We’ve been navigating the scenic curves of the Sea to Sky Highway more often this summer, and with good reason. Events, adventures, and introducing everything from Howe Sound and the Squamish Spit to Dusty’s BBQ the Tantalus Lookout to visiting family from the Midwest. While you may think of Whistler Blackcomb as a winter playground, there is an abundance of activities for summer travellers looking to take in scenic views, go for a hike, mountain bike, or sip and savour the flavours of the season in the bustling village. If you’re looking for one last adventure this season, here are some tips for making the most of your trip up Highway 99 for a hike with the family.
Late Summer at Whistler Blackcomb
Depending on your level of activity, and especially if you’re heading up the mountain, be sure to pack sun protection, a hat, and water. Bug repellant of some kind won’t hurt as up there you get some mighty large insects looking for a place to land. Wear proper footwear and make sure everyone in your group knows the plan for the day. Our activity of choice was a 60 minute hike on Blackcomb (we could have done longer but we had a late start to the day).
Peak 2 Peak
When you’re in the area that boasts the longest and highest lift in the world, I highly recommend that you go for a ride. The Peak 2 Peak reaches between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, traveling 4.4km across and 1,427ft above the valley floor. You can purchase your tickets in advance or pick them up under the GLC in Whistler Village, where you’ll find the Whistler Village Gondola.
The Whistler Village Gondola will take you up to the Rendezvous Lodge. There we stocked up on water, granola bars, and considered a quick hike on the Peak Traverse Express to take a chair to the Whistler peak first. Since it was already late afternoon we walked straight over to the main entrance to the Peak 2 Peak.
Depending how many are in rotation, you can get in line for a silver cabin with a thrilling glass bottom floor panel. The wait was 15 minutes when we were there last so we just went in line for a regular cabin, which depart every 49 seconds.
These online resources, which are also available on the mountain, let you know a trail’s length and if it is open or not. The trails are given ratings, much like ski runs, to let you know their level of difficulty from green to black. John and I usually do green and blue walks when we’re just heading up for part of the day.
The very quick Alpine Walk, the first you’ll see when you arrive from the Peak 2 Peak, has an estimated completion time of 60 minutes although walking briskly we can breeze through it in 30 minutes even after stopping to take a few Instagram-worthy photos. The ground is packed dirt, with a few sections where you’ll need to walk over flat boulders or up a reasonable incline.
It’s the Alpine Walk that will connect you to other route like the Overlord Trail (blue) that can take you around the Lakeside Loop (blue) for a view of Blackcomb Lake. One day we’ll give ourselves enough time to complete the Overlord Trail, branching off on the Decker Loop (black).
Tip: Check the hours of operation and last download time of any chair you take up the mountain. We went up around 3:30pm and the last Peak 2 Peak or chair lifts down were 5:15pm. These times were clearly marked at the lifts as well as on signs along the Alpine Walk.
Cool Down at Blackcomb’s Base
Our group decided to take an open-air chair lift down to Blackcomb, instead of returning on the Peak 2 Peak. The Solar Express connects you to the Wizard Express delivering you right into the middle of Blackcomb’s base at the Upper Village. These two chairs provide excellent views of the entire region and another small thrill for visitors like ours who aren’t used to mountain views.
At the Upper Village, a 10 minute walk from Whistler Village, you’ll find the Family Adventure Zone presented by Nintendo which is open 10:00am to 6:00pm Sunday to Thursday and 10:00am to 8:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays until September 1st. Blackcomb is admittedly a bit quieter in the summer compared to the sizeable Whistler Village but this adventure zone, with 14 attractions, had it teeming with fun-seekers throughout the afternoon.
We didn’t stick around to check out the mini golf, bungee trampoline, go carts, maze or Freefall Trapezy, but we did take a run through the giant spray fountain to cool off. We walked back over to Whistler Village and grabbed some $4.95 food (yes all their food all day is $4.95) from El Furniture Warehouse to refuel.
While we didn’t stay overnight on our last trip up, we did enjoy a weekend at the Fairmont Whistler at Blackcomb earlier in the summer.
This cozy and luxurious ski lodge transforms into a bright and sunny oasis in the summer. Fragrant flowers in the grand lobby, live music in the lounge, multiple outdoor pools, an indoor pool and steam room, hot tubs, and poolside drink service make you feel like you’ve been whisked away to a tropical resort (just don’t mind all the lush evergreens on the mountain slope behind you).
Sunday Farmer’s Market
One thing I love about Fairmont hotels is that they are usually quite on the ball when it comes to social media. I had no idea there was a Whistler Farmer’s Market until I saw a photo of delicious-looking pastries on the Fairmont Whistler’s Instagram account.
The market takes over the Upper Village every Sunday until July to October, and Wednesdays in July and August, from 3:00pm to 7:00pm. Pick up fresh fruit, produce, and more from the Pemberton Valley and other local sources.
If you are looking for more summer activity options at Whistler Blackcomb follow their team on Facebook and Twitter. There you’ll also find information about Crankworx happening until August 17th, the Whistler Presents Concert Series until September 1st, Winemakers’ Dinners, and the 5 Peak Race on August 23rd.