All that talk of epic snowfalls in Canada’s most recent winter Olympic village might not bring images of a summer cottage destination to mind. But imagine nestling in on your patio, looking out at a pristine alpine lake with pine forest-covered mountains rolling in the distance. Despite being home to a world-famous ski resort, Whistler is just as fun in the summertime. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Get on the water
In the valley of the coastal mountain range, stretching across the village boundaries, are crystal clear lakes with sandy beaches. The usual water sports are available: fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and of course, sitting on the shoreline watching the world go by.
To experience the best of Whistler’s water activities and its scenery, rent a canoe or go guided with Whistler Eco Tour, paddling from Alta Lake to Green Lake along the River of Golden Dreams. Launch in Alta Lake, which is home to the first settlement in Whistler and a popular fishing lodge in 1914.
These days, fishermen catch-and-release away from the thick reeds and beaver huts that dot the shoreline. The lodge and its large lot is no more, instead replaced with private cabins and sprawling mansions looking out onto the lake.
The north part of the lake leads to a river which meanders for 5 km underneath a thick canopy of hemlocks, firs, willows, and cedars. Warblers and hummingbirds flying above and rainbow trout swim between the pond lilies below as the river leads boaters into Green Lake.
Get on your feet
With countless backcountry and hiking opportunities surrounding Whistler, one could spend an entire lifetime in the woods surrounding the village. Up into the mountains, once the snow clears in May and June, snowmobile trails and ski runs make way for hiking and ATV trails.
Trail runners and hikers have plenty of options. The Valley Trail is also a walking path which meanders past Alpha, Nita, Alta, Lost, and Green Lakes, and is easily reached from anywhere in the village.
Back in the village limits, the hikers with legs that shake at the thought of too much incline, catch a lift on the gondola to find Whistler’s trail network among the peaks that range from mild to difficult and allow hikers to get up close to the alpine bowls and glaciers that make up some of Whistler’s most scenic lookouts.
Get on your bike
ATVer’s will rejoice on Cougar Mountain, a 10-minute drive north of Whistler. Bring your own or catch a guided tour with The Adventure Group. ATV trails pass the zipline park and follow rugged dirt paths over granite rocks up the mountain to various viewpoints and backcountry yurts. Be prepared to get dirty from head-to-toe on these rough tracks.
Whatever dose of adrenaline you’re after, you can find it in Whistler.
For a mild ride along bicycle paths that cruise lake shorelines and deep forests, try the Valley Trail. The paved track connects almost all of Whistler’s extensive network of cross-country, free single-track downhill trails and village bike lanes.
While your legs are still fresh, head to Lost Lake, a section of free trails for mountain biking that range from easy, green-rated paths to black-diamond technical rails for the experienced rider.
And for the real adrenaline junkies, try the Whistler Bike Park. Load your dual suspension bike onto the chair lift to climb up to either 1000 m above sea level or to the 2180m peak. Prepare for an intense descent back into Whistler Valley and keep an eye out for black bears and other wildlife roaming near the huckleberry bushes and wildflowers on the alpine trails.
Get a drink
The list of bars, pubs, and restaurants in Whistler is extreme. Choices include sunny patios with live music to the world’s coldest vodka tasting room (minus 32 degrees Celsuis). Locals seem to agree that the strawberry sake margaritas at Sushi Village and a growler of craft beer from Whistler Brewing Company are the “must-have” ingredients for a summer party in the village.