Alpine Trail Program

Trail work image by Mike Crane

The Alpine Trail Program is a multi-year initiative to restore old trails and develop a range of both hiking only and non-motorized, multi-use trails on Rainbow Mountain and Mount Sproatt. Once complete, the network will include almost 40 kilometres of alpine trails.

Table of contents

  1. Overview, goals, completed initiatives, funding 
  2. Trail planning and approval
  3. Trails Planning Working Group
  4. 2019 Alpine Trail investments and initiatives
  5. Recreation Trails Strategy
  6. Trail safety and etiquette
  7. Current projects:
    1.  E-bike use on Whistler’s trails
    2. Alpine Trail Network  – hiking and biking trails 
  8. Trail maps
  9.  Wildlife research and planning
  10. Grizzly Bear–Human Conflict Mitigation Strategy and Response Plan
  11. Alpine Trail Ranger program
  12. Backcountry research hut opportunity
  13. Water supply protection
  14. Wildfire protection


The goals of this program are for the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to:

  1. Develop a network of both hiking only and non-motorized, multi-use alpine trails that provide an exceptional trail experience that is respectful of the environment, sustainable and well-managed over the long term;
  2. Provide visitors and residents with a unique opportunity for alpine hiking and mountain biking experiences all conveniently accessed from the resort; and
  3. Establish a vibrant Alpine Trail Network that will enhance the resort, support community health and provide economic opportunities—while proactively managing our natural areas.

Guiding documents for trails and trail planning in Whistler include:

Trail planning and approval

The RMOW-led Trails Planning Working Group (TPWG) formed in 2012 to coordinate the planning of hiking and mountain biking trails close to Whistler. The group includes representatives from the municipality and eight other agencies.

All trail approvals follow a formal recreation trail approval process, and for any trails or infrastructure proposed on Crown Land, Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) approval is required.

Alpine Trail enhancements: including safety and interpretive signage, increased monitoring with wildlife cameras and trail counters, relocation of the Himmelsbach Hut, installation of a viewing platform at the top of Happy Hour, and installation of an outhouse at the top of into the Mystic (to be completed in the summer and fall of 2020).


Several local issues precipitated the formation of the Alpine Trails Program. These included:

  • Emerging public use of the Mount Sproatt area, the ensuing potential unmanaged impacts to alpine environments and the municipal water supply, and the desire to be proactive rather than reactive about managing use;
  • Recommendations to Council from the Report on Whistler Area Hiking Trails (2010-2012), prepared by a subcommittee of the municipal Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee (FWAC), with a proposal to build a significant alpine hiking system in the Whistler area. This resulted in significant funding from Council;
  • The Garibaldi Park Management Plan Amendment for the Spearhead Area (2012-2014);
  • Concerns regarding existing and future recreational use of the 21 Mile Creek municipal watershed, which led to an assessment in 2014 and the 21 Mile Creek Source Water Protection Plan in 2015; and
  • Development of and subsequent submission for Canadian Wilderness Adventures’ Adventure Tourism Tenure Management Plan Replacement (2014-2016), including expansion of trail networks and associated commercial tenure services on Mount Sproatt.

Completed initiatives

The Resort Municipality of Whistler, WORCA and the Alpine Club of Canada – Whistler section received approval from Recreation Sites and Trails BC for trail construction and improvements on Rainbow Mountain and Mount Sproatt. The following initiatives have been completed:

Rainbow Lake/21 Mile Creek

  • Reconstruction of trails through the municipal watershed to Rainbow Lake
  • Outhouse improvements
  • Signage improvements relating to the municipal watershed
  • Campground improvements at Hanging Lake and trail improvements to Hanging Lake

Rainbow Mountain

Mount Sproatt

Construction of a series of non-motorized, multi-use trails ascending from Function Junction to the Mount Sproatt alpine, with a steep advanced mountain bike trail descent:

  • Into The Mystic
  • Lord of the Squirrels
  • On the Rocks
  • Happy Hour
  • Rush Hour
  • With a Twist
  • LESS

Improvements to:

  • Pot of Gold, Beverly Lake and Flank trails

Installation of an emergency shelter and benches at the peak of Mount Sproatt

Trailhead improvements

Valley-wide development and installation of trail maps, backcountry safety, etiquette and wayfinding signs

In-progress initiatives:

  • Grizzly Bear Risk Assessment (initiated 2018, anticipated completion autumn 2019)
  • Grizzly Bear-Human Conflict Mitigation Strategy and Response Plan (initiated 2019, anticipated completion summer 2019)
  • Rebuilding the trail from the Rainbow pass to Hanging Lake and the existing campsite on Mount Sproatt (50% complete 2018, anticipated completion autumn 2019)
  • Improvements to Trailheads (60% complete 2018, anticipated completion autumn 2019)

Find more information about the Alpine Trail Network and completed hiking and biking trails.

2019 Initiatives

Learn more about 2019 Alpine Trail Initiatives and Investments


Funding for Alpine Trail Program and related planning has been provided through the Province of British Columbia’s Resort Municipality Initiative


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