Coast Range: Whistler Resort, Garibaldi & Joffre Lakes Provincial Parks
The Resort Municipality of Whistler is not only one of the most scenic ski areas in North America, but also hosts great summer hiking and mountain biking. Whistler has become a thriving center for year-round outdoor sports in the Coast Range of British Columbia, Canada. Hiking at Whistler is well worth the 10 hours round trip drive from Seattle, if you stay for a minimum of 3 nights — but allow extra traffic time for the slow border crossing between Canada and USA. (Read more about expedited entry / US Immigration.) Stay in a condominium or campground and hike the scenic trails featured below. The official visitors’ web site www.whistlerblackcomb.com helpfully books lodging and provides hiking, mountain biking, and skiing maps. Nearby Garibaldi Lake is one of my favorite wilderness trips (day hike or backpack).
Photo gallery of Whistler Resort, Garibaldi Provincial Park, and Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
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The Peak 2 Peak Gondola connects Whistler Village Gondola with Solar Coaster Express on Blackcomb Mountain for sightseeing or skiing variety. Buy a season pass if using lifts more than 2 days. Built in 2008, Peak 2 Peak Gondola holds world records for the longest free span between ropeway towers (3.03 kilometers or 1.88 miles) and highest point above the ground (436 meters or 1430 feet).
I recommend the following hikes near Whistler:
- On Whistler Mountain, hike the High Note Trail to views of turquoise Cheakamus Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park and onward to Harmony Lake, back to Whistler Village Gondola at Roundhouse Lodge (6 miles or 10k, with 2200 feet descent and 1000 feet ascent). Start the walk with a ride to the top of Whistler Peak Express Chairlift, which is a short walk downhill from Roundhouse Lodge.
- Hike the Overlord Trail on Blackcomb Mountain (2440 meters) for flowers and good views in the Spearhead Range across Fitzsimmons Valley. Starting from the top of Solar Coaster Express Chairlift on Blackcomb Mountain, walk round trip for 1 to 6 miles (2k to 10k), with up to 1700 feet of ascent, ending with a chairlift back down to Whistler Village.
- Driving 25k south of Whistler, backpack 1 or 2 nights to turquoise Garibaldi Lake, hiking to Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk. Garibaldi Provincial Park is east of the Sea to Sky Highway (Route 99) between Squamish and Whistler in the Coast Range. A hiking loop to Garibaldi Lake via Taylor Meadows Campground is 11 miles (18k) round trip, with 3010 ft (850m) gain. Panorama Ridge is 6 miles (10k) RT with 2066 ft (630m) gain from either Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake Campground (or 17 miles RT with 5100 ft gain from Rubble Creek parking lot).
- Drive an hour on the main highway northeast from Whistler to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, BC. A rough, rocky, steep hike of 10 kilometers round trip ascends (400 meters up) by a rushing stream to three beautiful turquoise lakes. The Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes are colored by glacial silt which reflects green and blue sunlight. The road onwards to Lilloet is very scenic.
Global warming/climate change:
As of 2005, Overlord Glacier had retreated 880 meters from its terminus of year 1929. From the early 1700s to 2005, half (51%) of the glacial ice cover of Garibaldi Provincial Park melted away (Koch et al. 2008, web.unbc.ca). The record of 1900s glacier ﬂuctuations in Garibaldi Park is similar to that in southern Europe, South America, and New Zealand, suggesting a common, global climatic cause. Read more about global warming/climate change.
See related articles
- 2015 Sept: Garibaldi backpack + Canadian Rockies tour
- CANADA: Canadian Rockies & Columbia Mountains parks
- Bicycle Jasper to Banff, Icefields Parkway
Recommended Canada and Montana guidebooks from Amazon.com:
2003: 2011: 2010: 2010:
2012: 2011: 2011: 2010:
- Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park (2003 Mountaineers Books) by Vicky Spring. The ultimate trail guide to one of the most beautiful hiking places in the world.
- Canadian Rockies Trail Guide (2011) by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson
- Gillean Daffern’s Kananaskis Country Trail Guide-4th Edition: Volume 1: Kananaskis Valley–Kananaskis Lakes–Elk Lakes–The Smith-Dorrien(2010)
- Moon Canadian Rockies: Including Banff & Jasper National Parks (Moon Handbooks 2010)
- Lonely Planet Banff, Jasper and Glacier National Parks (2012) by Oliver Berry
- Geology of British Columbia: A Journey Through Time (2011) by Cannings
- Moon Montana (Moon Handbooks) (2009) by W. C. McRae
- Moon Montana & Wyoming: Including Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks (Moon Handbooks) (2011) by Carter G. Walker
- Ghost Towns of the Mountain West: Your Guide to the Hidden History and Old West Haunts of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada (2010) by Philip Varney
- Roadside Geology of Montana (Roadside Geology Series) by David D. Alt