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Ancient Cedars is a nice, easy/moderate 2.5 kilometre(1.6 mile) hiking trail on the far side of Cougar Mountain, just 10.8 kilometres north of Whistler Village . A small, untouched grove of huge western red-cedars hidden high up in the wilderness. Often overlooked by hikers, certainly there are other groves of massive cedars found in other Whistler area hikes. If you hike the short 3k trail to Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars.
The Wedgemount Lake trail across the valley also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the north end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the Ancient Cedars giants. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. Most of these giants stretch toward the sky, but some lay along the forest floor giving you an even closer grasp of their size. If you bring kids along, they will disappear into the endless, natural playground.
The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5k up a bumpy logging road. As logging roads go it is not bad. If you are driving a car you should be OK as long as you take it slow. The Ancient Cedars trail is well marked and well worn and only gradually uphill for the 2.5k hike, trailhead to ancient forest. At the Ancient Cedars forest there is a short circle trail that takes you throughout the giants then leads you back to the main trail for the return journey.
The whole trail takes you through the tranquil and remote forest that hides up on the far side of Cougar Mountain. Cougar Mountain is home to TAG and Superfly Ziplines. The rows of atv's you will pass while driving up the Cougar Mountain Forest Service Road will belong to TAG. Superfly Ziplines is worth a look here too as they boast the "Longest, highest, fastest ziplines in Canada."
The whole 5.1 kilometre(3.2 mile) Ancient Cedars roundtrip should take you less than three or four hours. Unlike most other Whistler hiking trails, Ancient Cedars is dog friendly. Unfortunately snow makes the road undrivable much of the year, so you can only reliably get up there around mid June to early to mid November. The main attraction to the Ancient Cedars trail is of course the monster cedars at the end of the trail. The trail itself is scenic and at least a couple times the forest opens up to some great views of the Soo Valley and snow capped mountains beyond. With the trail improvements in late 2013, you will now find more trail signs and kilometre markers. Some interpretive information about the beautiful forest around and above you, as well as some strategically placed benches to sit and appreciate the grandeur of the trees.
The obvious draw of Ancient Cedars trail tends to make hikers overlook the connecting trail to Showh Lakes. After hiking to Ancient Cedars, halfway along the trail take the connecting trail to Showh Lakes(sometimes known as Showh Lake and Cougar Lake). The trail runs along the left side of the larger lake on your right and then veers left, crosses a creek and circles around the smaller lake on your left where it connects with the logging road and Showh Lakes parking area. You can either follow the road back to your car at the Ancient Cedars trailhead or continue rounding this smaller Showh Lake and rejoin the main trail you came in on and hike back to your car. Showh Lakes are very remote and wild feeling lakes which certainly ads to their draw as fishing lakes. They are stocked with trout every year and your average summer day will find a couple fly fishermen out on the water floating inside those funny little one-man rubber float tubes having a great time catching lots of fish. Swimming is not the best at Showh Lakes, however, the wonderful remote setting more than makes up for the lack of inviting beach.
Ancient Cedars is great to visit in the spring and fall months as you rarely see people and never feel mosquitos. The problem is the trailhead is up a long way into the mountains and snow at this elevation persists until April and sometimes May. Snow, along with the steep access road make driving to the trailhead impossible for most cars until it disappears. Summer is great for seeing Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes in particular. If you have a 4x4, you can drive right to the shores of Showh Lakes and crack a beer with little chance of humanity disturbing you. If you don't have a 4x4, you can make it to a short walk to the lakes and if you have some sort of inflatable boat or canoe, you will find yourself in paradise. Floating in a mirror under a blue sky, surrounded by deep and wild forest.