Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake

Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake

Aaaah Whistler; The home of some incredible hiking! I am very excited to share my recent trip along the incredible Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake. This hike is one of those rare chances to skip the slog up the mountain and spend 100% of your hike up in the incredible alpine area of Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park. I have written about the beautiful High Note trail that starts at Whistler Peak. This time (in order to see some different views) we followed the Half Note trail, and then rejoined the Musical Bumps trail via Flute Summit and Oboe Summit all the way to Russet Lake.

Half Note Trail & Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake map

Whistler Peak to Russet Lake trail – the basics

Distance: 11.5 km
Elevation gain: 556m
Elevation Loss: 
Russet Lake Campground Elevation:
Time: 4-4.5 hours
What to bring:
Water, snacks and your camera!
Loads of money or a lift pass
The 10 essentials. This walk is high in the alpine so you need to stay safe!
You take a gondola (and then a chairlift) up Whistler Mountain, so there are lots of facilities at the top. Restaurant, cafe, loos, shops, water fountains…anything you need!
No dogs on Whistler Mountain.
How hard is it?
Intermediate. There are a couple of difficult moments, but the trail is not too hard. It’s just feels hard when you have a backpack for camping.
Map: You should get a copy of the Clark Geomatics map.

Musical Bumps trail – Getting started

For once we didn’t start early for this hike. We were planning to camp at Russet lake, and we’d done parts of this trail before, so we were pretty confident we could finish it in 4-5 hours. However I didn’t really consider just how long it would take us to get to the start! You need to ride both the main Whistler Gondola as well as the Peak Express. We arrived in Whistler just before 3pm, bought tickets (there was no queue) and got straight onto the gondola up… but it was still around 4pm before we actually got started hiking.

Peak Express

To get to Whistler Peak, you need to take the gondola from Whistler village, and then take the Peak Express chairlift right to the top of the mountain. This will cost $78 on weekdays and $84 at weekends. (Ouch!) If you want to get to Russet Lake without this hefty price tag, you can hike up via Singing Pass.

Whistler Peak Views

Once you make it to Whistler Peak, you’ll want to stop for some photos! The views are incredible in all directions (and there is a huge inukshuk if you have never seen one before.)

High Note trail vs Half Note trail

Before you get started, you need to decide which trail you’d like to start on, to reach the Musical Bumps trail. The High Note trail is a little longer, and feels a little more wild as it follows fun, rocky pathways; While the Half Note trail goes along some wide, rocky ski runs. We previously walked along the High Note trail, so we opted for the shorter option along the Half Note trail this time.  Whichever trail you choose, the views are going to be spectacular. The photo below is from the loo by Whistler Peak – not bad for a first view of the hike eh!?

Half Note trail

If you decide to take the Half Note trail; Follow the wide ski run East, away from the chairlift. Follow the signs pointing to Mathew’s traverse.

Whistler snow walls

Each year at the end of the ski season, Whistler Blackcomb clears the access road to the chairlifts, leaving huge canyons surrounded by walls of snow and ice. If you visit in the springtime, you can hike along these snow walls above the Pika traverse. We visited in July, so these had mostly melted, but it was pretty cool (heh- literally) to find large snow walls near the top of the harmony chairlift.

Best bench in Whistler?

I loved this bear bench! You can find it halfway between the Peak Express and the Harmony Express chairlifts. Once there is lots of snow, the height of the bench can be adjusted; So in winter you’d be sitting up high, closer to the bear carvings.

This is the view from the bear bench. Hike along that path to the Harmony Express Chairlift.

Turn off onto the Half Note trail

You have to watch out for the pathway away from the ski runs. We almost missed it (because it was covered in snow.) Start watching out for the turning right after you’ve passed the Harmony Express chairlift.

Overlord Lookout

I love the wooden carvings along Whistler trails. There’s a fabulous eagle at the Overlord Lookout. That huge glacier off in the distance is the Overlord Glacier, on Overlord Mountain.

The Half Note trail crosses the Burnt Stew trail so you get some great view over to Piccolo Summit before you rejoin the High Note trail.

High Note Trail

The High Note trail follows along near the top of the ridge that leads back to Whistler Peak. If you fancy seeing more of that trail I have a post about it here. The views down to Cheakamus Lake were incredible this early in the summer.

There is one dodgy section along the High Note trail. You have to pull yourself up next to a tree, squeeze between a rock, then balance on a metal grid on the edge of the cliff. It’s not easy to do with a large camping backpack – but it is possible!


