Lord of the Squirrels (previously known as the Sproatt Alpine Multi-Use Trail)
WORCA’s trail crew broke ground in 2014 beginning the construction of an alpine trail which would descend from near the summit of Sproatt Mountain to the Flank Trail. Trail work continued in 2015 and was completed at the end of the summer 2016. The trail officially opened in 2017, it was named Lord of the Squirrels and is ready to ride! View the trail map, trail conditions on Trail Forks. WORCA strongly recommends reading the Rider Information Sheet found lower down this page before riding the trail.
The Alpine Trail Program was established by the RMOW in response to feedback from the community about a strong desire for more access and trail development in alpine areas around the Whistler Valley. The RMOW formed The Planning Working Group (TPWG) recognizing that while access to the alpine may come from within the RMOW, an increase of trails in the alpine would necessarily require that funds be directed to areas outside of the municipal boundary. The TPWG focused on the Rainbow Sproatt zone as the first area of interest and over the course of almost two years and developed a plan for an exciting network of non-motorized trails that would integrate with the existing trails and uses in this area. As part of the planning process, some areas within the Rainbow-Sproatt zone were designated as hiking-only trails with the main multi-use (hiking and mountain biking) area focused in a new alpine trail network around the summit of Sproatt and Gin peak.
Access to this area would come from a new machine-built ascent trail starting off the Flank trail south of Function called Into the Mystic which would be constructed by the RMOW. As partners in this project, WORCA committed to the construction of the preferred descent trail from the alpine area near the summit of Sproatt (1650m) to the Flank trail (700m). This trail was constructed by hand by paid WORCA trail builders and volunteers in the summer of 2014, 2015 and 2016. The trail will be designed as multi-use for hikers wanting a more direct ascent into the alpine and the preferred mountain biking descent from the proposed alpine trail network between Sproatt and Gin. The total descent would be an epic 1,000 metres of vertical constructed as an intermediate “Blue” level of difficulty. We are very, very excited and proud of this project that has resulted from a successful comprehensive planning project led by the RMOW.
Lead Trail Builder Dan Raymond tells the story of how the trail got its name:
A trail name can be serendipitous. It mostly comes along unexpected while constructing it. My first idea came before we broke ground: “First Rule of BIKE Club!” In light of the main reason for the creation of WORCA: access to trails. And funny: This trail is no secret, you’re supposed to talk about BIKE club.
Things evolved as the trail progressed up and we reached the pristine old growth forest. The fast, twisty style of the trail is a lot like 2 squirrels chasing each other. “Squirrel Chase!” But, that as a name, was missing some “je ne sais quoi”. I love a name with double-entendre or a pun.
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was always at the back of my mind: for the epic three year build, filled with countless challenges, monsters and heart stopping plot twists! Spoiler alert: the monsters were mosquitoes!
Then I met the “Alpha Squirrel”… While building a bridge next to a giant cedar, he would come to within a few feet of my running chainsaw to “bark” at me. At first, I found him to be cute and funny. After a few days, I was awed at his resolve: The trail would be named after him!
“Lord of the Squirrels!”
We became best friends.
Dan Raymond, WORCA Trail Builder
Whistler, BC – Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) is a non-profit mountain bike club with a ten-member board of directors that represents and serves a community of more than 1,800 members. By working with government, landowners and developers, WORCA continues to ensure mountain bike trail access while providing a wide range of other services to the mountain bike community.
WORCA is extremely happy to have completed the new alpine descent trail, Lord of the Squirrels, after 4 years of planning and 3 years of construction.
The idea of an Alpine trail network came about at the Trail Planning Working Group, hosted by the RMOW. The local recreation Officer for the Squamish Lil’wat Regional District recognized the need for a trail management plan for the Whistler area which was experiencing increased usage. Over the past 7 years there has been significant input from many stakeholders to make the Sproatt alpine trail network a reality. WORCA appreciates all the stakeholders and their participation in the process of bringing about the new trail.
One of the goals of WORCA, since it was founded 28 years ago, was to access the alpine on bikes. When this opportunity came up, there was strong support for the project amongst the members of WORCA. We have been part of creating the first public access recreational trail and trail management plan to the Alpine in the Whistler Valley that is open to biking.
The project cost a total of $202,000 plus approximately $8,000 worth of valuable volunteer hours. A great big thank you goes out to all the WORCA members, past and present, as much of the funding was raised through membership fees. We would also like to thank the American Friends of Whistler who added $25,000 in support over the years to achieve our goal. A further $48,000 was received from the National Trails Coalition, which is a Federal Trails Grant received during the first year of the project. Another big thank you goes to the RMOW for their annual contribution of $20,000 to the Lord of the Squirrels project during the 3 years of construction. To recognize the funding sources there has been signage created on the trail to display their logos. WORCA is happy to continue to work in partnership with the local municipal trail crew to maintain our local trail network and welcome recreational users to the Valley.
