Couple holding hands on mountain

Best Fall Hikes in the Sea to Sky

Summer in British Columbia is always over too soon, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of the transition season before winter arrives. The fall can be bittersweet; lake dipping temperatures are gone, replaced by toques and puffy jackets. Sunsets hide behind cloud cover before heading to bed early. Crowds thin out to a trickle as school resumes. While weather can be cold and sometimes wet, beautiful bug-free sunny days do make an appearance. So with that in mind, gear up for hiking this month and hit the trails. Here are a few of our favourite fall hikes in Whistler, Squamish and the Sea to Sky Corridor.

For more information on our guided hikes, head over to our Whistler/Squamish Hiking and Backpacking page.

whistler hiking fall
Decker Loop Trail on Blackcomb with views of Fissile Mountain

Whistler Blackcomb Alpine

An express lift into alpine terrain opens up dozens of options for hiking for all levels of fitness. Stroll the Top of the World zone along the Cloudraker Skybridge or set out for the full-day High Note trail that traverses picturesque ridges of Whistler Mountain. On the Blackcomb side, the Overlord Trail and Decker Loop offer startling views of the alpine peaks and glaciers of the Coast Mountains while you hike over rugged volcanic boulder fields and skirt alpine lakes. Access does rely on the Whistler Village and Peak 2 Peak Gondolas which close in early October, so make sure to check this hike off your list soon.

whistler hiking fall
Brandywine Falls are 70m high and an easy fall hike in the Sea to Sky

Brandywine Falls Provincial Park

Located off Highway 99 about 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls is one of the most picturesque geological attractions in the Sea to Sky Corridor. The viewing platforms for the 70m-high waterfall and nearby Daisy Lake are only about 15 minutes walk from the trailhead, but if you are looking for a longer hike you can extend the hike up to Lava Lake. This 2.7-km loop has a short, steep pitch to begin with but quickly tapers off to a low-angle trail through Douglas Firs, thick hemlock and a red cedar forest before reaching the lake areas at the north end of the park. There’s no camping available but there are day use areas. A perfect hike on your way to or from Whistler if you are short on time.

whistler hiking fall
Panoramic views from Al’s Habrich Trail, accessed from the Sea to Sky Gondola

Al’s Habrich Trail

The flagship backcountry hiking trail of the Sea to Sky Gondola, this sub-alpine hike offers sweeping views of Howe Sound, Skypilot Mountain and the peak of Habrich itself. Along the trail, you can expect old growth forest, ancient glacial formations, creeks and waterfalls. This is an advanced hiking trail that traverses some steep granite outcroppings and boulder fields, so don’t be afraid to hire a guide if you are unsure about the route or the risks. Finishing this full-day excursion at back at the Sea to Sky Gondola’s Summit Lodge is a reward in itself.

whistler hiking fall
Alpine views from the north end of Rainbow Lake

Rainbow Lake

One of the Whistler classics, the Rainbow Lake Trail climbs the west side of the Whistler valley all the way up to the alpine. It’s a six-hour roundtrip but you’ll want to leave a bit of extra time to enjoy the views and solitude. The trail isn’t too steep or technical but does climb a full 850m of vertical, so hikers should have a good level of fitness. There’s no camping at Rainbow Lake, but you can extend your hike up to Hanging Lake (3km further) or Madely Lake (9km) if you want to sleep under the stars. This hike passes through Whistler’s watershed for drinking water, so make sure to leave the dog at home.

whistler hiking fall
Camping at Wedgemount Lake

Wedgemount Lake Trail

Another Whistler staple, Wedgemount Lake Trail is a local benchmark for steep hikes into the alpine. The trail is physically taxing both uphill and downhill, particularly under the weight of an overnight backpack. Trekking poles will save your knees on the descent.  Once you power through the climb and arrive in the alpine you can either stay in the BC Parks hut, camp on one of the 20 tent pads or return back down. As always, make sure to bring sufficient food, water and a headlamp in case you run out of daylight at this time of year. For the aspiring mountaineers, Wedge Mountain is an excellent climb but requires glacier travel and technical climbing equipment and skills.

Written by: Vince Shuley

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