Just beyond the world renowned Whistler village lies a wonderland of incredible views and world class trails. For the summer months, hikers of all experience levels come from far and wide to take part in alpine hiking to soak up the sights of lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and meadows filled with wild-flowers.
As one of the most scenic destinations in British Columbia, Garibaldi Lake is well worth the effort. This 18km hike has a well-kept trail within Garibaldi Lake Provincial Park. The hike begins through dense forest and heads up a grueling, trail more than 6km long before hikers go left at a junction towards Taylor Meadows.
Hikers in the late summer and early fall will be in for a treat of an array of wild-flowers lining the trail sides. During your hike, you will be able to see the peak of Black Tusk clearly from the Taylor Meadows area. On the approach to Garibaldi Lake, as you come around the final bend, the lake becomes more and more visible opening into a beautiful view of the turquoise coloured lake surrounded by mountains and a glacier directly in forn. If you’re feeling extra daring, bring a swimsuit and enjoy a cold glacier lake swim.
The 30km alpine hike to Panorama Ridge is a long stretch and while it can be done all in one day, some hikers prefer to spread it over two days. Camping is available at Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows which provides a midway point for your trek. During the mid summer, usually late-July or early-August, Taylor Meadows is filled with blooming alpine flowers in a variety of bright colours. As this is an ecologically sensitive area, it is important to stay along the trail.
After passing the Taylor Meadows area, the climb is gradual through the alpine vegetation but becomes steeper and leads to the ridge becoming all alpine rock. The rocky slopes can be very challenging but worth the hard work. The trail emerges out into the open where you can see the beautiful view of Garibaldi Lake below with surrounding mountains and the glacier in the distance.
If you are up for the challenge, Wedgemount Lake is a magnificent destination. The climb has an elevation gain of more than 1100 meters in only 7km. Approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes in, try to keep an eye out for a glimpse of the astounding Wedgemount Waterfall.
During the grueling climb you will scramble through the rocky terrain using your hands to steady the way. As the trail begins to level out, you will see a glacier and only a few minutes more you will come upon the British Columbia Mountaineering Club hut. This area offers a perfect place for a well-deserved resting spot to take in the views of the turquoise-colored Wedgemount Lake or push on just a bit farther to see the entire glacier.
High Note Trail
Beginning at the top of Whistler Mountain, the High Note Trail offers the most scenic view of Cheakamus Lake from high above. If you time your adventure just right, in early August, you can catch the hills scattered with blooming wild flowers.
Hikers should be fairly fit to complete this trail, however the advantage of this hike is there is not the grueling uphill section to reach the alpine as you take the Whistler Gondola and chairlift to the peak.
After passing high above Cheakamus Lake, the trail leads down towards Sun Bowl, surrounded by alpine mountains and containing Symphony Lake. The quick descent leads you to Harmony Lake before you change pace for a quick uphill climb back up to the Whistler Gondola.
This alpine hike may only be 6km but the terrain and steep grade, make Brandywine Meadows a challenge. In the first kilometer, expect to break a sweat but watch your trail awareness, as the trail markings can prove difficult to follow. Just watch for the orange tree markers as you make your way up the mountainside through fallen trees, slippery rocks and mud filled sections of the trail. Like many of the Whistler trails, Brandywine Meadows fills with the colours and gorgeous smells of the wildflowers during mid-summer for just a few, short weeks. Once you’ve reached the meadows, take a break and enjoy a packed lunch surrounded by the alpine mountain peaks and trickling streams.