If you want a perfect introduction to alpine hiking in the Whistler Village area, try Singing Pass in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
For much of the year this high mountain pass is under a deep snow cover. In June, warm temperatures accelerate the melt in earnest, turning Fitzsimmons Creek into a raging torrent. By July only a few remnant patches remain giving nourishment to a profuse spring bloom of alpine flora. Colourful purple lupines, orange avalanche lilies, and red Indian paintbrush carpet the rolling alpine topography.
Your position is wild, for the high 1700 metre pass bridges two local prominent mountain ranges. Both the Fitzsimmons and Spearhead Ranges boast numerous picturesque alp-like peaks with snowfields and tumbling glaciers. Names like Tremor, Shudder and Quiver conjure rugged images. The views are excellent. Overlord Mountain, the highest in the area at 2621 metres stands sentinel over the summit of the pass mirroring its reflection in nearby cerulean, Russet Lake.
Singing Pass was poetically named in the 1950's for the sound of the alp wind caressing the slopes. If you lay back in the meadow and close your eyes it's possible to hear the breeze funnelling down from the Musical Bumps: Piccolo, Flute Oboe summits of the Fitzsimmons Range.
Singing Pass is undoubtedly the best and most rewarding, accessible hike close to Whistler Village. It is moderate in difficulty for intermediate hikers. As with all hikes in high alpine areas weather can be changeable. Be prepared, bring adequate clothing, food and navigation aids.
ApproachTravel Highway 99 to Whistler Village. Trail starts near the Whistler Village Bus Loop; follow the signs. Parking is available in Whistler Village day lots. Designated parking is permitted in Lot 4 for those on overnight trips.
Whistler Village to Singing Pass Total Length, 22 km; Time 3 to 4 hours one way (down), 7 hours up; Elevation Gain, 1000 metres. Beginning at the bus loop drop off area (just oppoiste the free parking lots - and not far from the summer bike chairlfits and Gondola), follow the Whistler Mountain access road for approximately 500 metres. Turn left on the old Singing Pass Road (by foot only - contrary to what some outdated books suggest), which continues along Fitzsimmons Creek to the Garibaldi Provincial Park boundary 6 kilometres from the Village. The trail then branches and follows Melody Creek to Singing Pass as the attached map shows. It's an easy trail to follow, not rooty and steep like most Northwest hikes, just a classic single-track trail with lush forest giving way to shrub and alpine meadows. For those who wish, take the Gondola up (instead of down) and follow to Piccolo, Flute and Obo, then curve around and descend aling Melody Creek and finally, Fitzsimmons. An easy trail to follow.
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Posted By: JB627
- Mon Jul 17 01:40:56 UTC 2017
UpsideNone DownsideTrail start composed of 1 KM of dusty, steep and heavily trafficked mountain service road. In addition, needing to to cross out-of-control downhill mountain biker trails. Surely there can be an alternate start to this trail. Trail marking at the second water reservoir totally absent, trail/road divides with no clues which fork to travel. CommentParks BC needs to create an alternate start to this trail. Access through Parking lot 5 through a heavily trafficked (trucks and bikes) service road is a non-starter. An incredibly disappointing afternoon. In its current configuration would not recommend this trail to anyone.
Posted By: cecilia
- Thu Jul 05 04:17:16 UTC 2012
QuestionFirst time going on a hiking trip alone!
I would really appreciate knowing how to get to the Singing Pass Trail from the Whistler Village.
I am hoping to do the Black Tusk the following day. Is it possible to go on a route that connects the Singing Pass to the Black Tusk without arriving back at the village?ANSWERS are in this forum: Garibaldi Trails
Posted By: trailrunner
- Sun Aug 23 02:30:15 UTC 2009
Upside Great wide, gentle incline & even surface trail with little obstacles suitable for fast running, particularly on your way down for the blistering sprint. Good introductory trail for someone interested in doing trail running. I wonder if a race can be orgaznied in this course for going up and down for 29k; 5 Peaks race was on today, but you need to spend money to get to the top to race. Fantastic view of alpine landscape. Rather brightly lit alpine old growth stands with green moss at the floor. Downside Slightly unclear marking above treeline as there are some diverging trails. If you are walking it is rather boring & long. Two major landslide sites & half a dozen water bars would slow you down your fast pace on the way down if you are running. Comment 111mins from Whistler gondola bus stop gate to Russet Lake & hut 110mins from the Russet lake to gondola bus stop(had a bad calf pull and walked most of the way down from about half point). 221mins for bus stop to the lake and return(without injury should have been comfortably less than 180mins, fast distance runner should be able to do in 150mins). 249mins including all stopping time(20mins at top, 3mins photo, 5mins calf injury stretch).
You start from the yellow gate located at the Whistler bus stop near the gondola station. You go straight up the chemically paved gravel road until you see a water tower in few minutes on the left where you turn left. There are other trails & signs to caution mtn bikers etc but you keep going straight. The trail to Russet lake seems to be either old logging road or mining exploration road and the quality is very good. Also half of the way is either flat or almost flat. The trail goes past from second growth forest to beautiful small Mountain Hemlock/Amabilis Fir mix stands with green moss covering the ground, then to Alpine Fir clusters after which view opens up as tree line has been reached.
I recall there were 3 major creek crossing, and numerous smaller ones to take water from even past tree line is. As you past the diversion point to Whistler gondola peak station the view of various mountains and glaciers looms. A peek of Chekamous lake also. After few gentle switch backs you reach the highest point then Fissle peak & Russet lake emerge. There is a cozy hut, & outhouse at the lake side. The lake was much larger and waterflow was far more significant than I imagined as I was expecting something like Elphine Lake. I was hoping to try Fissle peak as people told me it is easy to climb it but without the established trail & my skill in scrambling I gave up as I saw the huge cliffy rocky peak in front of me.
