Explore Whistler | Mountain Biking Edition
Whistler is a mountain biker’s dream – from the lift accessed Whistler mtn Bike Park to pedal powered alpine excursions on the Lord of the Squirrels trail, the opportunities are endless for Whistler mountain biking adventures.
Seasoned pros will feel challenged on Whistler’s technical single track trails and double black runs in the bike park, but there’s something for everyone in Whistler – even absolute beginners.
Come see what it’s all about and understand why most locals came to Whistler for the winter but stayed for the summers.
Top 5 Reasons to Mountain Bike in Whistler
It’s so easy to mountain bike in Whistler – with hotels specializing in bike-friendly accommodation (think bike wash stations and secure bike storage), buses allowing bikes on board (Epic Rides), and the infamous Valley Trail that links Whistler and all its neighbourhoods via a 40+ kilometre paved pedestrian and bike only pathway.
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park can be accessed from the main Whistler Village or Creekside, and plenty of single track trails such as Lost Lake Park, Westside, and Cheakamus are a quick bike ride away.
Here are five more reasons to why mountain biking in Whistler should be on your list:
- Whistler Mountain Bike Park
With everything from technical rock slabs and skinny woodwork to flowy single track, Whistler mtn Bike Park is a unique experience that has something for everyone. Ride the chairlift or gondola to your desired run and enjoy a gravity-fed downhill experience, allowing you to save your legs for multiple laps. All levels and abilities are catered for with four mountain zones featuring green trails, technical double blacks, jump trails, and more.
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is open from May 17 to October 14 and also feature lessons and camps for all ages and abilities. The only prerequisite is that you feel comfortable riding a bike on pavement, then they’ll do the rest!
- Trails for All Abilities
Whistler is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to mountain biking – there’s something for every ability and experience! Bike the gravel pathway around Lost Lake with your family, or conquer some of the gnarliest climbs amongst the pros.
Most of the trails offer signposts that display the level of difficulty the trail is (ie. Green indicates easy, Blue is intermediate, Black is difficult) and it’s all about progression – start small and build up to larger features once you feel more comfortable. A Whistler mountain biking guide can also help you find appropriate trails, teach you the fundamental skills of mountain biking, and keep you safe.
- Mountain Bike Mecca
Just like skiers and snowboarders take over in the winter, the village is exploding with bikes come summertime and everyone is riding bikes. There is bike-friendly accommodation that offers guest bike wash and tuning stations along with secure storage, weekly mountain bike races, and bike racks located throughout the Village and at the lakes, beaches, and picnic spots.
Speciality shops throughout the village cater to any last-minute gear needs or repairs, and there are many festivals such as GO Fest (May 17-20), ThinkBike (June 7-9), and Crankworx (August 9-18) that bring mountain bikers and fans together through sport and culture
- Views for Days
In the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, advanced riders can challenge themselves on the appropriately named Top of the World trail, which takes them from the peak of Whistler to the Valley floor. The technical and beautiful trail has stunning views of Black Tusk, Cheakamus Lake, and experiences the change from rocky, exposed alpine to the lush forests.
Tickets for the Top of the World are purchased separately from a Whistler Mountain Bike Park pass and is open from June 22 to September 8.
Riders looking to stray from the bike park can enjoy a variety of rides with incredible views, such as the new Lord of the Squirrels trail that takes bikers up to the top of Sproatt Mountain (opposite side of the valley from Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains). The ride takes approximately 3-8 hours (yes, that is a range we realise – depends on your fitness and photo stops!). It is a 1400 metre climb so skill and fitness must be taken into account before attempting this ride.
Those who do conquer the trail are rewarded with amazing alpine views after climbing through mossy old growth forests. Say thanks and support trail maintenance by donating to WORCA (Whistler Off Road Cycling Association) – they were the power and brains behind this incredible trail.
Want other, easier to access views? Check out the Top Instagrammable Spots in Whistler!
- The World Class Crankworx Festival
Crankworx Whistler takes place between August 9 and 18 and is the ultimate mountain biking experience for all ages. The festival brings together top athletes to compete in elite-level competitions in a variety of disciplines as well as hosting amateurs, Kidsworx contests for young riders, participatory events, and celebrations of mountain bike culture.
While the festival has gone international, each year the global mountain bike community comes home to Crankworx Whistler for the ultimate celebration of all things mountain bike. The original festival and the largest of all the tour stops – Crankworx Whistler is the defining celebration of mountain biking.
Why a Guide Makes the Difference
Hiring a mountain bike guide can turn your holiday from good to great and can save so much of the time and energy spent on research towards getting out there and having a great time! Here’s why hiring a guide should be considered during your mountain bike holiday in Whistler.
