The succulent smell of puff-pastry pours out the front door of the Blackbird Bakery on Frontier Street in Pemberton, BC as we ride by on our fully loaded touring bikes. Our tummies growl at the thought of not stuffing our faces with a freshly baked pain au chocolat and at least one roll of sweet cinnamon-swirled goodness before taking to the trail.
The second that one of us gives in to the tasty temptation of baked goods, the other is sure to follow suit. “We could use the fuel,” we justify to each other, twisting our rubber arms. “It’s a big effort ahead.”
Today, our mission is to bikepack the Sea-to-Sky Trail, an in-progress network of west coast bike trails and old dirt roads that is currently linked with short spurts of paved highway connections until the master plan has been accomplished.
Eventually, the 180 kilometres of existing and proposed trail will be seamlessly connected from the sky-piercing, snow capped mountains at the north end of the Sea-to-Sky corridor in D’arcy, along British Columbia’s undulating wet coast through Whistler and down into the southside of Squamish where the river runs thick with pink Pacific Salmon from the Strait of Georgia.
Having just screamed down the Duffy Lake Climb from up and over in Lillooet, we’ve missed the 65 kilometre section connecting D’arcy south to Pemberton. Thus, our Sea-to-Sky bikepacking adventure will start south of Pemby as we head up, over and through the Nairn Falls Provincial Park on the Nairn Falls Trail. But first, pastries.
Passed Nairn, we’re booted back onto the pave for some ups and downs along the famed Highway 99. We ended up missing the initial turn off onto the trailhead, which I believe happens nead the Shadow Lake Interpretive Centre, which meant a few rpms of downhill descent along the paved shoulder of the road.
At Riverside Drive we finally connected to a section of trail that passed through Wedgewoods Whistler, a new ooo-la-la housing development on the north end of town. We dipped down onto a dirt road alongside the honestly named Green River and found ourselves at home for the night on the side of Wedge Creek, nestled atop a nice pile of soft sand and smooth river rocks.
By 6:30 in the morning, we’re climbing way, way, way up a beautiful bike track, first on a double wide service road, then along some dreamy singletrack, then straight up some steeps, then switchbacking a series of meticulously built bermed corners, carrying on to a most stunning scenic lookout above Green Lake. Signage for the trail was impeccable.
We had risen early with great anticipation for the Sea-to-Sky section through Whistler and it did not disappoint. It felt like we had the entire forest to ourselves, seeing only two other cyclists climbing up some amazingly named trail like, “Why Johnny Can’t Read.”
We giggled like school girls as we whirled our way down, around and towards town along the Siwash Trail to Tommy Moore Trail connecting to the fun, flowy likes of Molly Hogan before connecting with Cedar Way and finally, the long, lusty likes of the Lost Lake Trail.
Seamlessly wheeling our way right into Whistler Village, we went head first into a half hour lineup for more puff pastries at Purebread. Clearly, our sugar monster from yesterday’s treat yo’self “special occasion” was fired right back up on all cylinders. D’ough!
Our hats off to the hardworking hearts and hands that have connected the trail through the village of Whistler and beyond, it is no joke. In fact, it’s one of the finest urban-integrated bikepacking routes we’ve ever cycled. Rolling past Alta Lake, Nita Lake and Alpha Lake, we had ample swimming options before feeling like we were finally on our way out of town, connecting to the super fun ups and downs that make up the Cheakamus section of the Sea-to-Sky Trail just past Bayly Park.
From here, the trail and the trees and the serenity of nature were second to none.
One of the more exciting and unexpected rewards about the cycling trip down along the turbulent turquoise waters of the Cheakamus River, just south of the Cal-Cheak Rec Site, was that we would quite literally cross paths with the human beings who were jumping off the aptly named Whistler Bungee Bridge.
Legs noosed around a rope about to send them crashing down towards the glacier fed water, a one hundred and sixty foot drop at tremendous velocity, we got to stand on one end of the bridge, watching each willing participant scream in terror mixed with glee as they sailed off the side. It was so exhilarating that even my palms were sweating. Finally, after each one had gone, we walked our bikes across the bridge and looked down to the raging river below. My heart raced.
From here, the trail twists and turns, down, down, down to Brandywine Falls, a stupendous seventy metre tall waterfall that gushes out over beautifully carved basalt walls, created by volcanic activity of the Late Pleistocene age. With a short, easy trail to the best viewpoint in the park, it’s no surprise that it was teaming with selfie sticks and day trippers.
South still, we arch the waters of Daisy Lake along the highway before tearing off onto another series of short trails. Back and forth, back and forth until we scoot ourselves over a long concrete barricade atop an incredible view over more of BC’s brilliant jade waters down in the distance.
We rip down a steep sidehill of a trail, forever grateful we are going down it and not up. It transitions from smooth and steep to loose and gravel laden as we barrel over baby head rocks, ripping and roaring all the way down until we reconnect with the beauty of the Cheakamus River and roll out the stunning Paradise Valley Road.
As we ride the high of completing the Sea-to-Sky Trail in Squamish, I spot a hip looking road cyclist and make my move. “Hey, where do we get a delicious craft beer around here?” He spares no seconds in pointing us up the road to the A-Frame Brewery where we devour a taster rack of fresh West Coast beer and the best damn pork taco this girl has ever had. (Thanks Luz Taco!)
- Thanks for coming along for the ride, did you know you can peep our Strava routes by clicking here.
- Also, note we rode the trail north to south, which is far more descending than the other way around, if you’re looking for a good grind, head south to north!