Trip Report: Whistler Blackcomb

Buried in Whistler’s forests are countless kilometers of some of the best trails you’ll find anywhere in the world.

This is the land of roots, loam, and large granite slabs. There’s a lot of partially decomposed, woody debris sprinkled around large rock faces, and huge cedar forests clinging to rolling, irregular slopes. If non-stop tech is what you’re after, Whistler has it in spades. It’s why Whistler is one of the best places in the world to find out what a downhill or trail bike can really do.

Blister Gear Review's photos of Whistler Blackcomb
Blister reviewer Tom Collier, Whistler, British Columbia.

Other riding spots in North America have a reputation for smooth, flowy trails, and Whistler certainly has a few smooth jump trails like A-Line and Dirt Merchant. Flow can be found around here, but Whistler specializes in rooty, rocky awesomeness that makes full use of your suspension.

Having said that, the beauty of Whistler is that it has something for every mountain biker.

Whistler Bike Park

Take the Bike Park, for instance. If you want jumps, they have a bunch, and they come in every size from little practice jumps on Crank it Up, to huge senders on Crabapple.

If you want techy trails, they have those too–everything from the steep gnar of Goat’s Gully to the very moderate (and super fun) Karate Monkey.

Most bike parks have just a handful of trails, and usually only one or two are set at a given skill level (so if you’re looking for a blue-level tech trail, you might only have one or two options). Whistler has lots of trails of every kind, suitable for every skill level. Whoever you are, you can spend a week here without riding the same trails over and over.

Whistler’s bike park has two lifts that access around 3300 vertical feet (a bit over 1000 meters) of descending. (In case it isn’t obvious, that’s a lot. An average-paced lap from the top can easily take 30 minutes.)

And that’s not including the Top of the World trail, which bumps the total vert to 4900 feet (1493 meters). There you get a loooong descent that runs from the very top of Whistler, in the high alpine, down into the lower forests of the Bike Park. The views alone make the ride worth your while

review of Whistler Bike Park, Blister Gear Review
Blister’s Eric Melson and Noah Bodman, Top of the World, Whistler.

Whistler Valley Trails

And then there are the Whistler Valley trails, outside of the Bike Park. Once again, there’s a bit of something for everyone. You can go for a mellow spin around Lost Lake, suffer your way up to the Flank Trail on the other side of the valley, or hit any number of awesome descents that range from steep and fun, to steeper and funner.

We played on the smooth rock rolls of Korova Milk Bar; the steep loamy goodness of Wizard Burial Ground; and the high-speed chunder of Danimal. (As you can see, all the trails here have really boring, non-descript names.) In seven days of riding at Whistler, we sampled only a small number of the valley’s offerings.

When riding the valley trails, you’ll see fewer riders than on the trails at the resort, and the expert-level trails are rowdy, if riding improbably steep roots and rocks is your thing.

Also, new trails get built all the time; I bought a valley trail map for Whistler about six years ago, and it’s basically useless now because there are so many new, excellent trails that have been built. New maps are available, though even these maps can’t always keep up with the newest trail additions.

Recap of the Week: Weather, Lodging, & Bikes

In our time in Whistler we had some beautiful, sunny days and some cool, decidedly wet ones. A sunny and warm day is always nice, but a cool, rainy day can be great in the bike park—no crowds, no dust, and lots of greasy roots to make sure you’re paying attention.

We’ve been staying at Crystal Lodge, right in the heart of the village. It’s a 30-second walk to the lifts, and all the best options for food and drinks are right out the front door.

We’ve split our days pedaling around the valley trails in the morning, and lapping the resort’s bike park in the afternoon. We’ve flogged a bevy of gear from Specialized, Knolly, Rocky Mountain, Transition, GT, Trek, Santa Cruz, RaceFace, Dakine, Fly Racing, Troy Lee Designs, and some others.

And we’ve spent nearly as much time discussing the finer points of this equipment as we have riding it. For every bike we’ve tested, we’ve made sure that everyone gets some time on it and contributes his thoughts to the reviews we’ll be posting soon.

So stay tuned, but for now, check out this photo gallery from our time in Whistler.

(Click the first image to expand the gallery.)

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