UPGRADING THE MOUNTAIN HIKING EXPERIENCE
Exploring Whistler Blackcomb’s Trails
It’s amazing how enjoyable a simple walk through the woods can be, let alone the experience of exploring the unique terrain found high in the mountains. With more than 50 kilometres of hiking trails on the two mountains, Whistler Blackcomb ( WB) invites guests of all abilities to immerse themselves in the wilderness.
A host of improvements and upgrades is planned for the alpine trail network in 2017. This summer, hikers will see widening and re-surfacing on WB’s most popular routes, and the mid-summer completion of Blackcomb’s Ascent Trails. On Whistler Mountain, trail users will get a peek at an exciting new project as construction begins on a suspension bridge and viewing platform that promises incredible views over the Whistler Valley.
In the Sea to Sky Corridor, uphill “fitness” trails are growing in popularity as hikers discover that grinding upwards provides a great workout, but riding down on a lift saves your body the rigours of descending steep terrain. Blackcomb’s Ascent Trails were planned for completion by mid-summer, leading hikers all the way from the valley floor to the alpine. Last summer, hikers could reach the top of the Wizard Chair via two lower trails called Little Burn and Big Burn. A new upper section named Heart Burn was set to open in early July, linking Big Burn right up to the Rendezvous Lodge.
In mapping these routes, WB officials made it a priority to ensure guests can enjoy an engaging wilderness experience. Once complete, Blackcomb’s Ascent Trails will wind through two old-growth forests, and feature informational displays to educate hikers about the local geology, flora and fauna.
“We did everything in our trail layout to give people the sense of being completely embedded in nature, and not near any ski area infrastructure,” says Arthur DeJong, WB’s mountain planning and environmental resource manager.
To further encourage fitness-minded hikers, WB is moving the timed hiking sections to three new checkpoints on the Ascent Trails — the entrance to Little Burn, the exit of Big Burn, and the exit of Heart Burn. Although it’ll only be a sneak peek this year, high atop Whistler Mountain, construction will begin on a suspension bridge and viewing platform overlooking Whistler Bowl.
“Your viewscape will be of the Whistler Valley, [looking south] out towards the Callaghan (and) Brandywine. And you’ll be able to look north towards Mount Currie. We’ve investigated our entire alpine and nothing fits like that location,” explains DeJong. “It’s on Whistler’s rooftop.”
“We did everything in our trail layout to give people the sense of being completely embedded in nature.”
The Peak Suspension Bridge will be roughly 130 metres (425 feet) long, and will stretch from the Peak Chair offload area to a viewing platform on the West Face peak. The bridge and platform are expected to be finished before snowfall, and ready for hikers to enjoy next summer.
While the simplicity of hiking is attractive to many outdoor enthusiasts, Whistler Blackcomb is enhancing the experience with ecological education, fitness challenges and breathtaking viewpoints. Whether you’re racing your friends up Blackcomb or casually strolling a short loop, Whistler is a beautiful place to “take a hike!”
For more information, visit whistlerblackcomb.com.
PHOTO W/B - ROBIN O’NEIL
PHOTO JOERN ROHDE
PHOTO W/B - MITCH WINTON