These beginner-friendly hikes in Whistler and the surrounding area are perfect for exploring the PNW’s coastal forests and hidden treasures.
They can be completed in half a day but still take you deep into nature. Each hike has a detailed route description, as well as a Strava route for you to view on your phone and follow along.
This hike starts and ends in Whistler Village so it’s perfect if you don’t have access to a vehicle. The 7 km route roams through beautiful coastal forest with sweeping vistas of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains from the shores of the clear blue waters of Lost Lake. The terrain is lightly undulating with no steep climbs or descents and the trail is mostly packed gravel, meaning it is not a necessity to wear hiking boots, although covered toe footwear is recommended.
If you are taking the route in summer, don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and even a picnic. Lost Lake is not glacier fed and so tends to warm up faster than Whistler’s other lakes, and a refreshing swim half way through your hike feels great in the hotter months of July and August.
Although this hike can be completed in summer and winter, be mindful that you will not be permitted access to the Lost Lake trails if the cross-country ski area is open. Check out the Cross Country Connection winter website for the latest updates.
Looking out across Lost Lake towards Whistler Mountain
Starting from Whistler Village’s Mountain Square, take the Sundial Crescent route around the Pan Pacific Hotel heading towards Blackcomb way. Cross at the traffic lights and make your way along Fitzsimmons Trail. Before the bridge, take a left along the valley trail following signs for Lost Lake.
Check out the Bike Jump Park and the skatepark to your right, before walking along the waters of Fitzsimmons creek. The Valley Trail takes you to PassivHaus, a showcase of modern building standards using state-of-the-art energy efficiency systems that was built for the 2010 Winter Olympics when it served as home of the Austrian team. PassivHaus is now the centre for cross country ski rentals in winter, and mountain biking in summer. You are looking for the trail head to the right of the building, clearly signed.
Follow this main trail towards Lost Lake. After about 1 kilometre, take a right over the bridge and continue along the main trail. If you are hiking in August, watch out for the tiny toads that can cover this section of the trail around Blackcomb creek!
You will shortly arrive at Lost Lake park: a grassy area with Lost Lake’s beaches. From here, you can choose to travel clockwise or anticlockwise around the lake; either way brings you back to Lost Lake park.
Lost Lake Park and Beach
For your return trip you can either follow your steps back to the Village, or walk along the fairways of the Fairmont Golf Course.
If you choose the second return option, from Lost Lake park, start to walk back the way you arrived, but before crossing the bridge, take a left turn which will bring you alongside Lost Lake Road. After looking right across the fairways, take the trail to your right and follow the south side of the golf course. At the end of the golf course, continuing straight along this path takes you back to PassivHaus. A short trip back along the route you came out on brings you back to Whistler Village.
View the Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/5305478
Cheakamus Lake is a bright blue, glacier-fed lake in between Whistler Mountain and the Black Tusk. It can be seen from the top of Whistler in both winter and summer. This hike walks through a cool forested trail before the trees open up to give stunning vistas of the lake and the mountains in the background. There is no major elevation gain on this hike at all.
It is recommended to do this hike in the summer months and fall – usually between June and October. Access to the trailhead is via a 7 km dirt road which, depending on snowfall levels in the valley, is usually only accessible by sled in winter.
Looking out across Cheakamus Lake in late fall
To get to the trailhead by car from Whistler Village, drive south on Highway 99 towards Function Junction, then take a left turn at Cheakamus Crossing. Follow this road for about 500 m, then look for a sign for Cheakamus Lake Road on your left. This turn-off is easy to miss – check out the Google Street View image below for reference.
Keep left at the intersection just after the turn onto Cheakamus Lake Road. It is not necessary to have a 4×4 to get to the trailhead, but if driving a 2-wheel drive vehicle, take it slow.
The dirt road continues for about 7 km and ends in a car park. This is the trailhead for the Cheakamus Lake hike.
The trail is well worn and very easy to follow. There is only one turn-off before reaching the edge of the lake: a trail to the right about 2 km into the hike (which takes you up an alternate route to Panorama Ridge, the Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake – a post for another day!)
Once you reach the lake, I recommend walking the trail along the water’s edge which opens up onto some small pebbled beach areas with some incredible views. If you’re feeling brave you can take a dip but be prepared for some icy water!
The glacier-fed lake’s waters are icy cold, even in mid to late summer!
You can walk for as long as you like along the edge of the lake. When you are ready to return, simply follow your steps back to the trailhead and the parking lot.
View the Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/5380498
The Sea to Sky Trail actually stretches 180 km from Squamish, through Whistler, Pemberton and ends in D’Arcy. Although parts of the trail are still under construction, the section between Cheakamus and Brandywine falls is perfect for hiking or beginner mountain bikers. This route is an out-and-back, unless you have someone to pick you up at Brandywine Falls. The full out and back route would be around 22 km and take a day to complete, the beauty of the Sea to Sky trail is that you can make your hike as long as you want, and return the way you came.
To get to the trailhead, drive south on the Sea to Sky towards Function Junction, then take a left turn at Cheakamus Crossing. Just before reaching Cheakamus itself (the 2010 Olympics Athletes’ Village) take the left turn onto Jane Lakes Road. Just past the capped landfill look for a trailhead on the left of the road.
The Sea to Sky Trail runs alongside the Cheakamus River
The trail is very clearly marked and is regularly maintained. For the most part it is packed gravel and the terrain is lightly rolling.
After a couple of kilometres you will go through a series of tight switchbacks then cross a creek to a forestry road. Turn right, down the hill, to a bridge over the Cheakamus River.
After the bridge, follow the trail until you can see the highway. Bear left here and follow the trail to the dirt road at the Cal-Cheak Recreation Site.
The intended route for the Sea to Sky trail is over the Cal-Cheak suspension bridge over Callaghan Creek and on. However this section of the trail is not yet complete, so for now (time of writing is June 2016), follow the dirt road, left down the hill and over the bailey bridge over the Cheakamus River. Follow this road to the Whistler Bungee Bridge and cross over. From the west end of the Bungee Bridge follow the trail where it meets the Brandywine Falls trail.
View the Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/5380533
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