Here at 10Hikes.com, we have spent the spring, summer and now autumn hiking throughout North America. One of the highlights of 2016 was our time in Whistler, which has some of the most spectacular hiking we encountered. Frankly, we are surprised the town isn't teeming with hikers. The blend of exceptional hiking and a full-service town with off-season pricing is hard to beat. Better yet, the region was comparatively quiet, except on weekends, when it seems most of Vancouver heads up for the day. Still, compared to the daily one-hour traffic jams in Yosemite or the mad rush for parking in Banff or Yellowstone, Whistler was relaxed.
Following are five of our favourite hikes:
#1 Panorama Ridge
The views here are breathtaking and rival those of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park for the best in Canada. Panorama Ridge is a very long day, at almost 31 kilometres. This can be done if you're in good shape, but a more enjoyable way to do it is to book a night or two (preferably midweek) at Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake campgrounds and savour this stunning region. From the campgrounds, you can take more measured daytrips up to Panorama Ridge as well as the base of Black Tusk. On hot days, head down to Garibaldi Lake for a quick dip, but be ready, it's chilly!
#2 Cheakamus Lake
The hike to Cheakamus Lake is one of the best in the Whistler region, and great for intermediate hikers. For those of you who prefer two pedals to two feet, the route can also be biked, making this a quick trip. From the trailhead, just south of Whistler, this hike can be as short or as long as you like, with the lake only three kilometres from the trailhead. Our favourite route is a 16.6-kilometre return part way around the lake and gains just under 500 metres of elevation. Once you reach the lake, the views are world class, with the vista into Garibaldi Provincial Park and the mountains overlooking the lake ones you won't soon forget.
#3 Wedgemount Lake
Wedgemount Lake combines a stunning lake with glaciers and big mountains. The trailhead is 14 kilometres north of Whistler, and this spectacular 15.6-kilometre hike gains almost 1,400 metres of elevation, so it's a steep one — like spending a few hours on the Stairmaster at the gym. Most hikers should take between six and eight hours to complete the hike. Once at the lake, the views are incredible, with a stunning aquamarine lake flanked by mountains and glaciers.
#4 Joffre Lakes
Here's a warning: don't try and do this hike on a weekend — traffic can be a bit nuts. This 12-kilometre hike is a perfect half day hike for most people, which explains why it can get so busy. Head north from Pemberton to the trailhead, and from there you'll quickly reach Lower Joffre Lake. After this lake, you start to gain elevation to Middle Joffre Lake. Up above is Joffre Lake and the Matier Glacier. Head on up and enjoy stunning views.
#5 Blackcomb Meadows
Not everybody likes long days with lots of elevation gain. This is where using the lifts at Whistler and Blackcomb come in handy. We prefer the hike along Blackcomb Meadows and views over the stunning Overlord Lookout. In Autumn you need to take the Whistler Village Gondola to the incredible Peak 2 Peak Gondola over to Blackcomb. From the station, this 10-kilometre hike takes in some of the most spectacular views in Whistler, while only gaining 500 metres of elevation. Once done, take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola back to Whistler and then the Peak Chair up for spectacular views from Whistler Mountain.
While many people are preparing for the busy winter season at Whistler, our experiences lead us to believe that summer is an equally tantalizing time to enjoy all that Whistler has to offer. To find more great hikes, check out 10hikes.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.