After a long winter's rest and a drawn out cold spring, Whistler's trails
have finally started to open en masse, much to the pleasure of both locals and visitors alike. Much of the network is now open, save for the high elevation trails, and trail crews from the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (W.O.R.C.A) have been out clearing trails and repairing winter's damage, while other private groups have been buffing and tweaking the trails they maintain. This year will also mark the opening of Whistler's much anticipated Sproatt alpine trail network which has been nearly five years in the planning and building process, and the town can't wait to share this amazing new trail experience with everyone.Whistler's broad valley trail network
provides many different options for riders looking to experience the diversity of trails on offer. While Whistler has traditionally been known as a tech riders playground, trail development over the past years has had a focus on filling in gaps in the network and diversifying it to provide more intermediate trail options for a wider range of users.
At the south end of town, the Cheakamus area provides great options for all levels of riders, and with the Interpretive Forest trailhead directly adjacent to Function Junction and Highway 99 the staging is perfect for out of town riders who want to avoid the village. From mellow green trails like the Sea to Sky Trail and Farside, to technical classics like Trash, or fun flowy trails like High Side and AMPM, this area has many options for different groups of riders. The ride out to Singing Creek on the Cheakamus Lake trail is also a highlight.
Function Junction also has bike shops, breweries, cafes, bakeries, and restaurants to refuel after your ride. WORCA is working with partners and other stakeholders on further trail development plans in this area over the coming years, including connecting Farside to Cheakamus Lake trail, and connections up to the Jane Lakes network, which is being brought back to standard. A great short loop for the time restricted is riding up Farside, Far Out, then combining High Side, Hi Hi, and It's Business Time into AMPM. At 10km it's a relatively short quick ride but full of fun!
While the south end may lean towards more flowy and fast trails, the north end veers towards the other end of the spectrum—tech, and more tech. The No Flow Zone in Emerald is currently only accessible through the Rainbow/Baxter Creek subdivision on Delineator or Shit Happens, the entrance to No Girlie Man is also a good choice. The old water reservoir access road is private property and closed, so please respect the property owner and choose another entrance into this area. Comfortably Numb is the quintessential technical xc slog in town and will continue to see more maintenance this year from the Al Grey bridge through towards the Golden Door. If you park at the Wedge lot, there are many options abound, including Out There, or Kill Me Thrill Me. My personal favourite is climbing Yummy Nummy, taking a right onto Comfortably Numb, a right through the Golden Door, and then riding to Jeff's Trail and back to the village via the Sea to Sky trail.
The west side definitely continues to be the main focus of Whistler riding and it's where you'll find most of the steeper and more technical trails, but it's also where Whistler has focused on broadening the network and providing some key Intermediate trails and connections that will help the system flow better and provide more choices for rides. The Rainbow side of things in the Alpine Meadows area hasn't seen too much new development at this point but continues to see regular maintenance and tweaking by builders. This area is great for wet weather riding as it's a bit rockier than other places. Grind up the Flank to Screaming Cat Lake before turning around and ripping Howler back to the valley for a brake searing descent!
The Sproatt area on the west side is where riders will find most of Whistler's new trail development activity, and it's where W.O.R.C.A completed their first two officially authorized new trails last year. A Cut Above is an uphill primary connector from Whip Me Snip Me that heads back into Stonebridge and the top of Beaver Pass. It starts right at the bottom of Wizard Burial Ground and while steep and grindy, is a beautifully built trail through cool, bluffy and moss covered terrain. W.O.R.C.A's great partners at Stonebridge Developments are also building a singletrack climbing extension of Hot Dog Alley adjacent to Scotia Creek to avoid the steep road slog. Eventually, W.O.R.C.A is hoping to complete a climbing trail from the Beaver Pond area up to the Flank at the top of High Society to provide a connected and road free route from Rainbow Park, right up into the new Sproatt alpine network.
Which brings me to the big news, the completion of Whistler's new climbing and descending routes on Mount Sproatt. Over the past five years, W.O.R.C.A has been consulting, planning, and building with its partners to create a brand new trail experience predominantly in the alpine. W.O.R.C.A's friends at the R.M.O.W have been focused on building a climbing route, while their contractors focused on three sections of trail in the alpine. W.O.R.C.A was tasked with building a fully intermediate descent from the top, right back down to the Flank trail. This epic loop is sure to blow minds, while the climb is certainly not fast, or easy. Into the Mystic as it's been dubbed, climbs through beautiful old growth forests and weaves its way into the alpine for over 8km.
Once in the alpine, the trail winds its way up On the Rocks' ridges and bluffs, with open views in 360 degrees, providing a unique new perspective on the Whistler Valley and beyond. Be sure to go all the way to the end of Happy Hour where you'll be staring down on Whistler. Then it's time to head back down to the junction of W.O.R.C.A's new flagship trail, Lord of the Squirrels. At 8km long this is one of the longer trails in the valley and is top to bottom intermediate flowy goodness. To say Whistler is really proud of this new part of the trail network would be an understatement, and they're positive that you'll love it too.
While the trail had a soft opening in the fall, this alpine portion of the network will be actively managed to ensure its long-term sustainability. With snowpack depths still in the two-meter range in the Sproatt alpine, the opening will be delayed and W.O.R.C.A will be implementing closures via signage and Trailforks during the melt, and later in the season when the fall rains return. Please watch WORCA.com for updates over the coming weeks and for information regarding an official grand opening later in July or August.
In addition to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park
, partners at Whistler Blackcomb also maintain many of the public trails not in the bike park that area within their Controlled Recreation Area (CRA). The Blackcomb network of trails continues to see ongoing work and the builders of Microclimate have been putting in a lot of work over the fall and spring. Microclimate is currently closed due to snow melt and seepage from higher on the mountain and while the builders do maintenance. Please respect these closures. On the Whistler south side of the CRA, Heavy Flow and Hind Sight have also seen work this spring.
The future is bright for riding in Whistler, with the recent release of the Mountain Biking Economic Impact Study and the knowledge that mountain biking contributes over $59 million a year into the local and provincial economy, W.O.R.C.A is excited to use that information to help implement the long-term trail development plan to help better connect and diversify the network for non-motorized users and keep the existing trails maintained to the highest standards. W.O.R.C.A does ask that when you're here you respect the trails, closures, wildlife, and most of all, other trail users. Whistler can't wait to share their old and new trails with you this summer, whether you're mountain biking, hiking, trail running, or just sightseeing, they've got a trail that you'll enjoy using!
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