- Local Knowledge
The mountain bike trails in Whistler are like a spider’s web – plentiful, elaborate, and you might get stuck! Guides live in Whistler and get out to these trails daily, and will be aware of the changing trail conditions and take you to the best spots for your energy and ability. Trails can close due to wildlife, hazards such as fallen trees, or trail maintenance so avoid any roadblocks by travelling with a guide who can help mitigate any delays and get you riding incredible trails.
- Find Your Trail
Whistler mountain bike guides are patient and safety-conscious and will never take you into areas where you’ll feel uncomfortable. Mountain biking is all about progression, so they’ll start you off on easier trails and work their way up from there. While some features may seem challenging, guides are happy to session them to break down the steps to have you balancing on woodwork or rolling your first rock. It may seem scary and it’s totally up to you, but the satisfaction you get once you complete a feature is the ultimate biker’s high
- Safety First
Helmet – check. Elbow pads – check. Knee Pads – check. Guides will ensure you have all the proper gear to make your experience fun while keeping you safe. Learn proper techniques on how to fall, how to approach certain features, and will take the time to session any tricky features to figure out the best route down. Most guides also hold outdoor first aid training certificates and will carry a first aid kit with them should they need to bandage a scrape.
- Fundamental Skills
Break bad habits early on and set a foundation for best biking practices by learning with a guide. Body positioning, foot and hand placement, and braking techniques will be cemented in the beginning so a smooth ride than can handle any terrain by letting the bike move freely underneath you with your arms and legs (and shocks) absorbing any impacts.
Learning the fundamentals can make all the difference, and can help you progress to bigger and better things on the trails.
Never Been Mountain Biking Before? What You Need to Know
Never been mountain biking? No problem! So long as you have ridden a bike of some kind before and feel comfortable riding on pavement, taking to the trails will be the next step.
What Should I Wear?
You want to feel comfortable while riding a bike, so take into account the weather and conditions before setting out. Many shops in town sell mountain bike gear, and safety equipment such as helmets and armour can be rented.
- Helmet: full-face for the Whistler mtn Bike Park or a half lid for cross country and Valley trail riding. Full face helmets are mandatory in the bike park, and local bylaws state that helmets must be worn everywhere else in Whistler.
- Biking jersey and shorts: a breathable long sleeved loose shirt will suffice, along with a pair of active shorts. Padded shorts can be a gamechanger for longer rides.
- Mountain biking gloves: full-fingered gloves are essential when mountain biking and can save your hands from branches, rocks, and for wipeouts. They make holding on, shifting, and braking a breeze as they prevent your sweaty hands from slipping.
- Bike shoes: if you’re just starting out, wearing flat soles shoes such as sneakers or skateboard styled shoes. Mountain bike pedals are flat, so avoid shoes with big lugs as they don’t grip as well.
- Pads and armour: knee and elbow pads are highly recommended for beginner riders, and those looking for further bike park protection when hitting big features can wear a neck brace, and check and back protection.
- Pack and essentials: hydration packs make a huge difference when riding, but a small backpack with a water bottle, snacks, first aid kit, and tire repair kit can come in handy.
What Kind of Bike Do I Need?
Trying to decide what kind of bike is right for you depends on how you will be using the bike. If you plan on going into the bike park, you will need a full suspension downhill bike that is big and tough and can handle the pressure of jumps, berms, rock gardens, and wooden ladders
Riders looking to take on cross country trails outside of the bike park would benefit from an all-mountain bike with full suspension, a dropper post, and is relatively lightweight so that climbing is easy.
How Fit Do I Need to Be?
Mountain biking does require endurance, core strength, balance, and bike handling skills but should scare anyone away from trying. Fitness can be built up over time, and there are trails that cater to those looking for a mellow ride compared to those looking for an intense sweat session. A positive attitude is the best characteristic you’ll need when hopping on a mountain bike for the first time
Will I Crash?
There are two types of mountain bikers – those who have crashed and those who will. Crashing is a part of the sport, but with proper training and practice you can help to alleviate the risk of a major crash.
Learning how to fall is one of the first things a guide will teach you when mountain biking and will help to avoid potential injury when on the trail. In the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, patrollers are on trail to keep you safe and for those riding elsewhere, carrying a small first aid kit is always helpful to yourself and your friends.
Mountain Biking: A Whistler Tradition
Similar to skiing and snowboarding in Whistler, mountain biking in Whistler has a long and epic season spanning from Spring to Fall. It’s a huge part of the culture here and a great way to travel like a local in Whistler is to give mountain biking a try.
Whether you’ve been mountain biking before or are an absolute beginner, there’s something for everything in Whistler. You may come out of it with a new addiction to the adrenaline-inducing sport, or at least a war wound to show off to all your friends.