The 6 Best Hikes in Whistler, Canada

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6 Epic Whistler Hikes

Whistler, BC. A major Canadian tourist attraction, travelers flock to this stunning destination year-round to take advantage of its world-class ski hills, and to admire its pristine lakes, adorable town-center, towering mountains, and lush meadows. And what better way to marvel at Whistler’s enchanting scenery than through one of the many Whistler hikes?

Indeed, Whistler is a prominent traveler’s destination, especially for Vancouverites such as myself. Taking a weekend trip from Vancouver to Whistler is almost an annual tradition for me, as it offers so much, regardless of the season.

Cyclist in Whistler's summer

But today, we’re going to focus on what to do in Whistler in the summer. And there’s a lot of things to do in Whistler; you can peruse through the markets, jump into the many frigid lakes (it’s totally worth it even if you freeze your butt off), go cycling, or you can embark on one of my favorite pastimes – go hiking.

Whistler provides many incredible hiking trails of varying difficulties, and you can find some of the best hikes in British Columbia here. However, today we’re going to focus on a few select hikes. Hikes that are pretty difficult and will probably take you all day to climb, but will knock your socks off. Trust me, they will literally take your breath away.

Me walking along the hiking trail towards Iceberg Lake, Whistler

However, this also comes with a warning. Please, only attempt these hikes if you are confident that you’re fit, capable, and prepared enough. Hiking always comes with risks and dangers, and some of these Whistler hiking trails can be quite treacherous, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So, without further ado, here is my list of 6 unmissable, breathtaking, and epic Whistler hikes. Enjoy!

Also, please note in advance that all of these hikes are inaccessible by public transport, and therefore requires the use of a car. Okay, let’s begin!

Whistler Hikes #1: Iceberg Lake

Let’s start with one of my favorite Whistler hikes: Iceberg Lake.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate-Difficult
  • Distance: 15 km (9.3 miles)
  • Elevation Gain: 870 m (2854 ft)
  • Time: 7 hours round trip
  • When to Visit: July-September
Snowy peaks and forest by Iceberg Lake - One of the Best Whistler Hikes

As you can tell from the pictures, Iceberg Lake is stunning. On this hiking trail, you will trek through lush forests, alongside waterfalls, into meadows, up through boulder fields, until you reach an alpine lake before a vast glacier: one of the best Whistler lakes. And, at the summit, you’ll be rewarded with some outstanding views of the surrounding area, fully enjoying Whistler, BC, summer.

Mountain peak and glacier at Iceberg Lake, Whistler

However, there are a few things to note about this trail:

  1. There are occasional bear sightings. And, as a result, this BC trail is periodically closed. I would recommend reading up on reviews a day or two before embarking on this trail, to see if there is any recent bear activity.
Sign on Grizzly Bear Activity at Iceberg Lake in Whistler

Here are some bear safety tips: make noise on the trail (by talking, carrying a bear bell, etc.), carry bear spray, and hike in groups. For more information on bear safety, click here.

  1. It can get quite cold at the summit. I went in September (near the end of the season), and I was freezing at the top; there was a lot of snow, a lot of ice, and worse of all, there was a lot of wind. I recommend bringing a hot drink, and to carry some extra clothes for layering if necessary.
  1. There is limited parking at the trail head. So, I recommend leaving early, to snag a spot before they all disappear!
  2. This hiking path can be confusing to follow, as it intersects with various other trails. If you plan on doing this hike, I recommend printing out this Vancouver Trails article for in-depth directions, to stay on the right path!
  3. Also note that there is no public transport that gets you to the trail head, and no camping is allowed… but it is dog friendly!
My dog on a glacier at Iceberg Lake
  1. Finally, don’t forget to pace yourself! Hiking in Whistler can be quite strenuous, so drink lots of water, and don’t push yourself too hard.

The Hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park

The next four hiking trails on this list (hikes #2 to #5) are all within the confines of Garibaldi Provincial Park. With some of the best trails in BC, this park is completely breathtaking, and these hikes are the perfect way to admire its spectacular scenery.

Furthermore, on this list, hikes #2 to #4 all conveniently start off on the same trail. In other words, hike #5 (Wedgemount Lake) is the only hike without the same launching point.

Now, let’s begin!

A view from the ocean of the lighthouse at Lighthouse Park, Vancouver, surrounded by mountains

Want to learn more about the great hikes around Vancouver? Click here for the best Vancouver hikes! Or if you want to explore more of BC, click here for the best hikes surrounding Vancouver!

