Whistler has a strong reputation for being a lively ski-and-snowboarding town that's filled with countless tourists and adventurous Australian residents. As a lifelong Vancouverite who's been to Whistler numerous times, I have come to acknowledge that these stereotypes are fairly accurate.
But in my most recent trip to Whistler, I had the chance to try some new activities and realized that Whistler is much more than just snow-sports destination. For starters, Whistler has many spots outside of the Village that offer recreation in another sense. For example, you can take a leisurely stroll through Wayside Park in Creekside, enjoy a quiet day of wellness at Scandinave Spa, or take a brewery tour at spots such as Whistler Brewing Company.
And then there are Whistler's scenic hiking trails, many of which have played second fiddle to the town's ski-and-snowboard scene for far too long. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner, novice or expert—there's a trail for everybody. Here's a list of some short but stunning Whistler hikes—and where to stay if you're looking to make a weekend of it this summer.
Alpine Hiking on Whistler Blackcomb
Time: Around 60–90 minutes
Distance: Around 2–4 kilometres (one way)
After taking the Whistler Village Gondola or Peak 2 Peak 360 Experience to Whistler Mountain, hikers are faced with numerous trails with varying levels of difficulty. Seeking a moderate hike? Start at Roundhouse Lodge and walk down Pika's Traverse Road. Despite the trail's steep and gravely sections, it's relatively wide, which lowers its overall difficulty. Pika's Traverse is the main pathway to the snow walls, a pathway carved through metres of snow left over from winer. The tallest walls can be seen between the Harmony Inukshuk and the top Harmony Chair, but expect the majority of the walls to be melted by August. More information here.
Train Wreck Hike
Time: Around 60 minutes
Distance: 2 kilometres
Located near Function Junction (a 10-minute drive from Whistler Village), the Train Wreck hike runs through tall cedar and fir trees and mostly flat paths covered by some fallen branches and exposed tree roots. This hike is perfect for those searching for a light to moderate walk with some Instagram-worthy spots. A short forested trail eventually leads to a suspension bridge (opened in 2016), which overseas the Cheakamus River and connects the Trash Trail with the Train Wreck Trail. After crossing the bridge, you will find an array of graffitied train cars that have been in the forest since 1956. Local graffiti artists have transformed these abandoned train cars into public art pieces—climb on top them to get a perfect view of the forest and river. More information here.
Time: Around 50–80 minutes
Distance: 1.5 kilometres
Vallea Lumina isn't technically a hike—it's more of a ticketed multimedia night walk through a forested trail. The exact location of Vallea Lumina is kept secret. Once the sun sets, guests catch a shuttle bus from a designated pick-up spot to Cougar Mountain base, where they enter a marked trail illuminated by lights. As you walk through the wide forested trails and up the moderate slopes, you will witness a narrative story told through lights, image projections and music. This walk isn't meant to be strenuous. In fact, guests are expected to stop at numerous points to watch the jaw-dropping visual displays. More information here.
Where to Stay
The aforementioned hikes may not take more than 90 minutes tops each, but why not make a weekend of it? (The extra time will allow you to get in double the walks while exploring Whistler's buzzy food-and-drink scene.) Situated in Creekside Village—an eight-minute drive from Whistler Village—Nita Lake Lodge offers an ideal spot to rest your feet (perhaps with a cocktail in hand) while you take in the picturesque lake-and-mountain views.
There are a variety of on-site activities to keep you occupied once you need a break from the outdoors, too. The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge soothes sore muscles with its hot-stone and Swedish message treatments, for instance, while Nita's Aura Restaurant—with its hearty French-meets-west-coast fare—is a destination in itself.