There were loads of wildflowers on the musical bumps trail. Well to be honest there are wildflowers everywhere in the alpine regions of Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Flute Summit

The High Note trail joins up with the Musical Bump trail then climbs straight up to Flute Summit. The trail is normally quieter from here.

I find hiking with a big backpack (that includes camping gear) a lot tougher than normal hikes. The rise up to Flute Summit is only about 80m elevation gain, but I had to stop several times to catch my breath; So I have some fab photos over to Black Tusk from here. If you have to stop for a breather, it’s not bad scenery to look at while you puff!

Once you have reached Flute Summit, the trail heads downhill for quite a long way. So it’s pleasant, easy and gives you a chance to look out to the surrounding mountain views.

As you hike further into Garibaldi Provincial Park, the trail is beeeeautiful.

This is the view over to the next peak along the Musical Bumps trail, Oboe Summit.

Oboe Summit

Once you reach Oboe Summit, the trail heads straight back down again to some gorgeous grassy meadows. I loved this part.

You can see the trail below. From Oboe Summit, you hike down to Signing Pass, then back up the mountainside in the distance. Russet Lake is just below that ridge in the distance, below Fissile Peak (the pointy, red-ish mountain.)

I love these meadows.

Singing Pass

Singing Pass is the low point between Oboe Summit and the next climb up to Russet Lake. There is a trail from here back down to Whistler village. We followed that route the following morning after camping at Russet Lake.

Beyond Singing Pass you are no longer on the Musical Bumps trail but, there is one more bump to climb! The trail climbs through more meadows up to the top of the ridge.

As you get higher, the trail become less green, and more rocky with large patches of snow.

And the views over to the surrounding peaks and glaciers get more and more incredible.

Russet Lake views

At the crest of the ridge, you will finally be treated to views of Russet Lake. If you have reservations to the new Kees and Claire Hut, it sits up here on the hill above the lake. If you are camping (like us!) you need hike down to the far side of the lake to the campground.

We arrived just as the sunlight was turning golden. There were still some patches of ice on the lake, that kept the water still so it could reflect Fissile Peak perfectly. It may be hard work to reach this lake, but isn’t it a fantastic location for a campground!?

This is from the campground at the far end of Russet Lake, looking North East. *Swoons*

As you can probably imagine from scenery like this, I have hundreds and hundreds of photos from this trip. So, I’ll write a guide about Camping at Russet Lake and hiking back via Singing Pass separately.

Panoramas from Whistler Peak to Russet Lake

I’ll finish with a gallery of panoramas from this ridiculously beautiful hike. You can click on them to see them full screen and get a better idea of the fantastic scenery along the Musical Bumps trail.

The hike from Whistler Peak to Russet Lake along the Musical Bumps trail was a complete treat. Click on the pins below to save them.

Half Note trail and Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake Backpacking in Whistler - Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake - Gorgeous hike in Whistler

56 thoughts on “Musical Bumps trail to Russet Lake

  1. I LOVE how creative the names are on this trail! Musical Bumps is probably the best trail name I’ve ever heard! It sounds like a fun trail and the views are incredible! Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Thanks Hannah! I love the name too. You know…on the other side of Whistler there is an alcoholic traverse with a load of alcohol related peaks. 😉

  2. The pictures look amazing!! It does look like a hard hike though, but it seems worth it. The names are really funny too.

    1. It wasn’t even *too* hard considering how amazing the views were. We just found it tiring because we had such heavy bags.

      The views were totally worth the energy!

  3. I absolutely love the musical themed names of all these trails – but that price tag!! It pains my heart (although I understand the lift expense). That first view by Whistler Peak is incredible, but they just kept getting better, wow. Officially on my bucket list (along with all the other hikes you’ve shared, haha) – especially the bear bench!

    1. Me too! Both for the cost (it’s sooo much, but so worth it!) and for all those views! I reeeeally hope you can visit one day!

  4. Those snow walls are so interesting! I love the views from this hike and the landscape is incredible – I hadn’t heard of it before reading your post!

  5. So many beautiful spots to hike in the Whistler area. I may never do this harder trail. But it was lovely to see the shots. And the trail names – Half Note Trail and Musical Bumps – was music to my ears! We won’t do this hike when we get to Whistler next month. But this post is a great reminder to go up and hike some of the easier spots.

    1. Oooh where are you planning to hike Linda? There are so many gorgeous easy hikes near this area too.

      We found the easy trails on Blackcomb were amazing if you need some ideas…

  6. What a great looking hike, and maybe a little quieter than some whistler hikes considering the fee for the ride up the mountain is needed. Love the views, I’ll have to check this out on a trip to whistler one time

    1. This one was super quiet, but I think it is more because we started after 4pm – the High Note Trail and Half Note trails are both pretty busy normally.