Whistler Hikes #2: Panorama Ridge

One of the most beautiful hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park, and one of the best hikes in Whistler, Panorama Ridge offers spectacular 360 degree views (one might say, panoramic views) of Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk, and Helm Lake.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 30 km (18.6 miles)
  • Elevation Gain: 1520 m (4987 ft)
  • Time: 11 hours round trip
  • When to Visit: July-October

While you can camp overnight (with a permit), this hike is definitely doable in a day. However, it is a very long, very tiring, and very sweaty day. You’ll also have to start this hike pretty early, to give yourself plenty of time to get back to your car by nightfall. Heed my words, this is not one of the easy Whistler hikes.

The view of the snow-capped mountains and lake from Panorama Ridge
Views from Panorama Ridge

The hike for Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk, and Garibaldi Lake (hikes #2-#4) all start the same way: with a series of switchbacks through a dense forest. This first part is pretty boring, where you simply walk up and up and up.

However, after about 6 km, you will reach a junction. Here, you will veer left towards Taylor Meadows, an incredible sight to behold in late summer. Filled with enchanting alpine flowers, you will meander past small streams; a great place to replenish your water supply! But, remember to stay on the path, to preserve this ecologically-sensitive environment.

Then, you will enter into forests filled with Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees. This is where I stumbled across a serene black bear foraging for berries, so be wary! Click here to learn more about bear safety.

Eventually, the terrain will get steeper and more precarious, as you will have to climb up loose rocks. This part can get a bit strenuous, so be careful!

View of Garibaldi Lake from Panorama Ridge, one of the coolest Whistler hikes
Garibaldi Lake from Panorama Ridge

Finally, you’ll reach the summit. With fantastic, panoramic views of Mount Price, Mount Garibaldi, Black Tusk, and Garibaldi Lake, you’ll barely stop yourself from twirling in circles, admiring the view from every angle.

This is a great place to rest, eat some lunch, and take tons of pictures, before making the arduous trek back down (I know my legs were mega sore).

For more information on this fabulous hike, refer to this Vancouver Trails article.

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Whistler Hikes #3: Black Tusk

Next, let’s talk about an equally difficult hike: Black Tusk. One of the best Whistler hikes, the peak is the eroded remnant of an ancient volcano. Needless to say, this exceptional hike is absolutely captivating.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 29 km (18 miles)
  • Elevation Gain: 1740 m (5709 ft)
  • Time: 11 hours round trip
  • When to Visit: July-October

Again, this hike can be accomplished in a day, but it will be a very long day. However, no matter how exhausted you will feel, you won’t regret this climb. With its unique, dark jagged peak, Black Tusk will take your breath away.

The dirt path leading to Garibaldi
The path to Black Tusk

The trail starts the same as Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake: with 6 km of switchbacks. After you reach the first junction, you’ll once again veer left into Taylor Meadows, filled with enchanting alpine flowers.

You’ll continue on this trail, ambling over streams. A few minutes past Outhouse Junction, you’ll find a sign directing you up towards Black Tusk. As you continue on this path, the trees and vegetation will dwindle, eventually turning into a precarious uphill trek on rocky terrain.

This will be the most dangerous section of the trail, as you will scramble up loose shales and rocks. You’ll have to be very mindful of other hikers, both above and below you. The climb down will be even harder, so be careful!

View of one of the best Whistler hikes - Black Tusk
A view of Black Tusk

However, it will all be worth it at the top. With spectacular views of the surrounding mountain range and emerald lakes, you’ll fully comprehend why hiking in British Columbia is so popular. With an ancient volcanic tusk at your back, you won’t want to climb back down.

While some climbers also ascend the tusk, it is discouraged by BC Parks, and it is only (somewhat) safe if you have the proper training and equipment.

For more information on one of the most phenomenal hikes near Whistler, refer to this Vancouver Trails article.

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Whistler Hikes #4: Garibaldi Lake

Next, let’s talk about the easiest (yet still laborious) Garibaldi trail: Garibaldi Lake Hike.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Distance: 18 km (11.2 miles)
  • Elevation Gain: 820 m (2690 ft)
  • Time: 5-6 hours round trip
  • When to Visit: June-October

An easier trek than Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk, Garibaldi Lake is a gorgeous turquoise lake surrounded by soaring alpine mountains and lush forests. With a vast glacier as a backdrop, Garibaldi is a popular destination, and one of the best hikes near Whistler.

The deep blue water of Garibaldi Lake

Starting off on the same trail as Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk, the first 6 km of the hike is an uphill climb on a dirt trail. At the first junction, you can either follow the signs to Garibaldi Lake, or you can add a few kilometers to your hike by wandering through Taylor Meadows.

It is fairly easy to find your way to Garibaldi Lake, following the signs. Once there, it is impossible not to admire the dazzling, glacier-fed lake. While the water is cold, it is a great place to relax and eat lunch. Indeed, it is one of the best hikes around Whistler.

