A few years ago I learned about a bike ride in Whistler called Lord of the Squirrels that promised a challenging but beautiful ride. And boy did it live up to expectations!
Lord of the Squirrels is the name given to a biking route that follows the trails Into the Mystic, On the Rocks for the uphill and then Lord of the Squirrels as you go back downhill.
It starts from the Cheakamus Crossing area of Whistler and goes through the Mt Sproatt forest into the alpine. Once you pass the tree line you’ll get amazing views out onto Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Biking Lord of the Squirrels isn’t a beginner’s ride. It’s strenuous and you’re in the backcountry so need to take it seriously. It was a great warm-up for our few days biking in the Chilcotins which followed this trip.
Here’s everything you need to know before biking Lord of the Squirrels in Whistler.
About Lord of the Squirrels biking trail in Whistler
The trails that make up this mountain biking route opened in 2017 by WORCA and really allowed people to get up into the alpine on the other side of the highway from Whistler Blackcomb resort.
There are many different places you can start this mountain bike adventure from. If you’re staying in Whistler you may decide to cycle from your accommodation and if you’re driving you can either park in the parking lot at Cheakamus Crossing as we did, or from Function Junction. There are likely other options I’m not aware of too.
Lord of the Squirrels loop map
Below is the route we took for Lord of the Squirrels.
Lord of the Squirrels trail stats
- Elevation Gain: Around 1,260m
- Distance: 26.5km
- Duration: 4-8 hours
- Difficulty: Hard. Yes, you’re ‘only’ on blue trails but don’t underestimate the elevation gain. You’re going to be going uphill for a good few hours and this will tire you out which may make coming down the blue Lord of the Squirrels trail harder than you’d expect. These trails are also more of a blue-black trail grading than an easy blue.
Biking Lord of the Squirrels
Here is a breakdown of the trails you’ll encounter on this mountain biking adventure.
Lord of the Squirrels Parking lot – Rainbow Sproatt Flank Trail – Don’t Look Back
- 3.6km, 400m elevation gain
The first 3.6km from the parking lot saw us cross the road and head into the forest. The trail got steep almost immediately and was interspersed with some flatter, more rideable sections. Before getting to the start of Into the Mystic, we’d already climbed 400m.
There was definitely some bike walking as we got warmed up and into the swing of things.
Into the Mystic
- 7.7km, 580m elevation gain
You’re welcomed onto the Into the Mystic trail with a wooden gateway and sign. There’s also a great viewpoint here where you can see how far you’ve already climbed and spot Black Tusk too!
Your climb continues and fortunately, it’s more interesting than just switchback after switchback.
Towards the end, you’ll notice the trees thinning out as you start to enter the beautiful alpine!
On the Rocks
- 3.5km, 150m elevation gain
On the Rocks starts with some more climbing until you reach the summit near Tonic Peak.
This was by far my favourite section of the trail. The alpine with beautiful meadows and views all around made the final climbing push much easier to bear!
As you navigate On The Rocks you’ll come to an area with several benches and the option to extend your bike ride by taking on the Rush Hour and/or Happy Hour trails.
We opted not to extend the ride and instead continued on On the Rocks and passed beautiful lakes, a few snow patches and a couple more picnic areas where we stopped for snack breaks.
Lord of the Squirrels
- Lord of the Squirrels: 4.3km, 479m decent
- Lower Lord of the Squirrels: 2.2km, 250m descent
Lord of the Squirrels goes from the alpine deep into the woods. While you’ll likely encounter several other bikers, we didn’t find it too busy.
I’m not the strongest rider so did get off my bike a few times to walk some of the steeper rock rolls and technical sections, but I still had fun!
There are a few viewpoints along the route that are great for a break and keep you off the trail so others can still continue down.
I’d say this downhill is similar to some of the harder blues on Fromme in Vancouver. But that’s just my opinion, I’m sure others will have other thoughts!
After Lord of the Squirrels proper we headed onto Lower Lord of the Squirrels before coming out at Into the Mystic. You can choose to ride this route back to where you joined it and then back to the parking lot, or enjoy some more of the downhill trails in this area which is what ended up doing!
- Upper: 1.2km, 94m
Chipmunk Rebellion was my favourite trail on the descent. It was a bit easier than Lord of the Squirrels with it being less steep and having fewer tech sections.
It’s much shorter and looped us back down to the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank trail we had started on.
What to pack for Lord of the Squirrels
This is an all-day adventure (unless you’re super fit) beside your bike and usual mountain biking gear, you’ll also want to pack:
- A hydration pack: at least 1 litre, ideally 2
- A water filter or treatment: we use sawyer squeeze filters and were able to top up our water from the lakes in the alpine
- Lots of snacks & lunch!
- Sun cream
- Bug Spray
- A lightweight, warm layer. It may still be chilly up top
- Bear spray
How hard is Lord of the Squirrels?
Though the trail itself is rated as a blue trail, you should consider it black once you’ve factored in the exertion you’ve put in to get there. It’s not an easy blue trail either and many refer to it as a blue/black trail.
Are e-bikes allowed on Lord of the Squirrels?
No e-bikes are not allowed on any trails above Flank e.g. (Lord of the Squirrels, Into the Mystic, On the Rocks).
Are there any Lord of the Squirrels shuttles?
No. You really have to earn your downhill. It’s worth it though!
Is Lord of the Squirrels Open?
Lord of the Squirrels is closed in the winter due to snow and usually opens sometime in mid-July. The best place to check whether it’s open is on the TrailForks reports which are updated by WORCa and other trail users..
The riding window for this trail is short as it often closes again in August due to grizzly bears. We rode this trail in late July 2021 when there was minimal snow left and fortunately no bear sightings!