Crater Rim Trail – Whistler Hikes
The Crater Rim Trail is a great hike near Whistler; Come here when you fancy seeing mountain views, but when you don’t want to climb high into the alpine. We explored this hike at the end of May, where there was too much snow for safe hikes at higher elevations.
We followed the route in 105 Hikes, which includes a loop up over a ridge (with a fantastic viewpoint), down to loggers lake, and then a pretty hike through the Whistler Interpretive forest. If you have less time, you could just do the Crater Rim trail including the viewpoint. That would be 4.5 km, and take around 2 hours.
Crater Rim Trail Map
Crater Rim Trail – the basics
Distance: 10.5 km
Elevation gain: 360m
High Point: 912m
Time: 3.5- 5 hours (we took less than 3.5 hours, including breaks)
What to bring:
Make sure you have plenty of water as the trail gets quite steep.
The 10 Essentials
There is a car park with a porta potty and park benches.
How hard is it?
Moderate – the path is easy to follow, but has some steep moments.
Crater Rim Trail – getting started
The trailhead is at Function Junction (what a good name for a turning off the highway!) there is a car park by the edge of the Whistler Interpretive forest. This trail starts on the riverside trail, that has information boards about the forest, so you can learn as you hike. Then, after no time at all, you need to cross the Cheakamus river, then head into a housing estate to reach the main trailhead on Cloudburst road.
Whistler Interpretive Forest
There are three interpretive forests along the Sea to Sky highway. We visited the one at Brohm Lake earlier this year, so learnt that they were set up as outdoor classrooms to help people find out about BC forests and how they are managed. This forest is on the edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park, so it feels like your walking into true wilderness.
The ridge Trail
The start of this hike can be a little confusing, especially when you need to walk through a housing estate at Whistler Olympic Village. However once you’ve found the start of the ridge trail, everything becomes easier. The path is easy to follow, and even though we visited on a Saturday afternoon, it was surprisingly quiet.
As you hike up the rim of the volcano, you’ll start to see some fantastic views back towards Whistler and the other local mountains. There are a couple of areas where the path is covered in rocks, so this is the best spot for uninterrupted views through the trees.
Marc and his brother Tom zoomed up the steep section of the hike, and then relaxed looking out at the views while I caught up. There is a bench (ish – it’s a plank with a second plank to lean on) at the prettiest viewpoint, even though this is not the top of the ridge.
Crater Rim viewpoint
Isn’t this view fantastic? You only need to gain 360m in elevation, but you can see all the way over to Mount Fee and Brandywine Mountain.
As well as the main viewpoint, there are quite a few moments when it is worth stopping and peeking through the trees. The views North are particularly gorgeous with all the snow-capped peaks beyond Whistler.
You even get a good view over to the Black Tusk! I always like to see this iconic spike on our hikes.
Loggers Lake from the Crater Rim
After you start to descend down into the forest, you’ll get a peek down to Loggers Lake, in the center of the volcanic crater. That is where the path is heading next.
The path down to the lake is steep, but pretty gorgeous.
Once you’ve hiked down from the high-point of the crater, you’ll reach this lovely loggers lake.
Someone has chained a tree trunk to the edge of the lake, so you can walk right out onto it. It felt pretty safe to me, so I went out to the end – but Marc didn’t give me the photo, so you’ll have to make do with a less adventurous photo of Tom.
Geology geek moment
When you look up from the lake, you can see these really cool column-shaped rock formations. This just shows we were standing in an ancient volcano. When lava cools into basalt, whatever fracture pattern forms at the cooling surface tends to be propagated down, deep into the lava, forming long geometric columns. I love seeing this kind of thing on hikes!
MacLaurin’s Crossing Suspension Bridge
Once you’ve finished at Logger’s lake, head down towards the Cheakamus river. You need to double back on yourself a little in order to cross the Cheakus River on the suspension bridge.
You can see the river was a little too choppy to consider crossing it without that bridge!
Once you’ve crossed the bridge, turn right and follow the Farside trail (in the opposite direction to where you want to end up!) The trail is close to the river, and has some amazing old growth trees, so it is a fun section of the hike. If you don’t fancy more walking, you could follow the Farside trail in the opposite direction for a speedier route back to the carpark.
We didn’t want to miss any of the trail, so we followed the loop up to the highline trail, and then all the way back to Function Junction.
You may have noticed there are only three of us on this hike, even though we were exploring with Marc’s brother Tom, and his girlfriend, Andreia. Andreia hurt her knee earlier in the week, and so wanted to explore Whistler, rather than join us for this walk. We were all a little worried to leave her, so we zoomed around this trail! I would definitely like to return and hike it at a more leisurely pace! Still, despite our speediness, I hope this gives you a good idea for a fun, intermediate-level hike in Whistler.
Click on the images below to pin them for later.
42 thoughts on “Crater Rim Trail – Whistler Hikes”
We love a great hike and this looks so beautiful! Whistler is on our bucket list and we need to get there ASAP. I can’t wait to see Loggers Lake in person
Oooh let me know if you come. We’re hoping to head that way again this weekend, so I might have more hiking ideas for you by the time you get here.
