Over the July long weekend, Kyle and I headed up to Whistler for some biking, hiking and exploring! We were completely blown away by how extensive and beautiful Whistler was, compared to the small glimpses we had before while spending most of our time in the village. Whistler is home to numerous lakes, full of beach goers on a warm day, extensive trail networks for biking, walking, and hiking (not including heading up the mountain), and plenty of photo stops to capture the various mountain ranges in the background.
If you are looking for a weekend trip that is:
- Family friendly
- Cost effective (we spent $270 on food, gas, and lodging, the spa was extra though!)
- Physically pretty easy (doesn’t involve major extensive hikes), as long as you are generally active you will enjoy this trip.
- A perfect mix of roughing it, and luxury (spa day!)
Then this trip might be for you.
Our itinerary included:
- One day spent biking the Whistler Valley Trail
- One walk to Lost Lake for a picnic dinner
- Short hike to the Whistler Train Wreck.
- Hike from One Mile Lake to Nairn Falls.
- Day a the Spa Scandinave.
- 3 nights spent ‘free’ camping.
Day #1: Drive from Vancouver to Whistler.
We were hesitant about making this drive on a long weekend, but luckily ran in to virtually no stalled traffic. The roads were heavy with cars, but we still made it in 2.5 hours to Whistler! There are numerous paid campgrounds located in and around the Whistler area, everything from tent sites, to RV sites, to sleeping in yurts! It’s much more of an affordable option then spending 100-300 a night on a hotel in Whistler. We choose to go with the free option, because we have a self contained unit. We often park on logging roads, and forest service roads, and find free campsites online. We set up shop, pulled out our propane campfire, and enjoyed the evening.
Day #2: Bike 30-40 km on the Whistler Valley Trail.
The Whistler valley trail is a relatively flat, mostly paved and hard packed gravel trail that connects Whistler Village to many of the surrounding lakes in the area. You can take a look at this map that I used from the official Whistler website for an idea of how extensive the trail networks are: whistler-hiking-biking-map. The Website also lists shorter treks you can take on the trail, if you aren’t interested in doing the whole loop like we did. If you are interested in seeing the exact route we took, check out the red markings I have made on the map here: bike route marked (the drawn in red markings is our route).
The trail is off the main roads for the most part, so you don’t have to worry about cars and traffic.
Before we started the trail we headed into Whistler, grabbed a Starbucks and took in the sights and set up for the Canada celebrations. Everyone was decked out in their red and white to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday!
We started the bike ride from the main day parking lots (there are 5 huge lots located in the middle of the village- $5 a day for parking in lot 4). Heading out the back of lot 5 we connected onto the trail and started the trek on the lost lake path. From here you follow along lost lake before diverting to the left, rather than continuing around the whole lake. Following the trail a little further we made our first photo stop- Green Lake.
After Green Lake we rode along, while taking a few more pictures, until we came to a great snack stop at Meadow Park. It was such a beautiful setting with families flying kites, dogs running around and jumping into the river, and people paddling their canoes down the river.
Coming into Meadow Park:
Beyond Meadow Park we followed the trail for about 10 minutes of quick riding before coming upon some beautiful ‘wildlife viewing platforms’, which made for some good photo taking.
Soon after we reached Rainbow Park, the first major beach area that we had come across on the bike ride. It was loaded with families having picnics, and young adults blowing up their rafts and mattresses, piling on the cases of beer and chips, and getting ready for a river float. This was a great stop for lunch, AND there was even a man selling Gelato- what a find 🙂
Past rainbow park you head uphill for a bit, before turning left and riding on the road for a short period of time before connecting with the trail again. From there you ride along and circle around 2 of Whistler’s smaller surrounding lakes: Nita Lake and Alpha lake. Both of these lakes were also filled with people sunbathing, and enjoying a day off work for Canada day. To finish off the ride we circled the lakes, and rode back to the vehicles and grabbed our dinner gear to head down to Lost Lake for a picnic. Make sure you have some energy left, because it’s about a 30 minute walk from the parking lot to the lake. It was well worth it though, to cook a delicious Indian dinner and enjoy the views.
We topped off our night by watching a free outdoor public concert put on by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, a special performance by Canada Day.
Day #3: Whistler Train Wreck Hike and Spa Scandinave
The Whistler Train Wreck hike is a short, easy hike, perfect for all fitness levels, and especially kids. The train derailed in 1953 and the train cars were never removed from the forest. As a result people have come down and painted art and graffiti on the cars. For full details on how to get to the hike, check out the trail description HERE . The trail is short, maybe a 30 minute walk from the vehicle, but involves a beautiful crossing over a raging river on a suspensions bridge, as well as you get to check out the 7 art covered train cars (2 are hidden a little further down).
Now for the best part of the trip! We spent the rest of the day at the Spa Scandinave! For $70 you can spend as many hours as you like following their hydrotherapy circuit, this means spending 15 minutes in a hot environment (sauna, steam room, hot tub), followed by 10-30 seconds in a cold pool, followed by 15 minutes of relaxation in front of one of their fireplaces, in a hammock, on one of the beds indoors, or on a comfortable reclining bed/chair. The place is completely silent, and is heavenly. I began to feel every little cell in my body relax as we enjoyed our day here. It is well worth the $70. For more details on the spa, check out their website here: Website.
Day # 4: Hiking from One Mile Lake to Nairn Falls and back.
Our 3rd night we had spent camping north of Pemberton on a friends piece of land. We enjoyed the morning with them, and only had a few hours to do a hike on our way back. With so many beautiful hikes around Pemberton, we ended up choosing one just off the highway for convenience. We pulled over at one mile lake- which is the lake just outside of Pemberton on the Sea to Sky highway. From here you can follow the trail network all the way to the Nairn Falls campground, and then complete the 1.5 km from the campground to the Falls. The whole trek was about 8 km’s total. You get some good undulation with the trail, but nothing too strenuous. The trail is very well marked from the lake, simply follow the signs for the Nairn Falls Connector. Alternatively, you could also add a 1 mile walk around the “One Mile Lake”, which we chose to forgo and take a dip instead!
And that was the end of our weekend! We made our way home, stopping along the way to take a few more photos of the mountains (which I can’t get enough of).
I hope this blog was helpful to spark some ideas for you for a short, active, enjoyable, and relaxing weekend up in Whistler.
Get outdoors, and explore 🙂