Alpine hikers are getting a jump on the season. Whistler Blackcomb has opened its highest elevation summer trails two weeks earlier than usual due to the warm early summer temperatures.
All the trails are now open for walking, hiking and running. A few trails opened in mid-June but according to Arthur DeJong, Whistler Blackcomb’s mountain planning and environmental resource manager, everything is fully open as of Saturday, July 20.
“Warm weather this past spring, and so far this summer, has quickened the snow melt process in the alpine, resulting in early trail openings and a longer alpine hiking season. We are even seeing alpine flowers starting to bloom already, which is much earlier than we saw last year,” said Arthur DeJong.
DeJong noted the alpine wildflowers are expected to look spectacular through until the end of August. He said through a news release that the best trails for wildflower viewing are Lakeside Loop and the Overlord Trail.
The mountains offer more than 50 kilometres of hiking and running routes in the alpine at an elevation above 1,830 metres (6,000 feet).
The wildflowers aren’t the only natural attraction on the two mountains. Summer visitors have spotted deer, marmots and bears. While walkers, hikers and runners are enjoying the exposed ground, glacier skiers and snowboarders are training on the snow that remains in the alpine.
Vancouver resident Martin Reed suggested the mountain managers could easily add another attraction for mountain visitors.
“You should turn the snowmaking reservoirs into mountain top swimming ponds during the summer months,” he wrote on the WB Facebook page. “That would be epic!”
The alpine forecast for the next week is calling for mainly sunny conditions and temperature highs during the day of up to 19 degrees. While the alpine temperature is cooler than valley temperatures sunscreen is recommended for alpine trail users.
Access to Whistler Mountain is via the Whistler Village Gondola from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 8 p.m. Friday to Sunday.
Blackcomb is operating the Wizard Express from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Peak 2 Peak operates from 10:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily.