The Blackcomb Burn is an epic Canadian workout hike that is designed to make your heart beat and turn your legs into jelly. Having said that, it is also really fun, even if (like me) you’re not a fitness freak! The trail winds through several different types of forest, past some giant old growth trees. It also meanders through flower-filled meadows (that are ski runs in winter). On our ascent we even saw a huge black bear! The hike is made up of three parts, so you can give it a try, and then take a gondola the rest of the way up if you don’t fancy walking the whole way.
Blackcomb Burn Map
Blackcomb Burn / Blackcomb Ascent Trails – the basics
Distance: 6.1 km
Elevation gain: 1200m
Highest Point: 1860m
Time: 2.5-3 hours
What to bring:
Hiking poles. Enough water for 3 hours (you can refill your bottles at the lodge at the top.)
The 10 Essentials.
The trail starts at the Blackcomb Lodge, so you’ll find loos, restaurants, shops. Basically anything you need!
There are countless benches where you can rest on your way up.
There is a cafe and a restaurant, water fountains, flushing toilets and a shop at the top by the gondola.
No dogs on this trail.
How hard is it?
Challenging. I am surprised that we managed it – our legs must be getting stronger!
You can grab a free map from the lodge or from Guest Services.
Extra Tip: If you plan on riding down the gondola, buy your ticket before you start the ascent. If you have an Edge Ski Pass, you’ll get one free summer lift ticket. If not, you can buy a Blackcomb download ticket for $40, or a $15 download ticket from the blackcomb gondola midstation. (Ticket info is here)
Blackcomb Burn – Can you do it?
Obviously no trail that gains 1200m over 6km is going to be easy. Still, considering those statistics, it doesn’t feel too bad. The path is well maintained and easy to follow, and you don’t have to clamber over roots or fight your way through vegetation. Plus there are plenty of benches to allow hikers to rest on the way up. Best of all, you can ride the gondola back down the mountain, so you don’t have to exhaust your knees on the hike back down.
All this means that most reasonably fit people will be able to manage this hike. We saw kids zooming up that made it look easy!
Blackcomb Burn / Blackcomb Ascent Trails
The Blackcomb Burn is actually made up of three smaller ascent trails.
Distance: 0.8 km with 74m elevation gain
This is a harder section of the ascent trails, with a mix of forest and meadows. This is the area where we saw a bear (from afar!) It finishes by the Blackcomb Gondola midstation.
The last section of the trail climbs all the way to the Rendezvous Lodge, where you can eat, drink and be impressed with your legs. This was my favourite section as the forest is really varied, the wild flowers are gorgeous and there are some beeeeautiful views as you get close to the summit. Plus there is a hidden castle near the top!
Blackcomb Burn – Getting Started
The Little Burn section of the ascent trails starts at the base of the Blackcomb gondola with an obvious, well paved path.
Wildlife on Blackcomb
I didn’t expect to see a huge amount of wildlife, as I thought the ascent trails would be really busy. However once we got to the meadows on the Big Burn, we looked over to see a huge black bear! He was quite far away, and not interested in hikers, but it was pretty amazing to see him! Once we made it to the top of the mountain, we also saw marmots and a stag, as well as countless birdies. Whistler and Blackcomb are both fantastic for spotting wildlife!
How busy is are the Ascent Trails?
I was really surprised by how quiet the trail was. Whenever I have visited other, similar steep hikes like the Grouse Grind or the Stawamus Chief, there have been crowds of people on the trails, especially at weekends. We hiked up the Blackcomb Burn on a Sunday morning, and it was really quiet. We did see a handful of other hikers, but considering how busy it is down in Whistler village, it was a shock to find such a quiet trail.
Paths and signs
The Blackcomb Burn has to be one of the best sign-posted walks I have done near Vancouver. Each trail has multiple signs to show you the way, as well as notice boards to teach you about the flora and fauna in each section of the ascent trails. I actually learned quite a lot about the various trees and types of forest we saw on the trail. The paths are excellent with good quality bridges and steps during the super-steep sections.
I really loved it when the path emerges from the forest into flower-covered meadows on the ski runs. The vistas are so, soooo different to the views of Blackcomb in the snow.
Blackcomb Magic Castle
Somehow I totally missed this on skis, but there is a magic castle in the forest, right next to the Heart Burn path! It looks a little strange when it’s not surrounded in snow, but it’s still a nice surprise on a hike.
Blackcomb Burn – Wildflowers
The meadows are filled with so many wildflowers – it must be heaven for bees! I spotted some glacier lilies, indian paintbrushes, alpine lupines and so, sooo many more. The grasses were full of busy bees and flowers.
As well as the flowers, we saw quite a few cool mushrooms as well.
Keep going up!
Each section of the ascent trail is a little steeper, plus you’ll find your legs getting progressively more tired. BUT once you’ve started the Heart Burn section of the trail, you sort of have to keep going to the top. My advice if you get tired, is to turn around and look at the views. Or, stop and take a photo to catch your breath. As the trail is just over 6km, if you keep plodding along, you’ll find yourself at the top soon.
Once you have made it up to the Blackcomb Rendezvous Lodge, (woot!!) you’ll be rewarded with some gorgeous views to the surrounding mountains. From here, there is easy access to some more beautiful alpine hikes. If you’d like to see these views but don’t fancy sweating your way up the Blackburn Burn, you can take the gondola up the mountain to here. Or, if you’re feeling flush, you can ride up in a helicopter.
Once you reach the lodge, there is a cafeteria as well as a restaurant. You can buy fast food like burgers, fries, soups or chili. We decided to try “Thai inspired” dishes. This was pork belly and vegetables with a red coconut curry sauce. We had it on kale, but you could choose rice or noodles if you need some carbs after the hike. This was pretty tasty and a great way to refuel, so we were ready to hike a bit further to Decker Tarn.
What do you think? Would you challenge yourself to hike up this trail? Or would you prefer to take the gondola and just explore the trails near the top of the mountain?
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