PEMBERTON Gateway to Adventure
Nestled in a fertile, verdant valley tightly surrounded by incredible mountain peaks, the community
of Pemberton is a hidden gem in the heart
of the Coast Mountains. Located just 25
minutes north of Whistler, Pemberton
(known to locals as Spud Valley) enjoys
a slightly warmer and sunnier climate.
Offering favourable weather and a large
span of level ground, the valley has become
a prime agricultural zone.
Pemberton is world famous for its virus-free seed potatoes, which have been
protected by law since the designation
of the Pemberton Certified Seed Potato
Control Area in 1949. Pemberton’s farmers
produce about 8,000 tonnes of potatoes
each year, and distribute them to growers in
Washington, Oregon, California, Alberta,
New Brunswick and Manitoba.
Aside from spuds, many other crops flourish
in Pemberton’s soil. Several local farms sell
their products from roadside stands or on-site stores, and there’s no better way to get
fresh, healthful food than to receive it right
from the grower’s own hands.
Though farmers have inhabited the
Pemberton Meadows since the turn of
the century, the Village was only officially
incorporated in 1956. With hitching
posts that still stand outside several local
businesses, the rustic village carries an
Old West aesthetic. It seems like all of
Pemberton’s 2,574 residents know each
other in this tight-knit, friendly community.
Majestic, 2,591-metre ( 8,500-foot) Mount
Currie stands at the foot of the town,
and its sculpted face is visible from nearly
everywhere in the valley. Its rocky alpine is
surely a memory you’ll hold onto, and yes, it
gets skied in the winter (experts only)!
Make sure to bring your camera.
Outdoor recreation is the heart and soul of
Pemberton. Whether it’s hiking, mountain
biking, or simply soaking up the sun beside
a lake, a substantial number of Pemby locals
came here specifically because of the terrain’s
many opportunities for adventure. B.C.’s
rugged backcountry is just steps away in any
direction, begging to be explored.
For serious hikers who want to see Mount
Currie’s peaks up close, the Pemberton
Valley Trails Association (PV TA)
constructed a trail that stretches from
the valley floor all the way to the rocky
alpine. Climbing the southwest side of
the mountain, the trail is 8. 9 kilometres in
length and finishes just 600 metres below
Mount Currie’s summit. For many hikers,
a lookout point at the 6. 1 km mark will
serve as the trail’s “summit,” rewarding
your efforts with breathtaking views over
the Pemberton Valley from an elevation
of 1,737 metres. If reaching the lookout
sounds too challenging, this route is still
well worth exploring with great views
starting about an hour from the trailhead.
Pemberton’s extensive network of cross-country mountain bike trails is world
class, and enjoyed by a vast number of the
locals who all seem to own a bike, or two!
For serious riders, the Nimby Fifty cross-country mountain bike race draws a few
hundred competitors to test themselves on
Pemberton’s challenging trails. For cyclists of
all abilities, the Slow Food Cycle combines
a leisurely road ride with Pemby’s farming
roots. This annual event draws thousands
of visitors to ride the scenic Pemberton
Meadows, while stopping at farms along
the way to purchase fresh produce or grab a
snack made from local ingredients.
In 2013, Pemberton welcomed the addition
of an outdoor skatepark, which has proven
immensely popular with the local youth.
Two years later, construction was completed
on a competition-level BMX racing track,
where Pemberton BMX hosts regular races
for kids and adults from the Sea to Sky
Corridor and beyond.
STORY BY STEVE FISHER
IMAGES BY JOERN ROHDE