Your Guide to the Whistler Alpine
What is the Alpine?
The Alpine is a high mountainous region that exists above the treeline. The area is susceptible to harsh climates, steep topography and high altitudes. This makes the alpine a very unique area with interesting geological features, colourful flowers and stunning views. During the summer, however, the weather is very inviting and the Whistler alpine attracts hikers and sightseers.
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are made up of predominantly andesite and dacite. These are igneous rocks that formed from lava flows. There’s also a lot of shale present here. This rock was once mud that made up the seafloor.
How to access the Alpine?
Access to the alpine for sightseers is via the Whistler Village Gondola and Blackcomb Gondola. Unfortunately, during the summer, the Creekside Gondola is for bike park access only. The gondola runs from 9.30am until 5 pm during the height of summer. Opening hours change throughout the year, so make sure you check out the opening times before setting off!
Hiking Trails in the Alpine
There are alpine hiking trails both on Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. There are over 50km of trails that take in a range of trail options. Hiking trails work in a similar way to ski or bike trails. Green trails are the easiest, these hiking trails have a relatively smooth surface and the gradient never gets too steep. The gradient on blue trails is more aggressive than green trails which makes the ascents and descents a tad trickier but these trails are still suitable for most hikers. The most difficult trails are the back trails. These trails have a looser footing and can be quite steep. They’re also long so appropriate hiking gear and rations must be brought.
The Cloudraker Skybridge is located on Whistler Mountain. It is a 130m long suspension bridge that connects Whistler Peak and Whistler Bowl and hands over Whistler Bowl. At the end of the bridge is Raven’s Eye, a lookout point that takes in 360-degree views of the area.
Plants in the Alpine
One of the main draws to the alpine is the alpine meadows. These high altitude zones are home to some beautiful, colourful alpine flowers. They create stunning scenes and make for some beautiful photos!
White Mountain Heather
This alpine flower has trickled it’s way down to us in Whistler from more northern regions like the Arctic and its native Northern Norway. The white petals contrast the gray rocks of the alpine beautifully and compliment the remaining snow. The white mountain heather can grow up to 20cm high.
If you’re hiking out on Harmony Meadows Trail keep your eyes peeled for some alpine fireweed. This pink flower can be found throughout this trail as well as a number of other ones in the alpine. This bright flower ranges in size from a tiny 5cm high up to a towering 3 meters!
Mountain Monkey Flower
There are a number of lakes high in the alpine. If you find yourself hiking near the water see if you can find a mountain monkey flower, You’ll notice this small yellow flower around Harmony Lake Trail and Loop.
Indian paintbrush can be found throughout the alpine, particularly on Harmony Lake Trail on Whistler and Lakeside Loop on Blackcomb. This flower has lots of bright red-pink petals, grows up to 60cm high and can live to be 20 years old!
On Mountain Dining
As soon as you step off Whistler Village Gondola you’ll see Roundhouse Lodge. It’s the largest restaurant in Whistler and you’ll find a wide range of food here from all over the world. It’s a great place to stop off on your way back from an alpine hike.
This recently renovated restaurant is the place to eat on Blackcomb Mountain. There are numerous food counters that cook everything from burgers to nachos to soup. The large dining area has informal seating and great views of the mountains. It’s also handily located beside the Peak 2 Peak Gondola that will zip you back over to Whistler Mountain after your alpine hike.