The phenomenal rise in the popularity of mountain biking in and around the resort sees an estimated 100,000 visitors annually coming to Whistler specifically to take to two wheels.
The resort’s popularity is not all down to terrain and happy accident. It always did have hundreds of free trails, with endless options for single-track and double-track trails in and around the valley, plus around 200km of lift-serviced trails, the last factor vital: for there’s nothing better than having a ski lift do all the hard work of carrying your bike up the mountain and letting gravity do the work – and provide the pleasure – coming down. What has made a big difference, however, is the deservedly celebrated Whistler Mountain Bike Park (t 1 800 766 0449, w bike.whistlerblackcomb.com; daily mid-May to early or mid-Oct, 10am–5pm, plus 5–8pm on some lifts mid-June to early Sept, depending on the light). This includes those 200km of lift-serviced trails, five skill centres and parks, four access lifts (Whistler Gondola, Fitzsimmons, Peak Chair and Garbanzo), expert staff on site, banked cruisers and dirt trails through canopied forest, a BikerCross park (fun to watch even if you don’t take part), and self-guided rides over 1507m vertical trails. The bike park also offers complimentary orientation tours for newcomers.
It’ll cost you $57 for a day-pass in high season, purchase in advance online to get the best deal (from mid-June), $50 for seniors and youths 13–18, and approximately $35 for children ages 5–12; children under 12 must be accompanied by adults. Multi-day passes are also available. These prices cover riding and access to the lifts from 10am–8pm. You can also rent a high-quality “Park” bike from $90 for half a day (t 1 800 766 0449, w bike.whistlerblackcomb.com) from the park’s G1 outlet (beside the Whistler Gondola), or $125 for the whole day. Kids’ downhill bike rentals cost approximately $60/90. Helmets are included and you can rent extra pieces of body armour (recommended) at an additional cost.
You can buy lift-only passes, rent equipment and do your own thing by visiting other rental outfits such as Cross Country Connection (t 604 905 0071, w crosscountryconnection.ca), which has bikes from $12 per hour, and also offers tours and lessons. If you want to research routes and further information, then w whistler.ca/trails is an excellent resource, as well as downloadable Apps such as TrailMapps Whistler.
If you’re a beginner, book Bike School 101 (w bike.whistlerblackcomb.com), which offers two-hour clinics to introduce newbies to elementary downhill bike control, technique and body position. Lessons are approximately $119 and include lift ticket, rental, helmet and pads.