Before You Go
This is a very long and somewhat difficult hike. It’s a 29m round trip with constant elevation changes as you cross several peaks and valleys. If you don’t already have a pass, you will need to buy a sightseeing lift ticket if you plan on taking the gondola up. Trails are well marked and easy to follow.
Although it would be possible to do in a day, you would be better off camping at Russet Lake and using the next day to explore the valley and glacier. There is a hut available if you don’t have a tent, but space isn’t guaranteed. Bring plenty of food, water and an extra layer in case it gets cold. You can fill up your water in the river that runs from the lake.
Day 1 – Whistler Peak to Russet Lake via the High Note Trail and Musical Bumps
This is a great hike if you don’t have access to a car. You can jump on the Whistler Village Gondola and the Peak Express, 40 minutes later you’re at the top of Whistler Mountain. It saves you the long walk up from the village but it’s pricey, a day ticket costs $50 if you book online in advance.
Once you reach the top you are rewarded with panoramic views of the Pacific Coast Mountain Range that you’re in. From here you can either go straight to the Musical Bumps trail or take the slightly longer but more beautiful route across the High Note Trail which gives you amazing views of Cheakamus Lake and the mountains and glaciers that surround it. It’s an easy and flat trail that follows the contour of the mountain.
Once you reach the peak of Flute Bowl you are rewarded with even more amazing views. You can look back at Whistler Peak, across to Blackcomb mountain and in front of you towards Fissile Peak, your destination. You are now on the Musical Bumps trail, which consists of Symphony, Flute, Piccolo and Oboe summits. It’s the longest and most difficult part of the hike, constant ups and downs, but the views are well worth it.
In the last valley, the trail splits. The left path takes you down Singing Pass towards Whistler village, also an alternative route up if you don’t want to pay for a lift ticket. The right path takes you up one last incline to Russet Lake with the red Fissile Peak towering over it.
The hut is the perfect place to sleep if you don’t have a tent, and you can use it to store food overnight to keep the bears away from your camp. There are plenty of spots around the hut to set up your tent, all with incredible views over the valley that dips away from you, and you’ll struggle to find an outhouse with a better view anywhere in the world.
Day 2 – Russet Lake to Whistler Village via the Singing Pass
You should get up as early as possible to make the most of the day. Russet Lake itself is not as impressive as the other lakes you’ll find in Whistler but the area around it is stunning. You can follow the river down into the valley and admire the sea of beautiful spring flowers. You can also climb up to a ridge overlooking the tip of the massive Overlord Glacier.
The walk back to Whistler Village via the Singing Pass is another 14.5km but it is all downhill. Simply head back the way you came until you get to the split in the road. Now a left turn will take you back over the Musical Bumps if you wanted to cross them and take the gondola back down, but you need to leave very early to catch it in time.
The Singing Pass is a gradual but very long path that takes you into the forest and eventually underneath the Peak 2 Peak. In some places, the path has been destroyed by rock slides but enough people take this trail to make a new path obvious enough if a little sketchy.
It feels like it will never end, but eventually you emerge into the midst of the Whistler Bike Park. Cross the bike trails with care, give way to any riders you see and before you know it you’ll be back at the base of the mountain, ready for a cold beer and a hot shower.
This was one of the most rewarding hikes I’ve ever done. Being so far away from everything, deep in the mountains with nothing but a backpack and a camera to capture the experience. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone with a desire to experience a different side of Whistler away from the typical day hikes like Joffre and Garibaldi Lakes.
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