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Mountain Biking Whistler | What You Need to Know — 2022 Updates!

Whistler mountain biking blog header

The Sea-to-Sky corridor stretches along Highway 99 from Vancouver to Pemberton and is famous for mountain biking, among many other outdoor pursuits. Mountain bikers from around the world flock to experience our world-class trails and Whistler mountain bike park.

While the entire Sea-to-Sky offers spectacular mountain biking, Whistler is arguably the crown jewel. There is something for everybody to explore, from the gravity-fed rush of the Whistler mountain bike park to the over 120 miles of outstanding mountain biking trails in the Whistler Valley.

What to Know Before You Go 

Mountain biking season in Whistler generally starts as soon as the snow melts in the Whistler Valley in April and extends to when the trails begin to get snow-covered in late October. However, this varies from season to season.

The weather in Whistler is heavily influenced by its proximity to the coast and the alpine environment. It can vary from sunny and hot, to cool and raining, even all on the same day! 

Come prepared for various weather conditions and choose what to wear each day based on the forecast and what you see outside. It’s wise to pack for every weather condition. 

In addition to a raincoat and a sweater that you don’t mind getting a little muddy, make sure you have comfortable athletic wear (nothing too loose-fitting that will get caught on the bike) and runners with a smooth sole for when you go mountain biking.

Guide to the Whistler Bike Park

Mountain biking in Whistler, British Columbia Canada - Top of the world trail in the Whistler mountain bike park - September 2017

Everyone in Whistler eagerly awaits the opening day of the bike park

The Bike Park offers a broad range of trails for every skill level. Much like skiing, mountain biking trails are rated by difficulty using the following scale:

  • Green circle for easy and beginner-friendly
  • Blue square for more difficult intermediate trails
  • Single black diamond for very difficult
  • Double black diamond for extremely difficult
  • Red triangle for the most challenging “prolines” – experts only

The trail builders will also distinguish between “technical” and “flow” trails. Flow trails tend to be smoother, wider trails built using machines, usually with bermed corners and jump features. They are a great way to get some speed and learn how to control it.

Technical trails are narrower and hand-built, with prominent natural features such as roots and rocks. Technical trails are excellent for developing skills. There are also plenty of skill parks on the mountain to hone your technique, with features ranging from “S” to start to “XL” for the seasoned rider.

The Bike Park runs on ski hill infrastructure where you ride a chairlift up and take a trail down. The main chairlift, the Fitzsimmons lift—or the “Fitz Zone” as locals call it—is the place to start, with a wide range of both technical singletracks and smooth, machine-built trails.

From the Fitz Zone, you can access other areas such as the “Garbo zone” off the Garbonzo chairlift, which offers more advanced terrain, the Peak Zone for the Top of the World Experience to the newly developed Creekside Zone.

If you’re lucky, you may see black bears roaming about below the chairlifts in the summertime, searching for food. Be sure to book a bear watching tour if you want to see these remarkable creatures in their natural environment.

Whistler Bike Park FAQ:

Where is the Whistler Mountain Biking Park?

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is the same resort as the famous ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb. If you want to Google map it, their address is 4545 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, BC V0N 1B4

When Does the Bike Park Open in 2022?

Traditionally, the Bike Park opens on May Long Weekend. However, this year it is opening early, on Friday, May 13th. 

How Fast Do You Go Down Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Bike Park?

As fast as you feel comfortable. Some trails require a faster speed than others. If you want to go slower, we recommend the green and blue trails as they are beginner-friendly.

What About Whistler Bike Park Lift Tickets?

Since the trails in Whistler Bike ParkP are accessed by ski lift, you will need a lift ticket. Lift ticket prices range from CAD $75 for an early bird, full adult day pass to CAD $85 for the regular season. From May to September, the park is open from 10 am to 8 pm, before moving to reduced hours in September, when it’s open from 10 am to 5 pm.

Whistler Bike Equipment and Rentals

Two mountain bikers pose at the top of whistler mountain

Get a full set of gear: bike, helmut, pads, and more

You can rent a suitable full-suspension downhill mountain bike from Whistler Blackcomb rentals at the base of the bike park, along with all the proper safety gear. They even have kid-sized bikes for the little shredder in your life.

Downhill mountain bike rental prices start at about CAD $90 for four hours for a basic rental, and you can pay more for an all-day rental or a more premium ride. 

