We felt somewhat out of place walking around Whistler with our snowshoes in our hands, the crowded walkways of Whistler jammed with skiers and snowboarders from around the world.
But we knew something that the hordes didn't! Whistler is an amazing basecamp for local snowshoeing. January 2006 went down on record as Whistler's snowiest, with one of the highest snowfalls on record. Better yet, the January accomodations "dip" in Whistler means this is an affordable time to go. The real fun in snowshoeing lies in finding rolling terrain and forests blanketed in powder.
Several great day trips near Whistler can deliver this. The Whistler area is known for it's epic hikes in summer. This should serve as a hint to the great snowshoeing nearby, and here's what we found on one such January escape.
First and foremost, the Duffy Lake Road north of Pemberton, one of the highest paved mountain passes in B.C. takes you into wild country just an hour north of Whistler. It's drier there too! Cayoosh Mountain and Mount Joffre (Joffre Lakes) are two awesome snowshoe routes that Coast Mountain Guides of Whistler will take you on. We chose the Cayoosh mountain route, where you can read our trip report here. Just an hour north of Whistler, you get away from the crowds and experience pristine wilderness and silence that few will ever experience.
Closer to town - as a tamer afternoon or morning experience - are the snowshoe trails on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. I was surprised how quiet it was once we entered the trail, we wouldn't have known there was a ski hill nearby as we descended from where the Gondola dumped us. The outing with Outdoor Adventures of Whistler only took three hours total and our guide kept us entertained with Whistler history, and, other interpretive details. Outdoor Adventures offers seven different snowshoe trips named "Natural Mystic", "Enchanted Forest", "Winter Wonderland", and more. These trips are ideal for enthusiasts who like to stay "closer to home" so to speak.
For those that wish to explore on their own, the Lost Lake circuit is always popular with cross-country skiers and snowshoers. But depending on the temperature, you may need an umbrella more than you need snowshoes. That's why the secret to Whistler for snowshoeing is to get up into the Alpine, either up the Gondola, or on a full day trip north to Duffy Lake Rd. and Mount Cayoosh or any number of other valleys along this pass.
There are other snowshoe routes close to Whistler like Crater Rim or Tunnel Vision that one can find on trailpeak. Just use our search engine for snowshoeing near Whistler.
Also, any back-country ski route would also serve as a candidate route, as long as the participants have avalanche training.
If you don't, consider one of the two snowshoe tour companies described above, and think about Whistler as a base camp for some excellent back-country snowshoeing!