually perfect for hiking. The sweltering conditions have subsided and the snow has finally melted from high-elevation hiking trails that were inaccessible for most of the summer.
Panorama Ridge is one such trail that is a great hiking choice in early fall (the snow only melts from it in late summer). In our books, it’s one of the best hikes in Canada. To reach the start of the trail, drive 25 kilometres south of Whistler Village to Rubble Creek. This 30-kilometre round trip hike features 1520 metres of elevation gain and will take you eight to 10 hours. Complete it in a single day if you’re up for a challenge, or camp in the spectacular Garibaldi Park.
This jaw-dropping beautiful hike leads you through alpine meadows, dense forests, and culminates with incredible panoramic views over Garibaldi Lake at the summit. It’s worth every aching step! Check out our guide to the five peaks to summit around Whistler, for more backcountry hiking ideas.
Take a Hike in Whistler, BC!
Whistler boasts some of the best hikes in Canada, offering outstanding natural beauty and rewarding adventure. Can you think of many better ways to appreciate BC’s landscape for free? From mellow walks to enjoy with the whole family to multi-day hikes through rugged terrain, there are few places in the world where you can experience such spectacular and varied trails. So decide how active you’re feeling, choose a Whistler hike, and set off to explore the beautiful Coast Mountains on foot. You won’t regret it!