- Difficulty Difficult
- Time 7 hours
- Round-Trip 19km
- Elevation Gain 1080 meters
- Season July - September
- Camping No
- From Vancouver 2 hours
- Public Transit Yes
- Dog Friendly No
The Skywalk South route is located on the west side of Whistler and follows several trails up into the alpine offering incredibly scenic views of Rainbow Mountain, Rainbow Glacier, and views across the Whistler valley. Hikers can decide whether to add an extra 2km (1km each way) up the steep, rocky trail to Iceberg Lake before returning.
There are several different trails that the Skywalk South route follows, beginning from the top of Alpine Way and following Rick?s Roost before going left on the Rainbow Flank Trail. Eventually, the route joins with the Upper 19 Mile Creek Trail where you can hike further to Iceberg Lake or return back down hill, before going right on the Rainbow-Flank North Trail and arriving back at Alpine Way. It is also best to plan to do the Skywalk North Loop as a separate day-hike.
From the top of Alpine Way, walk past the yellow metal gate and follow the wide gravel road as it heads uphill quickly. This route is known as Rick?s Roost. At a clearing, go left and stay on the main gravel road as it passes a second switchback before climbing steeply again. After following the gravel road for about 45-minutes, watch for a post with a white sign on the left marked with the Rainbow Flank Trail.
Go left onto the Rainbow Flank Trail and follow the narrow route through the forest as it climbs at a gradual pace. Within 30-minutes, you?ll reach a clearing that is used as a launch point for paragliders, which also offers a great view looking down towards Whistler.
Just 5-minutes beyond the paraglider launch area, you will reach a junction with the Skywalk South Trail. Go right and follow the Skywalk South as it climbs very steeply through the forest and passes a large green structure.
After hiking for about 20-30 minutes, you will reach another junction with a sign for the Rainbow?s End Trail. It?s a bit confusing because it seems like you are leaving the Skywalk South Trail but you will follow the Rainbow?s End Trail for quite awhile up into the alpine until it rejoins the Skywalk South Trail at another junction. Go right onto the Rainbow?s End Trail and begin hiking uphill for quite awhile.
The trail climbs at a fairly steady pace, steep in some sections, before reaching the sub alpine where it briefly descends before climbing again. The higher you get, the fewer the trees and the better the views. Remember to look back as you begin to see incredible views back down towards Whistler and across to Black Tusk. If you time it right in August, the meadows will be filled with a sea of colour wildflowers.
The trail eventually reaches a junction in the alpine with the Skywalk South Trail. Go right onto Skywalk South and go up the small hill where you immediately reach a beautiful small lake. Walk along the trail on the left side of the lake over the loose rock as it hugs the shoreline and follow the orange markers as you continue through the alpine.
On a clear day, this next section of trail should treat you to some non-stop incredible views of the alpine and surrounding area around Rainbow Mountain. Continue following the trail, watching for markers until you reach a viewpoint, just before the trail descends. This will be the highest elevation point of the hike and a great place to stop for lunch before the trail descends down towards the meadow and meets with the Upper 19 Mile Creek Trail.
Follow the Skywalk South Trail downhill, carefully watching your step on the loose rock and looking up to see the changing views. Each view gives a different angle of Rainbow Glacier, Rainbow Mountain, and the mountains to the east of Whistler. There is another great viewpoint on a rocky bluff that looks down onto the meadows below Rainbow Glacier, while a few steps behind, you can peer down the valley towards Whistler.
The trail continues to descend before passing the outhouse and reaching the junction with the Upper 19 Mile Trail. At the junction, you will have to decide whether to hike an extra 1km (2km each way) up the steep rocky trail to Iceberg Lake. If you decide not to, it is still worth going left at the junction and walking about 100 metres to a view of the meadows with Rainbow Glacier towering above. During mid-July, just after the snow has melted in the meadow, there are several waterfalls on the rocks as the snow melts from the higher elevation.
From the junction, begin your return hike going down the Upper 19 Mile Creek Trail as it descends into the forest, following the creek on the left. There are several switchbacks, wooden steps, and a few small waterfalls along the trail. Cross a wooden bridge over the creek and continue past the junction with Kevin?s Home Run Trail. The Upper 19 Mile Creek veers away from the creek as you pass through the forest and some marshy areas.
Eventually, the trail regions a junction with a wide trail called the Rainbow-Flank North Trail. Hikers who went straight to Iceberg Lake for the day will be going left, however, you must go right on this trail to return to Alpine Way.
Go right and follow the wide, gravel trail as it soon passes over a wooden bridge over the creek. Continue following the wide gravel trail and it will take you all the way back to Alpine Way. The route will eventually pass the junction where you turned onto the Rainbow-Flank Trail earlier in the day, before descending down the steep gravel road and through the two switchbacks, returning to the yellow gate where you began.