Generally, rentals include armour (full-face helmet, knee pads, body armour etc), but be sure to confirm when booking. By booking ahead online, you can often save up to 20% of the rental cost.

Premium Mountain Rentals

Located on the village stroll, Premium Mountain Rentals have rental bikes perfect for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Their wide selection means that you will have the best available bikes to choose from. 

Their downhill-specific rental fleet consists of Scott Gamblers and Norco Aurums, and both bikes are available to rent starting at $95 for four hours. Premium prides themselves on their customer service, so treat yourself to a coffee in their waiting room as their bike mechanics set up the bike to match your needs. 

Evolution Whistler

The locals’ bike shop, Evolution, has been a staple in the Whistler biking scene. However, their shop is more than rentals and retail, and they are one of the pioneers in building the famous Whistler mountain biking community. 

With over 25 years of experience in biking, they genuinely are bike park experts. Their rental fleet is made up of carbon Santa Cruz V10s, spec’d with parts their mechanics would use on their bikes. Evolution offers full-day rentals starting at $179 and reducing each following day. 

If you are looking to ride a high-end bike like the pros, then the Evolution Whistler rental fleet is the one for you. 

Whistler Mountain Biking Lessons & Local Guides 

If it’s your first time, take a lesson or hire a guide. It is a great way to get a jumpstart on your skills and get the low-down on the best trails for your experience level. Downhill mountain biking is super fun and an intense sport that can be dangerous if you’re not careful, so it’s a good idea to get some tips from a pro.

Whistler Bike Park offers a “Bike Park 101” course which is a great way to get started. For about $250 you will get the following:

  • Two-hour group lesson with a certified instructor
  • Two-hour lift pass
  • Two-hour rentals (bike and safety equipment)

If you are looking for a little local guidance suited to your skill level hire a local bike guide for the day! A mountain bike guide is a great way to explore the trails without getting lost and is suitable for your shred level.

The enthusiastic, knowledgeable riders will get you set up with a bike and a guide to show you around. In our humble opinion, it’s the best way to get the most out of what Whistler has to offer. Whether your objective is to ride hard trails or just take in the view on a scenic tour, there is a guide for that!

A Destination for Bike Freaks: Crankworx 2022

It is the birthplace of the Crankworx Festival, which has evolved into a multi-stop international festival celebrating all things mountain biking.

The festival runs from the 5th to the 15th of August, attracting the best mountain bikers in the world to compete in a variety of events. So if you happen to be visiting in August, be sure to take in this festival! 

Red Bull Joyride is the Crankworx event to attend, where the top slopestyle riders from around the world compete in a gravity-defying show of skill and nerve that will keep you on the edge of your seat. This event is scheduled for the festival’s last weekend, traditionally for Saturday but sometimes moves to Sunday for better conditions. 

But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the Whistler Bike Park or the Crankworx festival. There is plenty to watch and see over the two weeks, including outdoor movies, races, live music, and the fantastic vibe it brings to Whistler. 

Best Bike Trail in Whistler? Top of the World!

If you are a more experienced rider, you may want to consider the $22 lift ticket add-on for a single ride up the Peak chair lift to ride the epic alpine “Top of the World” trail. The Top of the World trail is a mind-blowing experience with 360-degree views, taking the flow that Whistler Bike Park is famous for and placing it in a stunning alpine environment.

However, Top of the World is a black-diamond trail with an almost 5,000-foot near-vertical descent back to the village, so make sure you are sufficiently skilled and have a flat-tire repair kit in case of a puncture – otherwise, it is a long walk back down to the village! 

If you aren’t up to riding the Top of the World, you can take in Whistler’s stunning views from the sky by booking a helicopter sightseeing trip.

Off-Mountain Whistler Valley Bike Trails  

Suppose gravity isn’t your thing, or you want to explore further abroad. In that case, the Whistler Valley trails offer an extensive network ranging in ability levels, from the scenic and cruisey “Valley Trail” to the all-day technical epic of “Comfortably Numb.” You will not be disappointed. If you’re unsure about your ability level, start with a green trail and build your way up.

Trailforks App is an online map and an app that you can download to your smartphone. It gives you a great overview map of the impressive network of trails Whistler has to offer and other stats such as grade (green, blue, black, etc.), trail condition, trail description, elevation profile, reviews, etc photos. 

