If you’re headed to Whistler there is plenty to keep your day filled, besides skiing or snowboarding! I have visited three times and have still only seen the tip of the iceberg (pun?)
On the Way There...
First stop is the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. You will pass this destination on your journey from Vancouver airport to Whistler, along highway 99. If it’s a sunny day, I recommend taking the gondola to the top, where there's a tubing park, hiking trails, and a nail-biting suspension bridge. You don’t need any intense gear for the hike (unless the snow is deep) -- just your regular snow boots and camera will do the trick.
Skiing in Whistler:
Of course, the star of the show in Whistler are the snow activities, mainly skiing and snowboarding. Here are a few important points/recommendations:
- Whistler offers TWO mountains for skiing: Whistler and Blackcomb. Whistler is located at the top of Whistler Village, and Blackcomb is located by the Fairmont Chateau. They are connected by the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Your ski pass will grant you access to both mountains.
- There are green, blue and black trails on both mountains. If you’re a beginner, you are not shunned to the lower part of the mountain, where it's more icy. Some of the most beautiful trails (in my opinion) are the green ones that start about 2/3 up, and slowly meander down through the trees. My favorite was Sunset Boulevard. If you prefer something more challenging, check out: Rock N Roll, Overbite, and Lakeside Bowl.
- There are plenty of dining options on both mountains.
Before heading to the top on a questionable weather day, check out the summit webcam here. Oftentimes, the weather at the top of the mountain is sunnier than what you may experience below.
My Favorite Hike:
If you need a day off from skiing, I suggest going for a hike. My favorite trail was Trainwreck Trail.
- It was do-able for all types of hikers.
- It was a relatively quick hike (about 30 minutes each way).
- It had a "wow" factor: finding the abandoned trains, against the backdrop of a winter forest clearing, was quite the sight!
- Allow for some time to eat a snack, take pictures, and just enjoy the unique view
You'll find Trainwreck Trail about 15 min south of downtown Whistler. In the 1950’s a train went off the tracks and sadly crashed into the woods (no casualties, thankfully). The wreckage was abandoned, and blossoming graffiti artists have since made the cars into their very own art easels. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love finding cool graffiti art. My obsession started when I first saw the John Lennon Wall in Prague. This scene is particularly beautiful, because of the juxtaposition of bright, neon colors in the middle of a natural winter backdrop.
However, it was tricky to find, so here’s what to know (coming from Whistler):
- Take route 99 towards Vancouver
- Make a left onto Cheakamus Lake Road
- Turn right onto Jane Lakes Road (you will see Whistler Olympic Village)
- Drive about a quarter mile down this road, until you see a small parking area to the left. In the winter this lot may not even be visible, but it is there! There are small signs that indicate parking for Trainwreck Trial
- When you leave the lot to start hiking, turn RIGHT. The trail starts back down the road next to the sign that says “sea to sky trail.” We accidentally walked across the lot to the left and this was a no-go.
When you’re on the trail, you will eventually come to a fork in the road. The trail was not marked, so we opted for the right. This route took us closer to the river (which was beautiful), but was steeper and icier. It was a bit precarious and we spent a lot of time on our butts sliding down the trail. Only later did we realize that the left hand trail would’ve also brought us to the trains, and would’ve been a less icy option. I don’t think this is an issue in warmer months, but it’s something to know if you trek to the trains during winter. Also, I’d give yourself some time to just take it all in once you reach the trains. It’s a fun photography spot, or just a relaxing place to sit and each a sandwich or snack.
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