Flank Trail Rating is GoodHiking and biking trails are so abundant in Whistler that many go unnoticed, neglected or taken for granted.  The Flank Trail is one of these.  Most people in Whistler don't even know about it, but the ones that do, love it.  Officially known as the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail, it runs the length of Whistler Valley, opposite Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, and connects to dozens of hiking and biking trails.

  • Relatively quiet compared to other trails
  • Spans the entire Whistler Valley!
  • Hard to beat views of Whistler far below
  • Many access trailheads along its length
  • Many branching trails extend to the alpine
  • Bivouacking along the trail is amazing
  • Mostly dog friendly & off the radar
  • Nice trail, but not overly exciting
  • No spectacular destination to reach
  • Alternate routes are more scenic

Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail ModerateRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlySproatt  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

 Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JanuaryJanuary  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking FebruaryFebruary  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking MarchMarch  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking AprilApril  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking MayMay  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JuneJune  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JulyJuly  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking AugustAugust  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking SeptemberSeptember  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking OctoberOctober  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking NovemberNovember  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking DecemberDecember

Whistler Waterfalls

Alexander Falls  Brandywine Falls  Cirque Falls  Keyhole Falls  Nairn Falls  Rainbow Falls  Shannon Falls  Train Wreck Falls  Wedgemount Falls

Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain dominate the view across the valley from Whistler Village and the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail traces a 40 kilometre route along the flank of these two mountains.  One end is high up in the Callaghan Valley near Whistler Olympic Park and the other is near Ancient Cedars & Showh Lakes!  At various places along the trail there are access points.  The Rainbow Trail trailhead is a popular access point for the Flank Trail as it enters the trail at roughly its midpoint.  Another good access is in Function Junction that can be found behind Olive’s Market at the old trailhead to Whistler Train Wreck.  Over the years the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail has been trimmed a bit.  With the building of Whistler Olympic Park for the 2010 Olympics the trailhead was pushed across the valley toward Northair Mine.  Much of this section of trail was, and still is old logging roads, so it doesn’t look or feel like a trail until it bends toward Whistler a few kilometres south of Northair Mine.  Previous to the Olympics the Callaghan Valley trailhead was just a stones throw north of Alexander Falls at the bridge that takes you to Callaghan Lake and Madeley Lake.  Now the trailhead is not marked at that end and is assumed to be north of Northair Mine at the edge of Whistler Olympic Park or at Northair Mine itself.

Northair Mine at the Callaghan Valley end of the Flank Trail

Northair Mine Lake on the Flank Trail

The Flank Trail Map

The Flank Trail is an Easy, Dog Friendly HikeThe 40 kilometre trail takes you past some pretty amazing sights.  From the beginning, Whistler Olympic Park is interesting and beautiful.  Sitting high up in the Callaghan Valley and built for the 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler Olympic Park is an impressive, civilized oasis in an otherwise thick forest wilderness.  Open seasonally, this metropolis in the woods, depending on the season is home to cross country skiing, snowshoeing, a biathlon experience, a surprisingly nice cafe, and endless trails to see the Olympic sights.  Not least the giant ski jump that you can get up close to appreciate its enormity.  There is an entry charge to get past the gate and unfortunately, more often than not, you will find Whistler Olympic Park closed.  The westernmost access to the Flank Trail, if you don't count the usually inaccessible Olympic Park, is effectively the long abandoned Northair Mine.  This briefly thriving gold mine is now an unusual little world in the woods.  A beautiful little man-made lake dominates the area now with a dirt road running along its edge, and to the surreal, cement skeleton-like foundations of what must have been quite a large building.  The foundations are now adorned with brightly painted murals and several small fire pits.  Standing in the relic you can look across the beautiful lake, green forest beyond and Rainbow Mountain in the distance.  In the summer and fall you can drive to Northair Mine as the Flank Trail that passes here is more accurately an old logging road, than a hiking trail.

The Flank Trail is a Gravel Road near Northair Mine

Past Northair Mine, the Flank Trail slowly descends toward Whistler and the logging road finally gives way to a wide trail that you quickly discover is popular with bikes.  The length, width and beautifully gradual elevation gain and loss of the Flank Trail makes it an amazing trail on a bike.  You can cover a great distance, see dozens of amazing viewpoints and all the while along are comparatively relaxing route.  The Flank Trail continues to descend all the way to Function Junction, the southernmost neighbourhood in Whistler.  It then turns 90 degrees to the left and ascends quickly along the flank of Mount Sproatt.  Tremendous glimpses of Alpha Lake, then Nita Lake, and finally Alta Lake come into view as you appreciate how quickly you have climbed.  Paddle-boarders on the lakes are tiny specks that take a moment for your mind to comprehend what they are.  Along this section, more than any other on the Flank Trail, you see frequent side trails.  Almost always on your right, but more recently on the left.  These purpose built bike trails, almost all black diamond in difficulty, plunge into the forest and along and over rock cliffs, over bridges and shockingly steep ramps.  The Flank Trail inspired the creation of bike trails, which in turn enable more hiking trails.  This back and forth trail building frenzy has, and is, producing a bewildering and ever expanding trail network on this once sleepy side of the valley.

