The Alpine Loop trail system begins with the Alpine Walk trailhead located mere steps from the
Blackcomb Mountain end of the Peak 2
Peak Gondola. The easy-walking, narrow
dirt path leaves the sights and sounds of
Whistler Blackcomb’s operations behind.
Minutes later, hikers are immediately hit
with a view of forever-reaching peaks,
snow and sky. Day-to-day thoughts scatter
like the seeds of a blown dandelion puff.
Panoramic views slip behind hemlock
trees, which cozy up trailside. The quilted
patterns of boulders and wild green
grasses emerge. The brilliant red of an
Indian paintbrush wildflower pops. Then
evergreens pull back their curtains again,
and hikers see Whistler Mountain in a
new morning light.
None of this experience is random.
Everything was carefully designed when
Arthur De Jong, along with the late Don
MacLaurin, planned and built the hiking
trail system on Whistler and Blackcomb
mountains in the early 1990s. De Jong’s
goal was to move people on an inward
journey as much as an outward one. You
could say De Jong is out to change the
world. Having spent more than 35 years
working on these two mountains, he’s
discovered the power of putting people
and nature together.
“People will only be inspired or motivated
to protect nature if they understand and
connect with it,” says De Jong, mountain
planning and environmental resource
manager for Whistler Blackcomb. “[Our
trail system] is a place to inspire people to
become better stewards.”
THE POWER OF CONNECTING
PEOPLE AND NATURE
Hiking Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains with Trailblazer and Builder Arthur De Jong
STORY BY NICOLE FITZGERALD
IMAGES BY JOERN ROHDE And there is plenty to be inspired by. The
more than 50 kilometres of hiking trails
range from leisurely family walks of less
than an hour to day-long excursions for
the revved and rugged. All trails are lift-
accessed, dropping adventurers directly
into the alpine without a 5,000-vertical-
foot uphill slog to start their hikes.
“I love the contrast between Blackcomb
and Whistler,” De Jong says of the trails.
“When you go into trails that take you
into the provincial park, on the Blackcomb
side, you are going into the Spearhead
Range, which is very rugged and steep.
On the Whistler side, the High Note
System, now called Fitzsimmons Range,
is a rolling ridge range and rumbling
Most parents refuse to favour one
child over another but De Jong can’t
help himself. When not working or
volunteering for one of many community
social and environmental groups, he often