The Locals Guide to a Summer in Whistler
June 20, 2019
by Kate Boddington
So you’re going to Whistler for the summer? Are you wanting the best Whistler experience? This Whistler Summer Guide reveals locals knowledge on Whistlers hidden gems during summer while sticking to that budget.
What is Whistler
Whistler is, in fact, one of the top mountain resort destinations worldwide. Whistler is the nickname for its full name: Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler and Blackcomb are the names of the two mountains which the mountain resort operates on. The mountains are located two hours north of the city of Vancouver, Canada. Whistler attracts an average of 3 million overnight visitors every year, and is a seasonal working destination, with over 2000 staff living in temporary accommodation for the winter and summer seasons. The majority of the locals in Whistler are in their 20’s or 30’s, making it a popular party destination for many backpackers and travelers to visit.
Whistler Peak Chair in Summer
When to go to Whistler in Summer?
Whistler is an all-season destination, famously for attracting a huge community of ski bums to its slopes through the winter. More recently, Whistler has also become a very popular summer destination. During the summer, it now operates as a mountain bike resort and runs many day tours including zip lining, ATV tours, white water rafting, fishing, and many more. The mountains officially close in April or May each year depending on how fast the snow melts. Once the skiing stops, the biking begins! If you visit Whistler in early summer, the overall temperatures will still be cooler and the snow still defrosting. If you are visiting in late summer, you can lie by the edge of the lake all day and enjoy some warm sun rays. Whistler is also home to about 60 black bears who wake up from hibernation in spring and can be seen foraging on the mountain all summer. Black bears are not as dangerous as grizzlies but are still to be respected and avoided.
Hiking Wedgemount Lake near Whistler
What to do in Whistler in Summer?
Whistler is a paradise for any outdoor lovers. There are endless hiking trails to explore, lakes to walk around, hidden waterfalls and more. This locals guide will help you to find the best of them and make the most of your summer in Whistler. Whether you are traveling with a pocket full of cash, or a pocket full of pennies you’ve picked up, there is an activity in Whistler for you.
Standing on a snow wall at Whistler Peak
Guide to the 5 lakes in Whistler
During the summer in Whistler, the 5 valley lakes defrost and become popular swim spots. The most popular places to swim are the many parks scattered around the lakes. Of all 5 lakes, Lost Lake is the smallest and by far the warmest as it warms faster than the larger lakes. Green Lake is the coldest, it is directly fed by a glacial river that runs between Whistler and Blackcomb, hence the name because of the glacial watercolor. Alta Lake is also a popular spot for people wanting to spend the day relaxing by the water’s edge. The parks along Alta are often packed, especially on weekends, so make sure to get there early to get yourself a good spot.
Guide to Hiking on Whistler Mountain
The most common thing for tourists to do when visiting Whistler is to go up the mountain. During Winter and Summer, you can go up the mountain just to explore without taking part in any tours. You do need to pay for a sightseeing pass in order to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain. In the early summer, you can hike up to the peak of Whistler following a road cut between 5 meter high walls of snow. By late summer most of the snow has melted, although there are many hiking trails to follow and explore. You can hike around the back of Whistler to view the blue colored Cheakamus Lake. While up the mountain, you can also see many of the wild alpine flowers that grow here, including one called “hippie on a stick”. If you are hiking on a sunny or overcast day, make sure to layer on that sun cream! You burn much faster in the alpine than down in the village.
Hiking through alpine meadows
Guide to Hiking Wedgemount Lake
One of the most stunning free hikes is to Wedgemount Lake. The trailhead is just outside of Whistler to the north, and the hike takes about 4 hours up and 3 to get back down. Although this seems like a ridiculously long time to hike, it is so worth the views once you reach the lake. The hike starts off winding through temperate rainforest, ventures through scree slopes, up into alpine meadows, and finally into the valley where the lake sits. In the early summer, the lake still has ice floating on top, but by late summer the only thing still icy is the swim! Wedgemount has wooden platforms for campers, a surreal place to spend a night and wake up facing a glacial lake. The Wedgemount Glacier itself is about 30 minutes further than the lake. You can walk all the way up to it and stand on the floating ice chunks at the base of the glacier. If you’re feeling wild and needing a cool off, a short 10-second dip in this lake will make your entire body scream. Wedgemount is easily the most beautiful experience while spending a summer in Whistler, and one that is worth braving a long uphill hike.
Guide to Parkhurst Ghost Town
Parkhurst Ghost Town is located along the banks of Green Lake in Whistler. Getting to the ghost town is very difficult. as there aren’t any simple trails to follow. Easy to do when you’ve got a group of friends, a backpack full of snacks and a whole day to explore the woods. To find the Ghost Town, it is quickest to come from the north of Green Lake and follow the train track for a while before entering the forest to look for the old town.
Parkhurst Ghost Town Whistler
Guide for Whistler Train Wreck
Unlike the Parkhurst Ghost Town, the Whistler Train Wreck is very easy to find. The trailhead is in Creekside in Whistler and it is a short hike to get to the site of the old wreck. The train had derailed from the nearby tracks and has since been turned into a bike park of sorts. All the rusted carriages have been spray painted with different art designs. You can still climb on top of some of the carriages, where people have built bike ramps and drops between the pieces of the wreck. The wreck is located across a suspension bridge over a gushing river. Most visitors will walk the 20 minutes to the train wreck before returning back to their cars. Lucky for you, this is a locals guide. If you continue up the river, you will find a secret waterfall that the public doesn’t know about. The river is beautiful to walk along and explore the many bike trails around it, and the secret waterfall is the cherry on top of a train wreck adventure.
Hidden waterfall in Whistler
Why visit Whistler in Summer?
Now, this is just a guide to a handful of the best experiences in Whistler over summer. Whistler is one of the top destinations to visit in Canada and one of the top ski destinations in the whole world. Imagine how much more there is to explore on top of this! Overall, Whistler is awesome to get a taste of the ski bum community and experience mountain life first hand. You can plan to come to Whistler for summer, but I guarantee that by the end of summer, you’ll be wanting to stay longer.