5 Best Hikes in Whistler
And how to soothe your aching muscles afterwards.
There’s plenty of ways to indulge yourself in Whistler. But the nice thing about Vancouver’s favourite alpine playground is that there are plenty of ways to work off that decadent pork belly and scallop dish (and that third glass of gamay noir) afterwards. In the summer, that means hiking, and though there are a million gorgeous trails to explore, we’ve narrowed down our five favourites to make your selection a little bit easier.
The 5 Best Hikes in Whistler
Whistler Interpretive Forest
Length: A 4 km round trip—allow one to two hours.
This low-impact trail starts off winding through a thicket of cedars, towering firs, and plenty of signage explaining fun nature facts, before leading you to a winding path that runs along the turqiouse Cheakamus River to a slim suspension bridge–a natural spot to cross and head back down the other side. (But the trail stretches on for almost 70 kilometres, so if you’re feeling ambitious, your walk doesn’t have to stop there.) The wide, clear dirt path makes it ideal for jogging or biking if that’s your jam, but our favourite thing about this hike is that it’s just down the road from the Purebread at Function Junction. Fuel up on salted caramel bars or strawberries-and-cream sugar buns before (and/or after) hitting the trail. More info here.
High Note Trail
Length: The 9.4 km loop should take three or four hours
The views of Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk Mountain are stunning, to be sure, but the highlight of the High Note Trail (take the gondola to get to the trailhead) is the alpine wildflower fields. As you loop from the peak of Whistler Mountain around Harmony Ridge, you’ll stumble upon fields at every turn, bursting with blossoms in vibrant hues. (Instagrammers, do your thing.) Download the wildflower identification guide to brush up on your lingo before you go—you wouldn’t want to embarrass yourself mixing up fireweed and pink monkey-flowers. More info here.
Ancient Cedars Grove
Length: A 5 km round-trip, about two hours
You’ll have to drive about 10 kilometres from Whistler proper to get to the trailhead, but it’s worth it—at the end of the uphill loop trail (there’s a gradual elevation change of about 150 m), you’ll discover a grove of old-growth cedar trees, hundreds of feet tall and some more than 900 years old. Many are so big that you’d need a dozen people to reach all the way around and the fallen trees showcase mesmerizing root systems. Go in the fall to see the spectacular autumn colours. More info here.
Length: 14 km round-trip, five to seven hours
It’s shorter than Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, but it’s one of Whistler’s steepest hikes—it gains a brisk 1,200 metres over 7 kilometres—so come prepared to work up a sweat. The views of the crystal-clear lake make for a stunning reward at the end of your scramble to the top, but if you’re the camping type, spend the night on one of the handy (and thankfully, sturdy) wooden tent platforms, and soak up the breathtaking stars come nightfall. More info here.
Length: 16 km round-trip, six hours
This consistently uphill hike is a tough one, but it has it all—wildflowers, suspension bridges, magical forest vibes, plenty of twittering birds—plus a thundering waterfall (named—surprise—Rainbow Falls). When you actually get to the sparkling, picture-perfect lake, though, avoid jumping in: this is Whistler’s drinking water source. Instead, keep going for another kilometre-and-a-half, where you’ll find the totally swimmable Hanging Lake. More info on Rainbow Lake here.
Whichever hike you choose, grab a map at the Whistler Visitor Centre before you hit the trail.
You just conquered a mountain, so your glutes are probably going to need a little loving once you get back down to earth. The Four Seasons’ Spa is probably the best place to deal with those post-hike aches—the Sports Recovery massage is specifically designed to perk up overworked muscles, utilizing invigorating eucalyptus oils and some serious hip stretches to nurse you back to health. After all, you’re going to want to be in full working order so you can get out there and tackle one of these other hikes—or another culinary adventure.
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