Whistler: A Cornucopia of Nordic Sports
The Nordic sport of cross-country skiing originated in Scandinavia thousands of years ago and was not introduced to Canada until the late 1800s. Today in Whistler, nordic skiing is enjoyed from December to late-March at several venues in the vicinity of town.
It is a great activity to get the blood flowing, explore a new area, and have some fun. Best of all, it can be enjoyed by all ages and ability levels and even dogs can get in on the excitement. Come to Whistler and see why Nordic skiing will be your new favourite sport!
Where to Nordic Ski in Whistler
Whistler officially has three venues for Nordic sport, plus a bonus local spot if you have your own gear. As the Nordic ski areas are in the Valley, cold weather and snow are required in order to get the tracks in perfect condition for the public. It is always best to check ahead to ensure the locations are open before making your way there.
The trails at Lost Lake are located steps from Whistler Village and offer Nordic skiing from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. They have twenty-five kilometres of groomed trails for both classic and skate disciplines of Nordic skiing. In the evenings, the lights go on and allow skiers to travel around Lost Lake (four kilometres) and have the option to stop in at the warming hut to enjoy some self-catered snacks. Dogs are not allowed at Lost Lake Park in the winter months to withhold the compact nature of the cross-country ski trails.
Rentals are provided at the PassivHaus from Cross Country Connection and have sizes for all, including trailers. Inside the PassivHaus, there is also a cafe serving up hot drinks and tasty snacks.
With trails so close to Whistler Village, grab the entire family to do some night skiing after dinner – better yet, go on a Monday or Thursday night for 50% off admission!
- Day Rate: $22/Adult (19+), $13.20/Youth (13-18), $11/Child (7-12), $44/Family
- Night Rate (from 3:00 PM): $11/Adult (19+), $6.60/Youth (13-18), $5.50/Child (7-12), $22/Family
Whistler Olympic Park
Whether if it is your first time or if you are an avid skier, the Whistler Olympic Park is a great place to learn or hone your skills on trails used by Olympians! As the 2010 Winter Olympic Nordic venue, you will be following in Olympian’s ski tracks as you explore close to ninety kilometres of well-marked trails ranging from green (easy), blue (intermediate), and black (advanced).
Explore trails through old-growth forests and meadows, or work your way to different viewpoints of the surrounding mountain ranges. Cross-country skiing is an easy sport to learn for all ages and fitness levels and rentals are available for all sizes from toddler to adult.
Lessons are also available for the two disciplines of cross-country skiing – classic and skate skiing. The difference between the two is that classic you’re in the carved out tracks in the snow whereas skate skiing is where you ski outside of the tracks.
Lessons are a great way to learn the techniques before taking off on the trails by yourself. Introductory lessons are one and a half hours long and teach the fundamentals of cross-country skiing and are offered on the weekends only. There is also the option for private or group lessons at the Whistler Olympic Park that are available for both children and adults.
Bringing your pooch along for the ride? Whistler Olympic Park also has thirty-kilometres of dog-friendly trails so that you can both get exercise while skiing. The cost to bring your dog is $6/dog and passes can be purchased at the gate. There is a special parking lot for those with dogs which is just before the Day Lodge (a sign points to ‘Dog Parking’) and other than in the parking lot, dogs can be let off leash though must stay under control.
- $28.50/Adult (19-64), $15.75/Youth (7-18), Free/Kids (6 and under)
Just before you reach the Whistler Olympic Park, there is a large red sign that points you left into the Alexander Falls Touring Centre which is the home to Callaghan Country. The area shares a pass with the Whistler Olympic Park (as many of the trails interconnect) but is also an area to get out in the backcountry, on Nordic skis. Advanced skiers can venture out to the Journeyman Lodge where several times in the season host social ski days to the lodge for lunch and back. Those interested can also looking into staying overnight at the lodge, but plan ahead as it books up fast!
Lessons, a store and rental shop, warming hut, and bonfire are part of the rustic experience of Callaghan Country (There is much more to do here than just ski) New this past year is Double Decker Coffee Roasting which is parked on-site and serves up delicious coffee out of a red double-decker bus.