This includes all of the bike park trails, so ditch the Whistler Bike Park map and free up some room in your pockets. You will never get lost navigating your way down A Line again.

It’s a great resource to plan your day and figure out what trails to hit and a way to donate to WORCA (Whistler Off Road Cycling Association), a volunteer-run trail association that builds and maintains the trails in Whistler.

Off-Mountain Trails for Beginners

Barts Dark Trail 

If you are looking for an easy to intermediate trail with some flow and that is not in the bike park, Barts Dark is the trail for you. Basically, it’s a mini A Line, the most popular trail in the Whistler bike park. Barts Dark was reworked in recent years and extended. 

Located off Alpha Lake Road, this fun and bermy trail consists of easy corners, small jumps that you can roll, and some wooden features. You can continue onto the famous River Runs Through It or push back up and roll through again. 

Chipmunk Rebellion

Climb high into Rainbow Mountain and reap the rewards with this trail. The primary exit trail from Lord Of The Squirrels, WORCA built this trail with the idea to slow down traffic onto the Flank Trail. 

Nobody expected that Chipmunk Rebellion would grow its own fame as a favourite trail in Whistler. But don’t let the climb up scare you off. This mountain bike trail is the perfect intermediate singletrack, with a steady gradient and fun line choices. 

High Side

Nestled out by Cheakamus River, High Side is a fun, flowy trail with some technical sections. The trail is bench cut, but don’t let that misguide you as you enter into the natural sections, you will have some fun and tricky technical areas to navigate. 

The best way to access High Side is from the end of See Colours and Puke. You will see the signpost on the left side of the trail after about 10 minutes of climbing.  

Off-Mountain Trails for Advanced Riders

Green Monster

A trail that sends a shiver up even the best local Whistler mountain bikers, Green Monster is the real deal. Hidden away in the steep hills of Alpine, you will climb up Rick’s Roost fire road, which will test your fitness before you test your downhill skills. 

With a set of six features, and the famous Green Monster rock roll in the middle of them, this is a trail to bring your A-game to. Each feature has a ride around option, so it’s perfect if you want to go and have a look instead of committing to riding them all. 

Comfortably Numb

As cross-country as they get, this homage to Pink Floyd’s classic track is for those who love to pedal. Comfortably Numb is broken into many different sections and has a few other access points, so we recommend looking at Trailforks and planning a route. 

With more roots and rocks than you can throw a stick at, you won’t feel much flow in this zone. It is a singletrack trail that winds, climbs, dips, and descends through old growth forest. As mentioned above, it can be ridden in many ways, including either direction. 

Cheap Thrills

There’s nothing cheap about the 200m descent you get on this challenging technical trail. Cheap Thrills is a local favourite and old school classic. You will be kept on your toes with well-built features such as steep rock faces, curving ladders, and short but skinny ladders. 

You earn your descent with Cheap Thrills as it is located on the top of the flank trail, which can be accessed after a gruelling grind up from the Stonebridge-Flank Connector. This trail has some seriously double black features, but they are not mandatory, so feel free to go around if you want.

tyax lodge heli skiing in a mountain meadow

Pure magic: Riding Mountain Meadows at Tyax Lodge (Image: tyax)

Heli Mountain Biking in the Backcountry

Want the descent without the climb? Maybe it’s time to take your bike into the backcountry. Unfortunately, Whistler does not have access to a bike heli drop; however, Tyax Lodge in the Chilcoltins does. 

Four hours north of Whistler is a fantastic lodge home to some of the best backcountry biking trails in the world. A completely different experience than the Whistler Bike Park, backcountry biking will push you out of your comfort zone and give you an unforgettable experience. 

There are over 200km of trails in the area and plenty of guided tours you can choose from. Full-day tours start at $215 per person and half days at $115. If you like roughing it and overnight camping, check out the fantastic multi-day tours available. 

Whistler, a Mountain Biking Destination for Everyone

As you can see now, visitors and locals in Whistler are spoiled for choice for mountain biking. Enjoy lap after lap in the Whistler Bike Park or test your fitness by climbing up to your descent.

Whistler is suitable for those who have never ridden a mountain bike and those who live and breathe it. So grab a Whistler Bike Park map or log into Trailforks and see how many of these iconic trails you can tick off the list.