If possible, I definitely recommend camping. That way, you can complete all three hikes in one excursion: Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk, and Garibaldi Lake. With all three BC trails close together, it will be an incredible few days!

Views of mountain at Garibaldi Provincial Park
The views in Garibaldi Provincial Park

There are two possible campsites you can stay in: one in Garibaldi Lake, and one in Taylor Meadows. You will need to make reservations and payments in advance. For more information on camping in Garibaldi, click here.

Whistler Hikes #5: Wedgemount Lake

Now, let’s talk about a crowd-favorite Whistler hiking trail: Wedgemount Lake. With striking alpine scenery and ice caves, this is one of the most popular and best hikes in British Columbia.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 12 km (7.5 miles)
  • Elevation Gain: 1160 m (3806 ft)
  • Time: 7 hours round trip
  • When to Visit: July-September

This is definitely one of the more difficult Whistler hikes, especially if you complete the entire hike in a day. This is due to the amount of elevation you gain within a short distance. So, you should only attempt this hike if you are confident about your fitness ability, and are well-prepared.

View of the mountains and Wedgemount Lake

While this hiking trail does have a lot of roots and rocks, it is overall well-maintained and well-marked. During this hike, you will trek by streams and creeks (a good place to refill your water bottles), and can catch glimpses of Rethel Mountain and Wedgemount Waterfall through the trees.

The last section is a difficult, steep scramble up some rocks. The climb down will be just as difficult, so be careful!

At the summit, you’ll understand why Wedgemount is one of the best BC hikes. With the phenomenal turquoise Wedgemount Lake preceding a vast (but receding) glacier, it will take your breath away.

The vast glacier and icy Wedgemount Lake, Whistler

I recommend spending some time relaxing by the lake, replenishing your energy, and admiring the views of the surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks. Then, I suggest exploring the ice caves. A totally extraordinary experience, it is one of the perks of hiking Whistler.

Because of the difficulty of this hike, and the amount of additional spectacular sights within close range, I recommend camping overnight. This will, however, require a permit. Check out the BC parks website for more information.

Views of mountains and the blue Wedgemount Lake

Finally, remember to brings lots of water, lots of energy bars, and an extra jacket to wear at the top. Even on the hottest summer day, it’s going to be cold at the summit. Prepare well for your excursion, and be safe!

For more information, refer to this Vancouver Trails article.

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Whistler Hikes #6: Joffre Lakes

Finally, let’s talk about Joffre Lakes. A stunning hiking trail boasting three gorgeous lakes (Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lake), this hike is the perfect day trip from Whistler, and one of the best British Columbia hiking experiences.

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Distance: 10 km (6.2 miles)
  • Elevation Gain: 370 m (1214 ft)
  • Time: 4-5 hours round trip
  • When to Visit: June-September
A view of Upper Joffre Lake and a glacier on one of the best Whistler Hikes

As you can tell, this hike offers incredible views. Trekking by three spectacular, glacier-fed lakes of the most vibrant turquoise color, you will also be granted with views of rumbling creeks, a waterfall, a vast glacier, and towering alpine mountains.

Starting at the trail head, you will reach the first lake within minutes. Unlike many other hikes in Whistler, you will be rewarded with magnificent, picturesque views right away! On a sunny day, you may even be able to see the Matier glacier, perched high above in the distance.

A view of the beautiful Lower Joffre Lake

The trek towards Middle Joffre Lakes requires more energy, as it has the most elevation change. Climbing through forests and boulder fields, the trail remains well-maintained, albeit steep.

But, it will be worth it once you reach Middle Joffre Lake. Vivid turquoise water with the Matier Glacier visible above, it is a great place to rest, knowing the summit is not far away.

While the last part of the trail is more technical, with lots of roots and rocks, the view at the peak is worthwhile, providing splendid, intimate views of the glacier. This is truly one of the best Whistler trails.

The vast Matier Glacier by Upper Joffre Lakes, Whistler
The colossal Matier Glacier.

If possible, a wonderful addition to this excursion would be to camp overnight. With around 26 camping sites next to Upper Joffre Lake, you’ll sleep with the Matier Glacier shadowing over you. But, you will need a permit. Click here to make your reservation!

In conclusion,

With so many stunning Whistler hikes, it is hard to decide which ones to climb. I hope this list gave you insight on which epic, adventurous, and breathtaking hikes to do!

And, even if you don’t plan to visit Whistler, all of these hikes are a day trip from Vancouver. So, I hope you use this list as a guide for the best hikes near Vancouver as well! And if you want to learn more about the hikes within Vancouver, click here.

Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.



Photos by the author and Pixabay.

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