Return is straight forward, its just I pulled calf rather badly as I was awkwardly trying to prevent the bad fall as I got tripped when running down at high speed. From this roughly halfway point I had to walk and found it is quite boring to walk down on long monotonous flat trail all the way down.
Posted By: pollypowder
- Mon Jul 24 15:57:22 UTC 2006
UpsideGondola Ride up is great.... especially if you cheat further and take the Peak Chair! The clear water of Russet makes for a rewarding (but short) swim. DownsideBugs! We camped at Russet and ended up hiding out in the shelter on a perfectly clear night, as the bugs seemed Deet-Proof! No shade while on the Musical Bumps, be careful of heat stroke. CommentNice views, however Russet was nothing spectacular if you're used to coast mountain scenery! In all it was a nice hike, but not one I need to do every year.
Posted By: trailpeak
- Sun Aug 01 22:31:59 UTC 2004
Upsidedistant carpeted meadow slopes, and the thick meadow at Singing Pass itself (many bees a buzzing), the views! DownsideNone, no matter which way you hike it. Hiking up, you get a free Gondola ride down and 8 km less of hiking. NOTE: You cannot drive up the 5km like many hike books suggest. This road is washed out years ago. CommentWhile Singing Pass trailhead used to be accessable with a 5km drive up the old forestry road, you now have to hike it from the Gondola area - and get a boring 5km gravel road - hike overwith before reaching the real trail head.
However once on the trail, it's old cedar, a perectly wide single track trail, gorgeous little stream crossings with ice-cold water to drink that is much appreciated on a hot day, and, a steady but gradual incline until you reach alpine meadows and Singing Pass.
My hiking partner was energized by the trail up, and singing even before the meadows and the high-alpine tundra where few trees grow.
We left the parking lot at 12:30, and, arrived at singing pass at roughly 4 p.m. Not bad at all, we dilly dallied in the meadows, which smelled heavenly. Once you slow down from your steady pace of hiking up, and simply breathe deeply in, you will smell pure sweet alpine meadow. At the singing pass junction, you will see signs to take you to Russet Lake (left), just a few kilometers away up and down the opposite ridge, or, to the right, a steady climb again as you reach obo, flute, and piccolo summits on your way to the Gondola ride atop Whistler mountain.
Just follow the signs. As you exit the park, you'll see regular (every 200 m or so) signs pointing you in the direction of the Gondola, which your aching legs are now anxiously awaiting. You have after all hiked steadily up for 21 km by the time you reach the Gondola.
This direction (up) is my favourite for two reasons. One, you don't have to pay for the Gondola if you hike up (else it's $24). Two, as you hike up through heavily canopied forests, you are protected from the day's heavy sun, and, the anticipation builds especially as the forest gives way to Alpine meadow. You have earned your views and views there are. 360 degree panoramas over to Russet Lake area, and all surrounding mountains of Garibaldi. Some great views down to Cheakamus lake as you get past Flute and Piccolo.
Posted By: Hiker_Ryan
- Wed Mar 24 17:42:10 UTC 2004
UpsideAwsome, gorgouse views, good exploration at the top, lots of good spots along the way up, a great hike :) DownsideBit steep if you takin a full 70L backpack up but well worth it. CommentAss-kickin good trails!
Posted By: bc_hucker
- Tue Aug 26 21:29:31 UTC 2003
Upsidegreat views, nice hike, easy access from whistler village, very well marked. Downsidegreats rather crowded at the campsites on a saturday night. Commentthis hike offers incredible views, and gives a good workout. It is very neat to see the land change from new growth forest, to old growth giants, to the alpine meadows, and to alpine. It is easy to get water until you reach musical bumps, so make sure you have water for the rest of the hike. (3km) We did it with 70L packs packed full, and it wasnt too bad. I recommend this hike to everyone.
For a Photo Gallery of Russet Lake go to http://www.pbase.com/coleo/russetlake&page=1
Photo Credit: Cole Fiorito
Posted By: seawallrunner
- Wed Jul 30 20:15:29 UTC 2003
Upsidethe views! as you bop up and down aside or over four mountain peaks (Whistler, Piccolo, Flute and Oboe) you see endless ridges, cracking snowfields, lush mountainsides, several ponds, one big lake (Cheakamus, thousands of feet below Piccolo) and a few other blissful hikers along the way. If you have some energy or enthusiasm left at Singing Pass, I highly recommend climbing up Cowboy Ridge to Russet Lake, for a dip in a small roud lake near Fissile Peak. I disagree with the previous comment, do walk down to the village - the final walk down Singing Pass is anything but dull... as you descend, you see the forest transformed as you drop altitude - from meadows to dwarf trees to moss-covered giants... small rivulets become larger creeks and suddenly you are walking along the very loud Fitzsimmons river to the right of you... Downsidefew water sources on Musical Bumps - be prepared. Also a good idea to bring sunblock, as there's no shade up there until you start descending Singing Pass
Posted By: wanderlust
- Thu Jul 17 04:52:55 UTC 2003
UpsideEasy grade if you're hiking from the base - even easier if you cheat with the gondola. Incredible flowers and views at the pass, fascinating landscape along Flute, Oboe and Piccolo peaks. DownsideYou have to keep tabs on Gondola times - the round trip (up the trail, across the musical bumps, down the ski hill) is a killer 28km - missing the ride leaves you a dull 7km you can do without! CommentIt's the top of the world - once you reach the alpine at the pass the many ridges are open for exploring. Gorgeous views of Garibaldi park!