Distance: 15 miles (25 km). Elevation gain: 1,870 ft. (570m). Duration: 2 days, 1 night. Alpine camping. Great views.

Russet Lake is a beautiful alpine lake at the base of Fissile Peak in the backcountry of Garibaldi Provincial Park. This trip is well suited for two nights but can be accomplished in a full day without a pack.

Your starting point is Whistler Village Gondola, then up the Peak 2 Peak Gondola to the summit. Head eastbound toward Flute Summit, across Musical Bumps. You’ll start seeing signs for Russet Lake straight away. Across Musical Bumps there are several ascents and descents totalling 1,870 ft (570m). For a different route out, you can take Singing Pass trail to the village. The signage can be confusing since they get damaged during the winter months so just make sure you’re headed southeast for the most part and look for Flute Summit, Singing Pass, and Russet Lake. If you're not familiar with the area or alpine hiking, the first route is your best bet.

For the best views, take your time in Flute Summit. From there you’ll see Black Tusk and Cheakamus Glacier. To time your trip with the mountain wildflowers, try to aim for late July or mid-August. If you’re brave enough, Russet Lake is great for swimming but stays cold year round. Seeing people on these trails is rare, especially in the middle of the week, but pack in a tent just in case the hut is fully occupied. The hut is located at the northeast corner of the lake and does not require reservations.

Bears, cougars, deer, marmots, and pika are in these hills. You’ll likely hear marmots whistling away during the summer months which is where Whistler got its name.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Backpacking Essentials
  • Water
  • Camera Equipment
  • Skis / Snowshoes (winter)
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Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Year Round
Features
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Good option to extend High Note trail

Hiked around August 1st. We started this hike at the beginning of High Note trail, reachable by the Village Gondola and then the connection chairlift. It made the loop a bit longer, but avoided backtracking the next day. Beautiful flowers and stunning scenery on this first part, would recommend this route in. The added portion to Flute Summit and then Russet Lake hike is easy to find, trail well marked. Some snow still on the way, but easy to cross. No special gear needed. The last ascent was tough on us, the trail climbs and descends a lot and we had not hiked for a couple of weeks... The campground was somehow packed when we got there, which is said to be unusual. There must have been over 20 tents plus a fully loaded cabin. There is one outhouse (with TP!), but otherwise the campsite is a bit rough; fully exposed to elements, lots of wind, not much shelter. Views are breathtaking, lake on one side and glacier on the other. Hiked back via the second part of High Note trail the next day, and then took the gondola over to Blackcomb mountain, which was a nice way to finish the day. Then the chairlift down from Blackcomb, again another way down than the one we came. We parked our car in parking lot 6 which was free, also overnight, and an short but steep extra 5 minutes hike, right between the Village Gondola and the Blackcomb Chairlift. Would recommend this hike, especially the wildflowers in July / August made it spectacular.

Fantastic hike, and the skies are unreal.


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