WHISTLER — A TRAIL RUNNER’S PLAYGROUND
Kevin Titus has pretty much done it all in the running world — both on the road and on Whistler’s famous network of recreational trails. Titus, a school teacher who has lived in the resort for 33 years, has finished at or near the front in a host of road races and has a personal best of a blistering 2 hours, 19 minutes, 32 seconds in the marathon (That’s a pace of 5:19 per mile over 26.2 miles.). He’s also won the gruelling 50-kilometre (30-mile) Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run twice, and came in first in Whistler’s 24-km Comfortably Numb trail race — a race he co-founded a few years earlier — in 2011, at age 54. Titus and other trail lovers owe a big debt of gratitude to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and to the local mountain biking community for the abundance of riches that is Whistler’s trail network. Talented trail builders — mostly working under the umbrella of the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association ( WORCA) with the blessing of the RMOW and the cooperation of private landowners — have fashioned a network mostly with two-wheeled travel in mind, but also a tremendous resource to those seeking fitness and solitude on two feet. “It’s a main reason for living here in the summer, spring and fall,” Titus said of the hundreds of kilometres of trails in and around Whistler. “There’s just such a great variety of trails, and certainly WORCA has been instrumental in building and maintaining them.”
With recent upgrades to the trails of Rainbow Lake, Sproatt Mountain and Train Wreck, runners and bikers have an expanded playground to explore. With so many trails to choose from, any list of local running “favourites” is purely subjective — when asked to comment on this writer’s list, Titus offered a few of his own. Trail runners, of course, come in all shapes and abilities, as one’s pleasant experience might be another’s gruelling nightmare. Here’s a brief list of trails, broken down into Nice (easy), Nasty (intermediate) and Gnarly (more difficult).
• Valley Trail — No matter where you are in the resort, you are probably not far from a segment of the 40-kilometrelong, mostly paved Valley Trail. It links Whistler Village and Creekside with lakes, parks and neighbourhoods and is used by those commuting to work as well as those out for a pleasant walk. Wayfinding signs make it easy to head out for a run and find your way back.
• Lost Lake Trails — Not far from the Village, the trails in Lost Lake Park encompass both doubletrack paths (Panorama and Centennial) and singletrack (Tin Pants, Molly Hogan and Old Mill Road). For a slightly hilly singletrack running experience almost devoid of rocks and roots, start at the PassivHaus near Whistler Village and head up the wide path toward Lost Lake. Look left for the sign to Tin Pants, a twisty, up-and-down and nicely gravelled path that leads to other, similar trails.
• A River Runs Through It — One of the signature Whistler singletrack trails, it has been upgraded several times over the years. The elevation gain is minimal but includes enough twists, turns, planks, logs and bridges to keep your interest. Most people start the 4.3-kilometre, out-and-back trail from Rainbow Park. Allow 30 to 40 minutes in each direction, or you can loop back via Alta Lake Road or Bob’s Rebob/ Whip Me Snip Me on the north side of the road. • High Note — For a run or hike with amazing alpine vistas, it is hard to beat this one. Purchase a ticket for the Whistler Village Gondola, then take the Peak Chair to the summit for the start of the 9.5-kilometre route that loops back to the Roundhouse Lodge. “High Note is nice because you’re starting and finishing in the alpine; so it’s beautiful, for sure,” Titus said. Before you go, be sure to find out whether the trail is snow-free and bring sunscreen and an extra layer along as it can be chilly even on sunny days. You’ll have to pick your way down a few switchbacks near the start, but there are some great run-able sections and incredible views of Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk.
“There’s just such a great variety of trails, and certainly WORCA has been instrumental in building and maintaining them.”