Hiking season is long and so is the list of hikes available in the Sea to Sky region. Here are a few sure to impress you.

 

Rainbow Lake

Rainbow Lake is located in Whistler and is one of the area’s most scenic and pristine alpine lakes. In August, the wildflowers around the lake are in full bloom and the views on a clear day are spectacular, with Black Tusk visible in the distance. The trail follows 21 Mile Creek as you pass Rainbow Falls near the beginning and climb gradually through a scenic forested trail. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. This trail closes during winter months, however, experienced snowshoers and cross-country skiers do use it during those months. Rainbow Lake is a source of Whistler’s drinking water and therefore, swimming in the lake and camping at the lake are NOT permitted. Camping is allowed at Hanging Lake, which is 1.5km beyond Rainbow Lake.  

Wedgemount

The hike to Wedgemount Lake is one of the most difficult in Garibaldi Provincial Park, with an elevation gain of more than 1100 meters in just 7km. However, the spectacular alpine scenery makes the grueling trek well worth it. Wedgemount Lake is an unbelievable turquoise colour and is surrounded by snow-capped, granite peaks. Just beyond the lake, and just as impressive, sits the Wedgemount Glacier. Before leaving, make sure you’ve packed plenty of water as well as a jacket. Temperatures can surprisingly be very cool at the top even on the warmest days in mid-summer. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. As of July 2021, folks coming to Garibaldi Provincial Park must reserve a free day-use permit before arriving. Every hiker, even folks going on short hikes must obtain the free permit. Reserve your free day-use permit now at discovercamping.ca.  

The Chief

The Stawamus Chief is one of the region’s classic hikes that takes you up the steep trail to one of its three peaks, offering incredible views of the area surrounding Squamish, including Howe Sound and north to Garibaldi Provincial Park. The hike to the top is challenging in sections and there are a few places where features help assist you, including a ladder and chains, but the reward is well worth the effort. A rough estimation of time would be 6-hours to complete depending on your level of fitness. Alternative, you could just go to the 1st or 2nd peaks which take roughly 2.5 hours to the top and back. It’s a rock-climbers paradise with hundreds of climbing routes and granite walls that will keep even the most advanced rock climbers challenged. Towering nearly 2,000 feet about Squamish, The Stawamus Chief is one of the largest granite monoliths in North America.  

Joffre Lake

The Joffre Lake hike offers a little bit of everything. The Joffre Lake hike offers a little bit of everything you could want in a day hike. At 10 km, the hike to Joffre Lakes is not too long, but with a steady uphill climb and several technical sections, it still offers a challenge. There are three turquoise, glacier-fed lakes, each more spectacular than the last. The lakes are aptly named Lower, Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes. Along the way, you are also rewarded with creek crossings, a waterfall, and several viewpoints of the surrounding mountain range. Finally, there’s the scenery at the top, an up-close view of the Matier Glacier and a rugged campsite for those wanting to spend the night. B.C. Parks has implemented a Day-Use Pass system for this park from June 23 – Oct 22, 2021. Visitors will need to reserve free day-use passes ahead of time.

For those not familiar with the Squamish Spit, it is a rock barrier, stretching out from the shore into Howe Sound, at almost 700m in length. Originally built in the 1970s as part of a coal mining project which never came to be, the Spit has since become an iconic landmark in the Sea to Sky corridor and has contributed to the lifestyle found here. In recent years, concerns surrounding the environmental impact of the Spit have come to the forefront.

Chinook salmon once used the passage through Howe Sound to the inland rivers and streams to spawn and grow. This path is currently disrupted by the presence of the Spit and forces the Chinook into danger. Many conservationists, marine biologists, and environmentalists are putting pressure on the Squamish government to aid in the removal of the Spit from Squamish. In a recent article from Pique, it was reported that the dismantling of 300m from the Spit is set to begin as early as October.  This effort is being led by the Squamish-River Watershed Society in partnership with the Squamish Nation and Fisheries & Oceans Canada.  This is being regarded as a necessary step to preserve the environment, especially as Squamish continues its massive growth and pushes housing further into the wilderness.

However, the Squamish wind sport community is less than enthusiastic about the proposed removal. Kitesurfing, which has become an increasingly popular activity in the Sea to Sky area, is dependent on the survival of the Spit. Currently, 1000 members belong to the Squamish wind sport community, and on average 80 tourists try kiteboarding in Squamish each weekend.  The Sea to Sky corridor is continuing to attract Many people specifically to take advantage of the world-class access to wind and water sports. If it is completely removed what will that mean for the community? 