Rainbow Falls on the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail

At roughly the mid point of the Flank Trail you will come to a small, overlapping section of the Rainbow Trail, near Rainbow Falls.  From Whistler Olympic Park to the Rainbow Trail, you will have hiked halfway around Mount Sproatt.  The Flank Trail seems to terminate at the Rainbow Trail, however a small sign directs you to turn right, follow the Rainbow Trail, for a couple hundred metres, then left after the water treatment building to the beautiful bridge over 21 Mile Creek.  A beautiful way to access the Flank Trail on snowshoes or on foot any time of the year is via the Rainbow Trail near Rainbow Park on the far side of Alta Lake.  From the road-side parking at the trailhead you are immediately plunged into deep forest, deep snow, and the sound of crashing water nearby.  The Rainbow Trail winds through the forest fairly steeply upward.  In less than a kilometre you come to Rainbow Falls crashing down through huge pillows of snow.  This little waterfall sits in a beautiful little snowy enclave that feels as though it belongs in some movie.  Deep snow, crystal clear green water cascading down from a frozen cliff.  A little, hidden paradise.  One of many in Whistler.  Further up the trail takes you to the first signs for the Flank Trail.  The Flank Trail overlaps and crosses the Rainbow Trail for half a kilometre.

The Flank Trail Bridge at Rainbow Falls

Following the Flank Trail to the right takes you to a very scenic bridge over 21 Mile Creek.  Following the Flank Trail to the left leads you to a steady ascent for 400 metres along the Rainbow Lake trail to the trail turnoff to the Flank Trail.  The Flank Trail from here quickly ascends through more deep forest and finally after 15 minutes opens up and flattens out.  The views become beautiful and trail less tiring.  WhistlerBlackcomb and Wedge mountains all come dramatically into view and Alta Lake appears far below.  Just steps from the trail take you to pristine, snowy outcrops, perfect for taking in the view on a sunny day.. and with most of the Flank Trail south facing, sun will always be facing you over Whistler.  The Flank Trail is way more than a day hike on foot or snowshoes.  It is best tackled in pieces.  The great advantage of accessing it from the Rainbow Trail is that you are roughly in the middle of the trail.  On snowshoes, it is especially good.  The Rainbow Trail is steep here, but very scenic and even small kids won't complain.  Every bend in the trail reveals another great view.  Dramatic views of the crashing creek, beautiful snow weighed down trees, wilderness waterfall and a wonderful, snowy bridge crossing, all in the first 15 minutes on the trail.  Fantastic.

The Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail in the Winter

View of Whistler Valley from the Flank Trail

Tent View on the Rainbow-Sproatt Alpine Trail

Vancouver Garibaldi Hiking Camping Rental

Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail ModerateRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMount Sproatt  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

  Hike in Whistler GlossaryThe Barrier  Hike in Whistler GlossaryBears  Hike in Whistler GlossaryCloudraker Skybridge  Hike in Whistler GlossaryCoast Mountains  Hike in Whistler GlossaryErratic  Hike in Whistler GlossaryThe Fissile  Hike in Whistler GlossaryFitzsimmons Range  Hike in Whistler GlossaryGaribaldi Ranges  Hike in Whistler GlossaryGaribaldi Volcanic Belt Hike in Whistler GlossaryGreen Lake  Hike in Whistler GlossaryHoary Marmot Hike in Whistler GlossaryKrummholz  Hike in Whistler GlossaryMount Garibaldi  Hike in Whistler GlossaryNorthair Mine  Hike in Whistler GlossaryOverlord  Hike in Whistler GlossaryPeak2Peak  Hike in Whistler GlossaryRoundhouse  Hike in Whistler GlossaryRubble Creek  Hike in Whistler GlossarySpearhead Range

 Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JanuaryJanuary  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking FebruaryFebruary  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking MarchMarch  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking AprilApril  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking MayMay  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JuneJune  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JulyJuly  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking AugustAugust  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking SeptemberSeptember  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking OctoberOctober  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking NovemberNovember  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking DecemberDecember

Best Hiking by Month

September hiking in Whistler is possibly the best month of all.  The snow has melted far up to the mountain tops, yet the temperatures are still quite ...
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July is a wonderful time to hike in Whistler and Garibaldi Park.  The weather is beautiful and the snow on high elevation hiking trails is long gone.  The ...
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Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, if you don't mind the drive is possibly the nicest snowshoe trail you could try in January.  It is only moderately difficult and ...
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Hiking in Whistler in October is often unexpectedly stunning.  The days are much shorter and colder but the mountains are alive with colour from the fall ...
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Best Whistler Waterfalls

Cirque Falls crashes down from Cirque Lake to Callaghan Lake, connecting these two remarkably beautiful and very different lakes.  Where Callaghan Lake is a ...
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Wedgemount Falls can be seen along the trail to Wedgemount Lake.  As the falls flow directly from Wedgemount Lake, they are located about three quarters ...
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Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from ...
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Whistler Train Wreck is a hidden little world of brightly graffiti painted, wrecked train cars along a gorgeous stretch of Cheakamus River.  One ...
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Hike in Whistler Glossary

Green Lake is the marvellously vivid, green coloured lake just north of Whistler Village.  Driving north on the Sea to Sky Highway, Green Lake appears ...
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The Spearhead Range is a subsection of the Garibaldi Ranges that runs in an arc that connects Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.  The Spearhead ...
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Hoary Marmots are the cute, pudgy, twenty plus pound ground squirrels that have evolved to live quite happily in the hostile alpine areas around Whistler.  In the ...
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Erratic or Glacier Erratic is a piece of rock that has been carried by glacial ice, often hundreds of kilometres.  Characteristic of their massive size and ...
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