Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: Northair MineNorthair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest.  Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine.  You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park or Alexander Falls, both of which are just a couple kilometres away.

Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

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Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company the Northair Group.  The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982. Today it is a bizarre little world in the mountains that has become an incredible place to escape the world and camp out under the stars.  Northair Mine is tricky to find and even when you near it, the turnoff is not obvious.  The access road takes you high into the mountains and is only free of snow in May most years.  In 2016, for example, the snow melted enough for vehicle access during the first week in May.  Driving to Northair Mine is along a bumpy, potholed, old logging road drivable by most vehicles, though at least one deep washout may give even SUV's some difficulty.  Once Northair Mine comes into view it is quite a sight.  The area that surrounds the old ruins is unexpectedly huge.  About 2 kilometres long, edged by a cliff on one side and a beautiful lake on the other.

Callaghan Valley Large Map v17

A nice, smooth gravel road runs through the area, along the edge of the lake toward Whistler Olympic Park.  Canadian Wilderness Adventures has been constructing ATV paths and features around the ruins, which hopefully won't overcome the serenity of the area with sounds of humanity.  They have a reputation for being very considerate and conscientious, so if anyone can blend into the area in a positive way, Canadian can.  It is interesting to see the graffiti and mural art evolving at Northair Mine on the broad and numerous cement walls.

Northair Mine Crumbling Foundations

Northair Mine Mural 2013

Northair Mine Mural 2019

Northair Mine in 2013

Northair Mine in 2019

Northair Mine Kups Mural

Another gravel road runs through the massive cement foundations of what must have been quite a large building.  Beautiful graffiti art covers some of the cement pilings and scattered remnants indicate that this skeleton of a building has been home to its share of gatherings since being abandoned.  Whistler's cherished Flank Trail passes right by Northair Mine near its terminus at Whistler Olympic Park.  Although, the Flank Trail effectively ends far south of the Northair Mine, it piggybacks on the logging road that extends up and past the mine.  With the massive construction that preceded the 2010 Olympics, the Callaghan Valley had a luxuriously wide, paved road built high up into the mountains here.

Northair Mine in the Callaghan Valley

This road has become a destination in its own with its wide sweeping arcs revealing wonderful views, one after the other.  Though Black Tusk can be seen from many vantage points, seeing it from the drive up the Callaghan Valley has got to be one of the best ways to view it from your car.  From 25 kilometres away it looks shockingly close and its wonderful, pure black colour looks striking, framed by snowy mountains.  The Callaghan Valley has, and continues to experience dramatic transformations as varying interest groups vie for sections of this expansive wilderness.  From the endless logging roads leading to decades old clear-cuts, to political wranglings over proposed ski resorts, to the creation of Whistler Olympic Park, this area is both wildly beautiful, and surprisingly developed. The area seems now to have settled into a modern balance of limitless recreation possibilities and a seemingly infinite spider web of logging roads.  The Callaghan Valley is the wild and untamed cousin to the tidy and developed Garibaldi Park that exists across the valley and stretching down past Squamish.  Where motorized vehicles are not permitted in Garibaldi Park, ATV's and snowmobiles frequent the trails around the Northair Mine.  The easily visible, though unmarked trail that begins just across from the turn in to Northair Mine, is mainly used for these, and once in a while by hikers.  Due to the increased attention to the area however, the Flank Trail, and branching trails like this one are gaining the attention of local hikers.

Tent & Tarn in the Sproatt Alpine near Northair Mine

Mount Sproatt is the massive mountain that dominates the skyline across the Valley from Whistler Mountain.  If you continue driving past Northair Mine, the increasingly deteriorating logging road leads to one of Whistler's newest hiking/biking trails.  Still a work in progress by the folks at WORCA, the new trail network is designed and built by downhill bikers, however increasingly enjoyed by hikers.  The trail network stretches over this spectacular, wild and mostly untouched wilderness.  Dozens of lakes and tarns dot the hostile erratic and krummholz strewn valley.

The Flank Trail

The new trail spans the mountain from the Northair Mine side and down Mount Sproatt, intersecting with the Flank Trail about halfway between the Rainbow Trail and Function Junction.  The only reasonable explanation for the lack of hiking trail development in the area is simply the abundance of amazing trails in and around Whistler and in Garibaldi Park overshadowing the Callaghan Valley.  Certainly the beauty of the area is not in question and wonderful places like Northair Mine make for a unique and extraordinary starting point.

The Road to Northair Mine

Northair Mine Lakeside

Northair Mine Lake on a Beautiful Day

Driving Directions to Northair Mine

Northair Mine is located way up in the beautiful Callaghan Valley.  From Whistler Village, drive south on the Sea to Sky Highway for 13.8 kilometres and turn right onto Callaghan Valley Road.  Drive up into the Callaghan Valley for 7.6 kilometres and just after you cross the bridge over Callaghan Creek turn right onto the Callaghan Creek forest service road.  The gravel road is pretty good for the first couple kilometres until you make a sharp left turn and the road deteriorates quickly.  Still manageable by most vehicles, however there are a couple very deep waterbars that might surprise you.

Northair Mine Driving Direction Map

One of the trailheads to Mount Sproatt is found further up the road past Northair Mine.  The road quickly becomes narrow, steep and with several deep waterbars.  Most 4x4's will only make it a kilometre or two up before having to park and start hiking.

Sproatt Alpine Trailhead Directions Map

Two Interesting Historical Books!

A Passion for MountainsSlumach's GoldIf you have been to Sloquet Hot Springs, you likely had no idea that you were in the midst of a century old mystery of a lost gold mine.  Several books have been written about it and the History Channel even made a six episode show called Curse of the Frozen Gold.  The show was quite entertaining with the characters exploring the mountains around Sloquet.  The hot springs even appeared in one episode as they searched nearby for the mysterious hidden vein of gold.  The excellent book, Slumach's Gold: In Search of A Legend lays out the history and theories in enticing detail.  The next time you find yourself lounging in Sloquet Hot Springs, you will inevitably glance around and wondering if you are sitting near the hidden gold mine.  A Passion for Mountains by Kathryn Bridge is a fascinating look at Don and Phyllis Munday's prolific exploration of the mountains in BC.  Based out of Vancouver, they were dominant figures of the climbing community in the early 1900's.  In 1923 they visited their friend Neal Carter in Alta Lake(Whistler) and explored the mountains around the valley.. many for the first time!

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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  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  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  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyRainbow 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  Sproatt East  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerSproatt West  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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