Mountain Biking Whistler | What You Need to Know
The Sea-to-Sky corridor stretches along Highway 99 from Vancouver to Pemberton. This corridor 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. From the gravity fed rush of the Whistler mountain bike park to the over 120 miles of world-class mountain biking trails in the Whistler Valley, there is something for everybody to explore.
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 as well as the alpine environment, so the weather can vary from sunny and hot, o cool and raining- or even all in the same day! Come prepared for a variety of weather conditions and choose what to wear on the day based on the forecast and what you see outside.
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 Whistler Bike Park
The Whistler Bike Park opens in mid-May and operates until mid-October. It is birthplace of the Crankworks Festival – which has evolved into a multi-stop international festival celebrating all things mountain biking.
The festival takes place in August and attracts the best mountain bikers in the world to compete in a variety of mountain biking events.f you happen to be visiting in August, be sure to take in this festival! Red Bull Joyride is the Crankworks 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.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy the Whistler Bike Park. The Bike Park itself 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 the most challenging “prolines” – experts only
The trail markers will also make the distinction between “Technical” and “Flow” trails. Flow trails tend to be smoother, wider trails built using machines, usually with bermed corners and oftentimes 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 skill. 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 chairlift, or the “Fitz Zone” as locals call it, is the place to start with a wide range of both technical singletrack trails 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, in the summertime you may see black bears roaming about below the chairlifts, 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 Lift Tickets
Since the trails in WBP are accessed by Ski lift, you will need a lift ticket. Lift ticket prices range from about CAD $40 for a 3-ride sampler pass to about CAD $70 for a full adult day pass. From May to June WBP is open from 10 am to 5 pm, and June through August they are open a bit later for “extended play” from 10 am to 8 pm, before returning to normal hours in September.
Whistler Bike Park Equipment Rentals
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’s 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 for 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 cost of the rental.
Whistler Mountain Biking Lessons & Local guides
If it’s your first time, taking a lesson or hire a guide. Itis a great way to get a jump start on your skills as well as getting the low-down on the best trails to hit for your experience level. Downhill mountain biking is super fun, but also 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). The course is taught by a certified instructor and 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 suitable to 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 its the best way to get the most out of what Whistler has to offer. No matter if your objectives ride hard trails, or just take in the view on a scenic tour, there is a guide for that!
Whistler Adventures Top Pick: 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 WBP is famous for and placing it in a stunning alpine environment.
However, Top of the World is a black-diamond trail with almost 5000 vertical feet descent back to the village, so make sure you are sufficiently skilled and have a flat-tire repair kit along 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 the stunning views that Whistler has to offer from the sky by booking a helicopter sightseeing trip.
Whistler Valley Bike Trails
If gravity isn’t your thing, or you want to explore further abroad, the Whistler valley trails offer an extensive network of trails 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 not sure about your ability level, start with a green trail and build your way up.
Trailforks App is an online map as well as 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, as well as other stats such as grade (green, blue, black, etc.), trail condition, trail description, elevation profile, reviews and photos. It’s a great resource to plan your day and figure out what trails to hit, and also a way to be able to donate to WORCA (Whistler Off Road Cycling Association) a volunteer-run trail association that builds and maintain the trails in Whistler.
Mountain bike rentals are available from a number of shops in Whistler, and the type of bike you want to rent can depend on what trails you plan on doing. If you plan on hitting the trails, a dual-suspension trail bike is a good bet to have all your bases covered.
Bikes should be set up for your size and weight for the most enjoyable experience. Note that for many rental shops, trail bikes are not allowed in the bike park, so be sure to ask them where you are allowed to take your bike.
So there you have it! Whether you are a seasoned pro or a first-time mountain biker, Whistler has something for everybody. From the thrill of flying down the trails at the Whistler Bike Park, to enjoying the views from the Valley trails by bike, whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed with your mountain biking adventure in Whistler. Have fun and see on the trails!