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Hiking the High-Note Trail to Russet Lake – Whistler Hiking Guide & Map

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

If you’re looking for the best marked day hiking adventure in Whistler, congratulations, You’ve Found It.

Get ready for twenty three straight kilometres of alpine hiking bliss showcasing the Garibaldi Provincial Parks epic peaks, enormous glaciers, alpine meadows and alpine lakes.

The High Note trail by itself is simply amazing, but, the fun doesn’t stop there. By extending your hike over the musical bumps to Russet lake you can make the hiking adventure even more epic! There are a number of ways you can attack this trail but the best is to start at the top of the legendary Peak Chair on Whistler Mountain, and enjoy all 23km of this beautiful alpine paradise.

This trail is great for hikers of all skill levels and if you don’t want to extend the trail over the musical bumps to Russet Lake you can stop before or at the Flute Summit and loop back to the Rendezvous making for an extremely enjoyable 10km round trip.

So what are you waiting for. It’s time to read this post and get hiking!

 

Backcountry Basics

 

Directions and Parking

Whistler is located about 1 ½ hours North drive from Vancouver. The best option for parking in the summer is in Lot 4. I believe they recently increased the price to $8 for 24 hours. From the parking lot you can walk right up to the gondola or the singing pass trail.

 

Lift Passes

The good news, those with Whistler season passes from the previous winter can ride up the gondola for free.

The bad news. If you don’t have a pass you’ll have to shell out some coin for a gondola ride up. I think it is somewhere in the range of $80 CAD, but, if it’s a clear day and you’ve never seen Whistler, this could be worth it.

Don’t fret if you don’t feel like paying, hiking should be free! Whistler lets people ride down the Gondola for free if you manage to get up the hill! So my recommendation, if you’re feeling energetic is to begin your hike up singing pass, check out Russet Lake and then head up to Peak Chair. You’ll be able to ride down Peak chair and the Gondola without a lift ticket!

 

 

Route Breakdown Options

Whistler Summit to Russet Lake via High Note Trail & Musical Bumps

Distance (Round Trip)23km
Elevation Gain 1,269
Time (Round Trip)6-7 hours
Dogs no
Camping yes (russet lake reservation required)
Season July-Sep
Difficulty Intermediate/Difficult
Remoteness Well Trafficked
Highest Point2,181m

 

High Note Trail from Whistler Summit (top of peak chair)

Distance (Round Trip)9km
Elevation Gain 317m
Time (Round Trip)4-5 hours
Dogs no
Camping no
Season July-Sep
Difficulty Intermediate
Remoteness Well Trafficked
Highest Point2,181m

 

Singing Pass to Russet Lake to Whistler Summit via High Note Trail

Distance (Round Trip)25.7km
Elevation Gain 2,198m
Time (Round Trip)7-8 hours
Dogs no
Camping yes (Russet lake reservation only)
Season July-Sep
Difficulty Difficult
Remoteness Well Trafficked
Highest Point2,181m

 

Our Route

We were feeling pretty enthusiastic so we rode the first Gondola up from the Whistler base. Upon arriving at the Roundhouse we found out the Peak Chair wasn’t open for another hour. Instead of having a coffee, we decided to extend the mission, add a few hundred meters of elevation and hike by foot to connect with the high note trail. I was thrilled to take the detour because I was able to see some of my favourite ski runs without any snow!

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

Although it added some extra elevation gain, it meant that we were the first hikers on the high note trail and we didn’t run into anyone else until we hit the musical bumps.

The top of the whistler summit is always a highlight and the trail starts off with a bang following the rocky trail down the high alpine with panoramic views of Garibaldi Provincial park.

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

About 2km down the trail you are going to be rewarded with a spectacular view of Cheakamus lake.

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

A few steps later there is a fun bridge feature that you get to cross over! Just North up the mountainside is the Piccolo Summit which is the top of the Symphony Express chair in the winter.

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

At the 4.2km mark you will reach the start of the Musical Bumps trail. For those who want a quicker hike this is where you can loop back to the roundhouse. However, if you are feeling energetic, at the very least, I would recommend hiking up to the flute summit. It only tacks on an extra 200m and you will be rewarded with gorgeous views of the Flute Bowl, Symphony Amphitheatre, Garibaldi Park, Musical Bumps and Fissile Mountain.

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

The Musical Bumps trail continues from the Flute Summit all the way to Russet Lake and the Kees & Claire hut. If you’re a lover of alpine meadows like me, this is where the hike becomes truly exceptional. The grass looks perfectly manicured, the alpine flowers are bountiful, and spots of snow look like Zebra stripes on Fissile’s waist.

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

Enjoy the dips and climbs and make sure to stare out at the Cheakamus glacier to the South!

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

As you tackle the final climb you will see the the Kee’s and Claire hut! This brand new hut is absolutely amazing so make sure you take a peek in the windows.

Kee's & Claire Hut Whistler, BC

Kee's & Claire Hut Whistler, BC

If it’s a hot day hike on down to Russet Lake and go for a quick alpine dip! For those spending the night, the campsite is located on the North Side of the lake on Russet Creek!

Russet Lake Whistler BC Hike

Russet Lake Whistler BC Hike

Once you’ve dried off follow your steps back until you arrive at the first conjunction with the High Note Trail between the Flute & Piccilo summits.

Musical Bumps, High Note Trail, Russet Lake Hike

Follow signs back to the Rendezvouz lodge. The fun isn’t quite over, the meadows and creeks beneath the Symphony and Harmony chair are gorgeous! There is also even a small lake beneath the Harmony cliffs called Harmony Lake, who knew.

Harmony Lake, Whistler BC

The final climb to the Roundhouse feels long and if you’re not the terminator your body will probably be feeling it.

When you arrive back treat yourself to a pint at the lodge or in the village!

Let me know if you have any Q’s in the comments?

Happy Hiking.

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