      It’s get quieter normally beyond Flute Summit if you fancy visiting.

    1. It’s a whole musical area! Just below here there are two bowls were people ski called Harmony Bowl and Symphony Bowl.

      Then, there are the peaks along this ridge (Piccolo summit, Flute Summit and Oboe Summit…) so as you go along the ridge, you visit the top of each musical summit = hence musical bumps. 🙂

  7. Such an amazing lake and terrific photos well done! I have never heard of this lake before now it’s on my bucket list thanks 🙂

    1. Thanks Valarz, if you have never heard of this; there are a bunch of gorgeous trails nearby. You will love Whistler. <3

    1. Yeah the price seems to go up massively every year. 🙁 It is an incredible area though so it is good people can get up there even if they couldn’t hike up this high normally.

  8. The Whistler area is awesome! I love the unique name ‘musical bumps’ . What a lovely hike, with stunning views and landscape! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  9. I’ve never been to Whistler, so I’m not at all familiar with their hikes. I love that their names come from music! The views look stunning with lots of character (love the wood carvings). Thank you for the tactical info! It’ll make a first visit so much easier.

    1. I hope you can visit Kerri. It’s a gorgeous musical area. You may not actually hear a flute/oboe/piccolo, but you’ll at least hear the marmots whistle!

  10. This is such a beautiful hike and wonderful that there is “lift assist” to get to the alpine. I remember, years ago, hiking into Russet Lake without this assist and it was a real slog. But the setting is magical. Your gorgeous pics are making me think I should try and fit this one in before the end of the summer.

    1. We came back via the slog way (via Singing Pass) it looked like a nice route, but it was waaaay easier to go down rather than up!)

      It really is a stunning area isn’t it!

    1. I think it is because the rest of the musical names in this area (you walk past Piccolo summit and hike up Flute Summit and Oboe Summit…) so you are traversing musical mountains/ musical bumps.

      It’s next to the Harmony and Symphony bowls in Whistler. 🙂

  11. This looks great! I am out of love with walking, but scenery like this makes me want to train and become more confident with trails like these again. Absolutely stunning, and wonderful photos.

  12. Oh dear god dude!!! This is insanely beautiful, I probably would have cried the entire time. I can’t believe it only took a few hours. It’s amazing the places we can reach if we just put in some time and effort. Sounds like maybe I should book “Claire Hut”, lol 😉

    It always seems like you guys have the entire trail to yourselves from your pictures. Do you choose ones that are known for being less populated, or is that just kind of the norm in your area of Canada in general (or is it camera trickery cropping magic)? If it’s truly not so crowded, what a blessing. I’d feel like one of the early pioneering fur trappers or something, like in the Revenant lol. Sometimes I wish I could have lived and explored back when places were undiscovered.

    1. OMG Claire, I hadn’t thought of that! The hut literally has your name on it! You have to visit!!

      The emptiness of trails is a bit of both. I would expect the first part of this trail to be busy at the weekend, but in the evening on a Friday we only saw a couple of other hikers the entire way! It does make it feel like real wilderness.

      We always see other hikers on trails on Vancouver’s North Shore (and everyone here complains that the trails are busy) but we have been quite good at choosing trails that are quiet, or if they are busy, going at times that are quieter…

    1. Thanks Cosette!
      Yeah, it was harder with a backpack, but still do able (I think those views gave me an energy boost…)

  13. That is one bloody expensive chair lift!

    Amazing views though. I especially love the pictures where you’ve captured the contrast of green trees against the rocky, snow-tipped hills.

  14. Holy Moly! The views just don’t stop up there! I’m so curious to hear more about the camping! I really want to visit Whistler. We were hoping to drive that way this summer, but the borders were still closed. Maybe next year!

    1. Oooh that was good timing! I just published the post about camping at Russet Lake. 🙂

      We also stayed at Helm Creek (near Panorama Ridge/ Black Tusk) If you can, consider adding that to your list when you visit. All the Camping areas near Whistler are incredible.

  15. Oh I could so do that hike again now, it’s always great to see hikes I’ve done through your eyes. Did you buy a summer pass? We did that a couple of years ago – still not cheap but it does mean you can go back multiple times.

  16. Hey! Amazing photos! I’m just wondering, did you have to buy the day pass for coming down to? Or is it just, pay to go up and then come down whenever at no extra cost?

    1. Hi Maria,
      We actually came back via a different route (Singing Pass) so we didn’t need a pass to come down. But on previous occasions, they have not checked passes on the way down, just on the way up.

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