Some big news came from Whistler Blackcomb recently, which bike park riders will be pretty stoked to hear about. With over 60kms of existing trails the Whistler Bike Park easily dwarfs other bike parks in North America already, but instead of leaning on their shovels the resort has ambitious plans to open a whole new Upper Creekside Zone on Whistler Mountain and add another 50kms of trails over the next few years.
The Bike Park expansion is part of a massive development plan the resort is calling the Renaissance. This plan includes a long list of new facilities including an indoor waterpark, indoor action sports training center, new daylodges, and much more. Bikerumor spoke to Whistler Blackcomb’s VP of Business Development Rob McSkimming to get the inside scoop on the overall plan for the Bike Park expansion, the timeline for construction and their vision for the new Creekside Zone…
After the Creekside Zone opened last year, it was a safe bet to guess more trails would be coming into that area. Not only does WB intend to fill up this terrain (which will now be known as the Lower Creekside Zone) with more runs, they’re also planning to open a whole new Upper Creekside Zone at higher elevation on the mountain’s Westside flank.
If you’re familiar with Whistler’s municipal trail network, you might recognize that there are existing trails in that area. Just as the Lower Creekside Zone absorbed B.C. Trail last year (which had been a public access trail for many years) a few of Whistler’s most infamous and challenging descents like Ride Don’t Slide, Kashmir and Khyber’s Pass may also eventually become part of the Whistler Bike Park. Surely some locals will groan about increased traffic, but on the upside this means those runs would be patrolled and maintained by professional trail crews.
While the terrain above Creekside is fairly steep, WB plans to provide a balance of green, blue and black diamond trails in the new zones. A beginner level machine-built trail will snake through the area forming a main route, and eventually most of the new trails will be intermediate, blue square runs.
The bulk of the new trails will be in the Creekside Zones, but there are plans for some construction elsewhere in the park and for more connecting routes between Creekside and the Fitz and Garbanzo Zones. McSkimming specifically mentioned a potential route from the bridge on Highway 86 (accessible from Garbanzo trails) that leads to Creekside, and the possibility of another traverse even higher up the hill.
Until then the only access to the Upper Creekside Zone would be from the Peak Chair, via Top of the World. Currently there are daily limits on how many riders can access Top of the World, but as the Creekside Zones expand the resort is considering increasing that limit.
“We’ll probably add more bike carriers (to Peak Chair)…I would imagine that we’d look at expanding the number there and just see how it goes from a trail maintenance standpoint, and lift capacity standpoint,” says McSkimming. The resort also hasn’t ruled out adding more trails coming down from Whistler’s peak. “Whether it’s another full trail or some options…I think both are things we’d think about down the road.”
Looking further into the future, WB has announced the possibility of more chair lifts appearing on the Westside as well, but this is likely several years off at least.
Finally, riders can also expect to see more bike-specific facilities appearing at the Creekside base, such as the air pumps, tire/tube disposal bins and tool benches found in the main village. Whistler Blackcomb plans to continue offering bike rental and repair services from their Creekside Can-Ski store.
It’s important to note that these developments all depend upon securing approvals from the provincial government and local First Nations bands. It’s tough to nail down a timeline for when construction will begin, but McSkimming says Whistler Blackcomb has already flagged a handful of new trails and they’re ready to go as soon as they get the green light.
“As soon as we get those approvals there’s five trails that we’d like to get built,” says McSkimming. “At this point we’re not really sure what the time frame is on that.”
For more information on the Whistler Bike Park expansion and the overall Renaissance development plan, click here.