We invite you to ride your bike or hike the trails and enjoy the beautiful environment that we are lucky to have around us. We ask that all users respect the work that goes into the trail network: respect the environment, stay on the trails, and obey the local trail etiquette.
Jerome David, VP WORCA
PO Box 308, Whistler, BC V0N 1B0
The Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA) and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) are excited to welcome locals and visitors alike to enjoy our new alpine mountain biking and hiking trail network on Mount Sproatt. This new trail system represents 5 years of planning and building work, with much more planned over the long term. This information sheet is meant to help answer questions and prepare riders for what to expect to safely complete this epic backcountry ride.
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS RIDE!
For many intermediate riders, this route is potentially the longest distance, largest elevation gain, and most sustained descending that you’re likely to have experienced in your riding life. If you are not experienced in remote backcountry mountain biking, please take the time to adequately train your body, and prepare your bike, for a ride of this magnitude. Less experienced riders should treat this ride as a long term goal to achieve over a season rather than a bucket list item to get done as soon as possible. This ride is something to train for and work towards to ensure that your training will set you up to successfully and safely finish the ride, while being able to really enjoy the riding experience and environment.
Whistler Trail Rating – Blue
“Challenging riding with steep slopes and/or obstacles, possibly on narrow trail with poor traction. Requires riding experience”
Into the Mystic dist/elv gain/avg grade – 8.6km/+928m/7.5%
On the Rocks dist/elv gain/avg grade – 3.6km/+194m/
Lord of the Squirrels dist/elv gain loss/avg grade – 6.9km/+207mUp -906mDown/-10%
Time – 3 to 10 hours from valley bottom, return.
Exertion/Physicality Rating – Hard
Long distances, large elevation gains, and sustained climbing with many steep sections. The climb is machine built, and wide enough in many places for passing or riding beside friends and chatting. Smooth, but not without frequent steep pitches that get the heart rate up. The descent travels through varied terrain from the rocky open, alpine terrain, to the forested old growth featuring roots, rocks and some rock slabs with options around them. Keep your eyes on the trail while riding, with plenty of look outs, there are lots of opportunities to stop and rest and shake out the hands while taking in the amazing views.
Exposure Rating – High
Mount Sproatt may seem close to civilization, but this ride is a true backcountry experience and needs to be treated with the respect it deserves as it is remote with few options for rescue or bailout. Riders should treat this endeavour as any other remote ride and come well prepared for any and all eventualities as this is a big mountain with alpine terrain subject to fast changing weather conditions. It is not uncommon for Mount Sproatt to become quickly engulfed in fast moving cloud and fog and/or rain, reducing the temperature and visibility with little warning. A night out without the proper safety gear or spare clothing, could be extremely uncomfortable, or even deadly. These dangers can be more compounded later in the season when colder temperatures and earlier darkness can catch people out. Do not discount the importance of extra clothing, gloves, and a waterproof jacket.
Users will experience a full range of coastal mountain geography and topography when completing this ride. From the valleys lower elevation denser 2nd growth forest, the mid-elevation towering old growth Fir, Hemlock, and Cedar, to the open meadows and bluffy rocky sub-alpine and alpine terrain on the top of Mount Sproatt, you will experience it all.
Into the Mystic is a machine built climbing primary trail that winds its way, sometimes rather steeply, up the mountain. While it does features short flat or slightly downhill sections to recover slightly, the fact remains that it’s still ~12 km (7.5 miles) of distance and 1110 m (3608 ft) of climbing.
On the Rocks is a similar, two-way, machine built trail that winds its way through the alpine on top of Mount Sproatt, it’s 3.6 km (2.2 miles) long with ~200 m (656 feet) of climbing.
Lord of the Squirrels is a hand built descent primary trail approximately 7 km (4.3 miles) long, with 200 m (656 feet) of climbing along the way, while descending 900 m (2952 feet). The descent features a wide variety of terrain and features including open alpine areas, rock slabs, and many sections with roots and rocks. During dry conditions you should expect loose rocks and dust with challenging traction.
A well-maintained cross country/all-mountain bike with front suspension and disc brakes is strongly recommended. Helmet, gloves, eye protection, sturdy footwear should also be a priority. Be sure to also have a well-stocked backpack with at least 3l of water, food, energy gels, in addition to spare parts for repairs and a full first aid kit including a head lamp and whistle. A spare jersey and/or gloves and jacket should also be a part of your kit for fast changing alpine weather.