I’m glad that Marc and Tom waited for you while you were tackling that incline. It sounds like my husband and I. He’s a mountain goat, bounding up anything steep, while I lag behind trudging along. The interpretive forest is such a great idea! Nothing like hands-on learning.
Ha! I think they were having a bit of brotherly competition to be speedy. I was happy to go at my own pace and take photos. 😉
I really like the interpretive forests here…although, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we first heard about them. It made me think of drama students pretending to be trees (like interpretive dance!)
Another lovely looking hike, Josy!! I so wish I could afford to come out and visit right now and do some hiking with you!
Oooh I am sure you two will be back at some point. I will have a super long list of possible hikes when you do!
By the way, I genuinely think you’d love this one. The effort-to-view ratio was fantastic!
Went to Whistler ages ago, definitely have to revisit and go on this hike.
Oooh did you go in winter or summer? Both are gorgeous (but totally different!!)
Wow those views are beautiful! I’d be jumping for joy too 😉 I wish we’d done a hike like this when we were up at Whistler, it’s so amazing.
Let me know if you come back! I have loads of ideas for fun hikes in this area. This is a good one for people that have just started hiking, but there are some epic longer walks too!
This hike looks awesome! I’d love to do it once I’m back in Canada after my US road trip 😀 Are you based in Whistler?
No, we’re over in Vancouver, but it’s not too long a drive, so we head out to Whistler quite a lot (especially in winter!!)
This looks fun, great views from the suspension bridge too, that water looks really fast. Love your pictures!
I looove suspension bridges!! I’m glad it’s not just me. 😉
Whistler looks so gorgeous as does the view from Crater Rim! Looking down from the suspension bridge looks awesome too. Your posts have been making me want to go to Whistler so bad.
I hope you can Francesca! It is such a gorgeous area to explore!
The West Coast is so beautiful. This hike looks stunning! I love how there’s an interpretive forest and a suspension bridge too! Love your photos!!
Thaaank you! Yeah, the West Coast has sooo many lovely hikes like this!
Love the jumping photo in front of that incredible view. The hike looks amazing too, so quiet and so dramatic. Brilliant.
Yay! Glad you like the jumping photo Jonno! I love taking those!!
I love a “geology geek” moment haha! What a beautiful hike!! I’m always looking for new hiking trails to discover and I’m always interested in crossing new suspension bridges 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Yay that someone appreciates my geology geekiness! I always find rocks fascinating, but volcanic areas are the best!!
Thanks for sharing! I haven’t heard of this hike until now and will definitely look it up…so many more hikes I need to do!
Oooh it’s one of the walks in the 105 hikes book, so it might become a little more popular. It really is great for the shoulder season (or when you fancy an easy-ish day…)
Great photos and narrative about the hike! I’m with Tom, though; I don’t think I’d be adventurous enough to go out to the end of that log dock!
I am normally a bit afraid of them too… but it was so securely fastened that it was just kind of fun! I just didn’t want to fall in/be cold!
I’ve been considering trying to hike! You guys did awesome for hiking this in less than the time range they said. Pictures are stunning as always!
Yeah we find if the hikes are easy/intermediate we normally finish them faster than the official times BUT for harder hikes, we take the whole time (or more!) |
I hope you can do some walks – you can start with easy ones that your kids would like. 🙂
Such an exciting hike! The endless forest and the snow capped mountains in the distance would make an uphill hike worth it! I’m still a novice hiker but I love hikes which combine stunning mountains and beautiful lakes – this hike totally fits the bill.
This one is actually really good for beginners (as it would be hard to get lost, and it’s not technical.) I’m glad you like the look of it!
Let me know if you head out to this part of Canada, I can help you choose some fun walks.
I love hiking, the place looks lovely. Loggers lake is so calm and beautiful. This is absolutely my kind of place to visit.
Those views are absolutely beautiful! I need to do this hike someday.
I cannot wait to visit Canada. Such awesome views!
More basalt columns, so cool! We first saw them years ago in Ireland where they tried to imply that this was one of only a couple places in the world. Since then we have seen them in Asia, know that there are some in the Midwest, and have seen them dozens of places in Iceland, but they are so bizarre that I love them.
Looks like a great hike. I loved the suspension bridge picture. I have a fear of heights but this hike is so gorgeous I will over come it!
I can think of nothing better than hiking in the west coast. Being from Ontario, I am a wee bit envious of your fantastic hiking trails, like the ones you have described here. Love that suspension bridge too!
Wow, this is so gorgeous! The perfect trail for a nature lover. I’ve just returned from a three-day hike and now I’m itching to do another, must remember this one for when I eventually make it to Canada! 🙂
Beautiful scenery and it seems pretty doable. Even to someone with a small knee injury like myself 😛 (I miss hiking, didn’t have the chance to do much this year 🙁 )
Every time I see a post on hikes in Canada, it really heightens my urge to finally make it out there! This hike looked absolutely beautiful and not crowded at all!!