Facebook Follow Us
YouTube Subscribe to our channel
Instagram Follow Us
follow us
Mountain Bike Blog



Conquering Whistler's Top of the World Trail


From the moment the Top of the World mountain bike trail opened it was my goal to visit Whistler Bike Park and ride this amazing MTB trail before I was too old to do so.

The Top of the World single track trail video was shot on our second run down, but I’ve added few bits of additional footage from our first run.  It's easy to tell the two runs apart, the first run is bright and sunny while the second run was in thick smoke.  The smokey haze was immensely helpful as reduced the intensity of the shadows providing greater visibility of the chewed out trail surface and ultimately a clearer trail video.

I'd watched about a dozen different Top of the World trail videos in the year leading up to my trip but despite the countless hours studying the trail while I worked out on the trainer, commuted on the bus or sat in the lunch room dreaming of the day there were a number of things that came as quite a surprise. 

The idea of this post is to give you the no-bullshit account
of a ride down Top of the World.

Top of the World is a black trail. They don't exaggerate the trail ratings in Whistler - if a trail is marked as black it’s really a black trail not an “Australian black trail” (if you ski you will know what I mean).  If you aren't up to black standard you shouldn't attempt Top of the World, not only for your own safety but the safety and enjoyment of other riders.

There is quite a bit of steep, rough, loose and rocky fire road before, after and in the middle of Top of the World.  Those trails are hard going, it’s definitely worth doing a bit of training on fast loose fire trails before heading to Whistler, it will serve you well.

When I rode Whistler the trails were exceptionally dry and blown out from the competition season, specifically the EWS and EWS Challenger events that saw thousands of riders chew up the trails.  I've never seen so many bomb holes (potholes) on a trail, nor had I seen this sort of carnage in any of the Top of the World trail videos I'd watched in the lead up.  

While watching the video look closely at how many rocks and roots are exposed and how many bomb holes there are immediately after them.  This was pretty stock standard on this trip.

It was next level rough but also super slippery which was making me even more nervous.  Whether it was the pools of talc, loose corners or rocks covered in a teflon-like film of dust the trail was very skiddy despite running Magic Mary/Hans Dampf.  I’m not used to these conditions so I found it very intimidating (throughout the whole trip).

The top section of Top of the World has some steeps, they are much steeper than they look in videos, made exceptionally more difficult by the large exposed rocks restricting line choice difficult and the super slippery rock armouring. 

Notice how difficult it was for me to keep a good line and speed on the right hand turns in the top steep sections. I couldn’t understand why riders in other videos were so hesitant on those corners, but despite psyching myself up to ride them quickly (especially on run 2) they were incredibly challenging to hold speed on.

I'm sure that after a few runs getting a fast line would come however you pay a high price for fucking up!  Super sharp rocks line the trail from top to bottom enhanced with super big boulders and in the top section some nice drops off the side of the mountain.  The cost of coming off adds to the intensity / stress of riding Top of the World, conversely it makes surviving Top of the World immensely satisfying.

Despite only running a third of the way down the mountain, Top of the World is a long trail!  Our second run was just over 22mins riding time but over an hour on the trail (7 breaks) but it was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.  And it was those things that lead to my moment of laziness and painful #FAIL on the first run - see the video.

After completing Top of the World it’s a LONG way to the bottom.  Access down via Freight Train, No Joke and Duffman (video to come) is just as difficult as Top of the World.  You can however ride down Expressway and onto the blue jump trails however this is not without challenges either as Expressway is largely a loose, rocky and bumpy access road with an uncomfortably steep gradient.  It's a very unpleasant way of getting to Blueberry Bathtub.  First runs in this section could also take you an hour to get down. “Bottom of the World” video coming soon.

Other things you need to know about Top of the World

Top of the World is an additional fee on top of any other pass you have.  You must pre-purchase / pre-book before going up.

Unless you are super fit or used to riding massive descents then a couple of warm up runs in the Fitz (lower) area and a full top to bottom run will probably be as much as you can handle in 1 day.  Consider that before launching into a full day pass + Top of the World ticket - there are cheaper options.

Check the weather, there can be a massive temperature difference between the Village and the Peak.  You will spend enough time on the mountain to suffer from exposure if you don’t have the right clothing - not to mention not being able to brake in freezing conditions.  (JFTR it was over 30°C on the day we left Whistler and 3 days later ToTW was covered in snow!!).

What bike:  Very doable on a Downhill or Enduro Bike.  There are short sections of pedalling and one “climb”, but if a DH bike is what you have then you’ll be fine.

Comparing Top of the World to other trails

All the fire roads:

Thredbo Downhill Fire Road - Not dissimilar in that it's heavily corrugated, loose and faster than you want to be going.  But generally any loose corrugated fire trail practice will help you.

The very top section:

Rollercoaster, B-LineStromlo - but a whole lot harder, rockier, looser, slipperier 

Mt Narra - but looser, slipperier 

Serrata (descent) Bantry Bay - but a whole lot harder, looser, slipperier

Blue Upper Loop (descent), OMV - tight rocky corners, little pinches and steep rocky sandy shoots.

Middle flowy section above or just getting into the trees:

Pork Barrel, Roller Coaster or Slick Rock, Stromlo - but a whole lot harder, rockier, looser, slipperier.  Bigger!

First switchback section in the trees:

All Mountain Trail, Thredbo - similar to sections near the Antons t-bar and below Merrits but but a whole lot harder, rockier, looser, slipperier.

Last flowy tree section:

Eagle Vs Shark, Billy T, Exit, Rotorua Redwoods - fast flowy trails into tight berms.  A few roots and rocks to deal with but for the most part a chance to really let the bike run.

Love Love Love, Send in the Clowns and Dilemma, Wingello - but a lot more intense

Blue Descent (the original), OMV - had a really similar feel to the flow of the original Blue Descent


Trail Centres and Trails featured in this blog



This website is brought to you by MTB weekend warrior Aaron Markie.
There are plenty of great websites out there with a wealth of information about Mountain Bike Trails,
however in my experience its hard to get a good mix of info, maps, photos and videos of trails I've never ridden.
The idea of this website is to tie those 4 elements together and give you a more detailed look at the MTB Trails I ride.
If you have anything to add then let me know.