Plans for realignment have been organized by local lobby groups and members of the Sea to Sky community. An anonymous private backer has donated to get plans created for a potential move of the Spit, featuring a multipurpose green space at the end. Despite these efforts, it seems that for the time being, the removal is the main focus. 

Windsport and tourism groups continue to implore local governments to consider the realignment of the spit in order to keep easy access for those looking to take advantage of the adventure. While they have been promised the naturally formed island at the end of the Spit will remain with access for wind sports, access will be by boat only.  Concerns and plans continue to be examined in order to protect the Chinook and all of the wildlife which calls Howe Sound home while satisfying the economic interests of the community. For more information, check out the articles linked  on the buttons below:

 

Just another thing Whistler has to offer is the amazing lakes right out your front door. I’ve listed a few below…

Alta Lake

The view is incredible here! Alta Lake is the biggest lake in Whistler and boasts three different beaches to hang out at. Lakeside is a short 10 minute bike ride, or a pleasant 30 minute walk from Whistler Village on the Valley Trail where you’ll find a sandy beach, picnic tables and barbeques, washrooms and a concession stand renting canoes and kayaks. The biggest, Rainbow Park, is located on the west side of Alta Lake, a pleasant 20 minute bike ride along the valley trail from both Whistler Village and Whistler Creekside and boosts: a concession stand renting canoes and kayaks, volleyball courts, picnic tables and barbeques, vending machine and lots of parking space. Wayside Park is accessible by the valley trail system and also by car, you’ll find a small beach, a dock, picnic tables and barbeques and a concession stand renting kayaks. 

Did you know?

In 1911 Whistler was know as Alta Lake and home to just a handful of trappers, prospectors and loggers.

Green Lake

Green Lake is the marvellously vivid, green coloured lake just north of Whistler Village. During the summer months, it is the perfect place to enjoy your water sports including paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing and boating. Not only is this lake perfect for your watersports but it’s also home to the landing spot of the Harbour Air float planes…so while your out on your paddleboard you can enjoy a waterfront viewing of the planes landing. 

Did you know?

You can actually paddle from Alta Lake to Green Lake via the River of Golden Dreams – another bucket-list item.

Lost Lake

Lost Lake is a small lake within walking distance of Whistler Village and is a popular attraction with a beach area and surrounding trails for hiking and biking. In the summer I recommend grabbing your bike or a rental for a lap of the Lost Lake Loop and then taking a dip off one of the docks to cool off. Cross-country skiing is part of Lost Lake’s DNA, there’s a fantastic network of XC trails. Trails are generally open for skiing from mid-December to mid-March, depending on weather conditions. 

Did you know?

Hidden away in the forest, Lost Lake gained its name because it can only be seen from the water’s edge and from the sky.

Alpha Lake

Alpha Lake Park is a beautiful little park on the shores of Alpha Lake in Creekside, just 5 kilometres south of Whistler Village.  This quiet residential street leads to this park that is home to tennis courts, a basketball court, a huge waterfront dog park, an elaborate kids play park, a floating dock, two piers and biking/walking/running trails everywhere you look.  These spots are always facing the sun and amazing on a sunny day. Lots of amenities here including a dog friendly park, a sandy beach, a kid’s playground, tennis and volleyball courts and public BBQ’s.

Did you know?

The wide and paved Valley Trail runs along the shore and a gravel trail runs along the far side.  The gravel trail, squeezed between the train tracks and the lake takes you to Pine Point Park, here the trails zig-zag through the forest to several hidden vantage points over the lake. 

Nita Lake

Nita Lake is a tranquil little lake located in Creekside, just 4 kilometres south of Whistler Village.  Whistler’s beautiful Valley Trail runs right along the edge of Nita Lake and continues past the beautiful Nita Lake Lodge.  A small gravel beach with a creek flowing through it gives the park consistently good fishing.  Two picnic tables sit in a forest clearing next to the creek.  At the end of the lake there are two piers.  One is a public pier and the other is for Nita Lake Lodge guests.

Did you know?

Looking for somewhere in the summer that isn’t as busy? Nita Lake is comparatively quiet as compared to other Whistler lakes and parks.