How to Hike Whistler’s High Note Trail

Last Updated: April 2021

High Note Trail Quick Guide

  • Location: Whistler, British Columbia
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6 miles (9.5 km)
  • Elevation Change: 1378ft (420m)
  • Time Needed: 3.5 hours
  • Crowdedness: Moderate
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Camping Allowed: No
  • Dogs/Pets Allowed:  No
  • Trail Head Location: Whistler Mountain Peak
  • Best Time to Go: June – September
high note trail

Garibaldi Provincial Park / Photo: Stephen Sullivan

About the High Note Trail

The alpine of Canada's most well-known mountain is not just for skiing.

Whistler Blackcomb, a world-class ski resort, is also known for the network of hiking trails it hosts throughout the summer months.

None of which are quite like the High Note Trail.

Along with the scenic views of the surrounding coastal mountain range and Garibaldi Provincial Park, this experience offers you a glimpse into the endearing lives of the locals that call this mountain townhome.

You will walk amongst the wildflowers, see professional mountain bikers make use of one of the world's most popular bike parks, encounter wildlife, and take in a spectacular view of the turquoise Cheakamus Lake that sits nestled in the valley below. 

The experience of hiking the High Note Trail begins well before you even reach the trailhead. 

Starting with a drive up the iconic and aptly named Sea to Sky highway to a ride on Whistler Mountain's Peak Chair, the whole endeavor is as memorable as you could hope for. 

Did I mention the hike begins in a section of the mountain referred to as "The Top of the World" by local outdoor enthusiasts?

Pretty cool! 

The High Note Trail is often referred to as the best hike located within the resort municipality of Whistler. 

Not surprising considering the views available on this 6-mile adventure. 

Although there are some ups and downs, the trail is generally easy in terms of elevation gain.

Beyond a few notable spots where you should watch your footing on some of the short (but steep) parts of the trail, it is not very technical. 

Just take your time and take it all in. 

High note trail

Looking into Garibaldi Provincial Park / Photo: Stephen Sullivan

How to Hike the High Note Trail

From Whistler Village, hop on the Whistler Village Gondola and start your ascent.

Make sure to keep a lookout for mountain bikers sending it off big jumps and, of course, the resident black bears out to soak up some sun. 

After roughly 11 minutes, you will arrive at the Roundhouse Lodge and are teased with views of mountains across the valley, all the while breathing in that fresh, cool alpine air. 

From the Roundhouse Lodge, you begin a slight descent towards the Peak Chair, which you will see roughly a quarter-mile away (about half a kilometer).

As you approach the chairlift, you might begin to appreciate why it is considered an iconic lift by the skiing and snowboarding community. 

You will quickly leave any fear of height behind as you reach the top of the chairlift. Straight ahead is the Black Tusk, this region's most distinct mountain peak.

Trust me; you will know it when you see it. This view sets the stage for how you will spend the next few hours exploring this invigorating terrain. 

Once you have taken in the view and checked your shoelaces, you are ready to begin the High Note Trail! 

The trailhead is located behind the Inukshuk that sits atop Whistler Mountain. Here's the location on google maps.

After a brief descent and while being mindful of mountain bikers that work their way down from the 'Top of the World,' you officially enter Garibaldi Provincial Park. 

Keep on trekking along the well-worn trail until your first pit stop at the Cheakamus Lake Lookout 1 mile (1.6 km) in.

From here, you get a bird's eye view of this gorgeous lake which is itself one of the region's more popular hikes. 

Shortly after the lookout, you will reach a junction that gives you the option to cut the trip short via the Half Note Trail (maybe you spent too long taking in the view at the lookout). 

As you continue along the ridge beyond the junction, be sure to stop and take in the view's snowy mountains and distant glaciers.

In August, the wildflowers are on full display as they paint the alpine yellow, purple, white, blue, and pink. 

Roughly halfway into the hike, you enter an area of the mountain named the Symphony Amphitheater.

At this point, you are now making your way back to where you started at the Roundhouse Lodge. 

Along this portion of the trail, you continue to be wowed with spectacular displays of wildflowers as you walk past both Symphony and Harmony Lake.

Continue on the trail until you reach Roundhouse Lodge. 

From here, make your way down to Whistler Village on the same gondola you took up. A myriad of options awaits where you can enjoy the well-earned cold beverage of your choosing.

high note trail

What You Will See When Hiking the High Note Trail

The Peak Chair is an excellent start to this hike.

You are lifted over gnarly and rugged terrain with startling drop-offs below. All the while being surrounded by a stunning view of the mountain range any way you look. 

Also, the relatively new Cloudraker Skybridge right beside the trailhead gives you some more photo ops before you have even stepped foot on the trail.  

Black Tusk is unmistakable, and anywhere that it is in sight makes for a good snack break. 

If you do not wish to stop at the popular Cheakamus Lake Lookout, just make sure you pack out what you pack in. 

As you hike along this trail, it is fun to envision how skiers and snowboards might make use of that terrain for their winter fun.

On your way up the gondola, you can keep an eye out for mountain bikers as they zip down the mountain bike trails underneath your feet.

If you are lucky, you can see somebody go big on one of the bike park's huge jumps. 

If you have the time and energy, the Peak-to-Peak gondola is always worth the trip once you make it back to Roundhouse Lodge. 

It holds the world record for the longest unsupported span for a lift of its kind at 1.88 miles (3.024km) as it takes you from Whistler peak to Blackcomb peak 1,427 ft (436 meters) above the valley floor.

Along the trail enjoy the fields of alpine wildflowers and keep an eye out for local wildlife such as marmots, bears, and eagles.

Best Photo Spots Along the High Note Trail

  • Whistler Summit
  • Cheakamus Lake Lookout
  • Cloudraker Skybridge 
high note trail

Approaching the Symphony Bowl section / Photo: Stephen Sullivan

How to Prepare for Hiking the High Note Trail

High Note Trail requires that you have access to the resort's Gondolas and chairlifts.

This comes in the form of a U$65 (CAD 83) day pass, as of writing in April 2021 (see website for current prices). This pass gives you access to the entire resort, all its trails, and chairlifts (including Peak to Peak) access.

Standard hike preparation is required. Check out our guide to the 10 Backcountry Essentials.

This means packing an adequate water supply, bear spray, a whistle, and some food. It is also good practice to let someone know your intended path.

That said, for the most part, you will remain in cellphone service throughout the hike. 

You must be mindful of the resort's operating hours as you do not want to have to make an unexpected hike down Whistler Mountain because you missed the last chair.

Operations typically close at 5:00 pm local time on weekdays and 6:00 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

What to Pack for Hiking the High Note Trail

  • Bear spray
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Trail map (available at guest services)
  • Food
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Water
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen

Need some new hiking gear?  Make sure to check out our latest Buying Guides & Reviews.

High Note Trail

Final Thoughts

The High Note Trail offers an extremely high reward for little effort as you bypass almost all the elevation gain on Whistler's gondola and chairlifts.

Take in views that are normally reserved for the mountaineers that are willing to climb an entire mountain.

Any way you slice it, this hike offers the best of Canadian alpine hiking, and the entire experience outweighs the cost of a day pass by a long shot. 

From the drive up, Peak Chair, the Skybridge, Peak-to-Peak Gondola, and the hike itself, you will be tired, but your heart full, after spending a day hiking the High Note Trail on Whistler Mountain.

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