The Valley Trail
In the winter, approximately four kilometres of the Valley Trail is groomed for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dogs on leash. The trail runs from Meadow Park to Rainbow Park and is groomed four times a week. There is no fee to use this trail but you must have your own ski gear to use the trails as there are no rental shops nearby. Check out the Valley Trail all year round.
Resources for the Nordic Skiier
Cross Country Connection at the PassivHaus in Lost Lake Park and Sportstop Source for Sports are two shops in Whistler Village that sell Nordik sports gear (Cross Country Connection also rents gear). Both are great stops for advice about cross-country skiing in Whistler, along with the Whistler Visitor’s Centre.
Out in the Callaghan, the Alexander Falls Touring Centre and the day lodge at the Whistler Olympic Park both have retail shops, rental equipment, and can offer great advice on all things Nordic sports during your visit.
As Whistler has only three official nordic skiing areas, all are well-equipped with maps, up-to-date trail conditions, and also have patrol crews and trail hosts to help guide you. From the comfort of your hotel room, you can also visit their respective websites for trail conditions, maps, and anything else you may need to know prior to visiting the venues.
What Else Can You Do at the Whistler Olympic Park?
While being a hub for Nordic sports, the Whistler Olympic Park is also home to many other activities your whole crew will enjoy – even the dog! Come see why the Callaghan Valley is Whistler’s best-kept secret.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe! It’s a refreshing, low-impact activity that all ages and abilities can enjoy – from toddlers to seniors, snowshoeing is a great introduction to winter. The Whistler Olympic Park has more than forty-kilometres of marked trails, almost twenty of which are dog-friendly, that weave you through old-growth forests, mountain vistas, and Olympic monuments.
Two-hour long snowshoeing tours are also available if you wish to learn more about the park’s sports, legacy, natural history, and enjoy numerous photo opportunities of Olympic monuments and scenery. Tours run daily at 10:30 AM from the Day Lodge and are for ages eight and up with no experience necessary.
The whole family will love tobogganing on the Whistler Olympic Park’s dedicated sledding hill. Bring your own saucers, carpets, or toboggans or borrow from the park for free. Rentals and access to the tobogganing hill are free with admission to the park, and the slope features multiple lanes varying in steepness. Afterwards, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa in the Day Lodge or purchase a smores pack to toast marshmallows on the outdoor bonfire.
Shooting guns and skiing fast – is there any other sports this unusual and cool? The Whistler Olympic Park is the perfect place to try your aim at the sport of biathlon. Booking a lesson is required to get your hands on a rifle and shoot in the Olympic range.
The thirty-minute lesson takes place at the range only (no skiing portion) and runs on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. So long as you’re aged ten plus, biathlon is open to all abilities and might be Whistler’s most unique experience.
Witness the Whistler Olympic Park’s history and legacy from the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games! More than one-third of the Olympic medals were awarded at the Whistler Olympic Park, making it an extremely important venue for Nordik sports along with ski jumping.
Check out the giant ski jumps and imagine skiers launching off the massive structures into oblivion. Read interpretive signage at the cross-country and biathlon stadiums and of course, see the notorious Olympic rings in all their glory. New this season, head to the Day Lodge and explore the Whistler Olympic Park exhibit to get a close look at memorabilia such as the Olympic torch, bibs, podiums, biathlon rifles, and more.
Warm Up in the Day Lodge
The Day Lodge is located up the stairs from the main parking lot and has everything you’ll need before, during, and after your visit to the Whistler Olympic Park. It contains Guest Services, the Rental Shop, Retail Shop, a fully licensed cafe, an outdoor deck with heaters, an outdoor bonfire area (s’mores can be purchased at the cafe), washrooms, change rooms, lockers, showers, a microwave, and ski patrol.
The cafe is operated by Whistler Cooks – a catering company that also runs the Whistler Village restaurant, Hunter Gather. They are open daily during the season and create delicious food. The menu includes locally-inspired meals, drinks, and warming treats perfect for fuelling up after a day in the park. They also cater to gluten-free and vegan diets.
Try Your Hand at Nordic Skiing in Whistler
Whistler may be known for its epic downhill skiing, but why not give Nordic sports a try during your next visit to this mountain town. With no lift lines, high ticket prices, or big crowds, spending a day on cross-country skis is the perfect way to break up your Whistler ski trip this winter and try something new – you might just fall in love with it.