Riders must ride accordingly and well within their limits as this is a remote area with limited access for rescue. Ride with a trusted group, wait for your partners, be prepared to self-rescue. While we all appreciate Whistler Search and Rescue for the amazing work they do taking care of us when we need it most, they should only be called in the most serious of cases. Be prepared, ride smart, take your time not chances. We want everyone to make it back to the bottom in one piece.
- Familiarise yourself with WORCA’s Trail Etiquette Guide
- Pack It In – Pack It Out.
- Take a photo if you need a memento of your adventure.
- Stay on the trail, don’t cut corners, it takes a long time for vegetation to grow back.
- Obey signs and don’t destroy the environment you are there to enjoy.
- Report vandalism.
Be considerate of the environment and local trail management plans. If you ride in the wet, ride trails that are appropriate. Consider the impact of riding in wet and rainy conditions.
In early season during snowmelt or in October once the fall rain comes certain areas may be deemed closed due to impact and erosion. The erosion problem arises when the ground is supersaturated, this is a time when the water content is very high – it often only takes a few days to dry and it’s good to go. During spring melt most of the snow needs to be gone to reach this drying trend or you will damage the trail dramatically. Be patient.
In Alpine terrain, if a trail is open with a few snow patches, it is very important to stay on the snow on the trail. Braiding a new trail causes extensive damage to an area. The newly developed Sproatt network, for example, will only be opened once the snow is gone in the Alpine (once we can see the trail and stick to it). Other areas in the valley may be closed by builders because considerable snow melt keeps the trail supersaturated.
Please refer to the Whistler region on Trailforks.com for up to date conditions reporting.
Rainbow Park is the primary staging area on the Westside and features washrooms, water fountains, and in the summer, swimming and food concessions. Primary access to Into the Mystic is via Hot Dog Alley, Scotia Creek, Sirloin/Darwin’s, and the Flank trail. Please avoid parking in the Stonebridge subdivision.
Function Junction staging out of the Interpretive Forest parking lot adjacent to the stop lights. Function Junction features many shops and options for food and beverage. Access to Into the Mystic is via the South Flank.
WORCA is proud of its comprehensive and successful trail building and maintenance program, if you ride a trail in the Whistler area and love it, consider donating some Trail Karma dollars via Trail Forks. All funds donated are sent directly to the organisation responsible for maintaining the trail, WORCA invests these dollars back into the trail network. WORCA also offers a Trail Supporter option with its annual memberships and hosts Trail Days for volunteers to attend.
To celebrate the opening of Lord of the Squirrels (LOTS), WORCA launched the Lord of the Squirrels T-Shirts for sale! Thanks to: Comor, Fanatyko, Whistler Village Sports, Whistler Bike Co, Whistler Sports Rentals, and Arbutus Routes for their support in retailing the new Lord of the Squirrels fundraising shirt for future alpine maintenance and development. For every shirts old, almost $10 goes back to WORCA for ongoing alpine trail support. The shirts were a far bigger success than expected and are sold out for 2017. T-shirt sales will commence again in 2018.
WORCA member, Petr Basel completed this great video for the BC Hydro Championship Program, thank you Petr.
Trail Volunteer Weekend July 23-24, 2016
LOTS Grand Opening Ride & Party Sept 2, 2017
Thanks to: Hammer Coffee, Zog’s, Whistler Brewing Co., North Shore Bike Shop, Andrea Moore, and Norco Bicycles/Live to Play Sports for their generous donation of $2,000 in bike parts for prizing at the LOTS launch party.
American Friends of Whistler awards WORCA $20,000
We are pleased to announce that the American Friends of Whistler (AFOW) have donated to WORCA $20,000 to be used towards the Sproatt Alpine Trail project. WORCA is responsible for the construction of the “Alpine Dream Trail”, an 8 km multi-use trail that provides the preferred decent for mountain bikers between the alpine area near the summit of Sproatt and the Flank Trail. We thank the AFOW for their support and financial contribution towards this recreational trail network development.
National Trails Coalition awards WORCA $48,000
Thanks to the efforts put forth by key WORCA member volunteers, we are happy to announce that our application to the National Trails Coalition has been approved for a contribution of $48,000. The funding administered under the National Trails Infrastructure Program, is to be used towards the completion of the Sproatt Alpine Trail project.
Resort Municipality of Whistler
Blackcomb Helicopters have kindly provided discounted transportation of materials to the trail site. This assistance is much appreciated and provides the trails team with the supplies they require to focus on trail building.
Sabre Rentals have generously donated tools and provided discounted equipment for the Trials team and volunteers making the volunteer weekends possible as well ensuring that the Trails Team can remain onsite for days at a time not have to shuttle tools back and forth to the valley.