Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held. There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below. The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park). The adventurous can find the obscure trail that leads to both the top of the falls as well as, with great difficulty, to the base of the falls. For a unique and breathtaking spot to share a beer on the outskirts of Whistler, Alexander Falls surely ranks quite high. Of impressive waterfalls in the Whistler area, Alexander Falls is one of several spectacular ones. Others in the area include the amazing Brandywine Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Nairn Falls. Along very difficult hike to Wedgemount Lake you will see the incredible Wedgemount Falls. Down in Squamish, 45 minutes south of Whistler, you will find Shannon Falls.
Why should you go to Alexander Falls?
Alexander Falls is massive and beautiful. It's convenient and easy - you can drive right to it with no hiking involved. It's near the end of a beautiful drive up the Callaghan Valley. In the months without snow you will see multiple bears along the road in the last couple kilometres before Alexander Falls. There are bear watching companies that specifically drive to this area on their tours. Seeing Alexander Falls can be combined with other sights such as Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Lake (4x4 required), and Madeley Lake.
Ancient Cedars often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler. Certainly the large numbers of centuries old, massive cedars found in much of the other Whistler area hikes makes looking for them on a specific hike less of a priority. For example, 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 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 end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the Ancient Cedars Trail. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. 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. 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...
Why should you hike Ancient Cedars?
The most impressive cedars in Whistler and a nice, easy and relaxing hike. Can be combined with a scenic drive north of Whistler to see the Green Lake viewpoint.
Black Tusk is the amazing pinnacle of volcanic rock visible for hundreds of kilometres and located near the centre of Garibaldi Park. Black Tusk, along with the Chief in Squamish are the most astoundingly noticeable peaks in the Garibaldi Range. 170,000 years ago the Black Tusk was created when a lava dome formed within a million year old, volcanic cinder cone. The cinder cone is crumbling away, revealing the starkly black, hardened lava dome within. Looking at the Black Tusk from a distance, two things seem incredible. First, that such an unusual thing formed, and second that there is a trail that takes you to its peak. With a little sketchy and dangerous, though non technical climbing, you can get to the top of Black Tusk. It is a fairly long dayhike as you cover 30k on the roundtrip hike. There are three very nice campgrounds in the area allowing for a beautiful, multi-day hiking trip to the area. Helm Creek one one side of Black Tusk and Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake campgrounds on the other side provide dozens of beautiful places to put up a tent. The final ascent of Black Tusk is a bit scary and dangerous so be prepared. You have to climb a narrow, steep and crumbly chute up about 10 metres to reach the top. Quite a few people don't climb this last part and instead just take in the extraordinary views from the base. Either way, Black Tusk is unquestionably one of the best of the best hikes in the Whistler area and in Garibaldi Park.
Why should you hike Black Tusk?
Hiking to the top of Black Tusk is certainly one of the most extraordinary and memorable hikes around Whistler. It is a tremendous hiking workout as you gain 1735 metres in the 15k from trailhead to summit. It is an exhilarating hike as the last summit chute requires some courage and daring.
Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the way to or from Whistler. The falls drop from a 66 metre, unnaturally abrupt cliff to the valley below. It is such a popular and beautiful sight that it is a Provincial Park complete with a large and elaborate viewing platform directly opposite the falls. Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. If driving from Vancouver, keep your eyes out for the Brandywine Falls sign on your right about 25 minutes north of Squamish. The parking lot is immediately off the highway and the short 1 kilometre trail takes you over then alongside the Cheakamus River to the viewing area. The only facilities in the park are pit toilets and picnic tables and there is no charge for hiking or for parking your vehicle in the park. The gate off of the highway is locked at night and in the winter so at these times you simply park at the edge of the highway and hike past the gate. In the winter you often see people strapping on snowshoes for the short trek to the falls in the snow. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is attached to the wonderful Sea to Sky Trail which runs between and beyond Whistler and Squamish.
Why should you hike to Brandywine Falls?
Brandywine Falls is amazingly beautiful and very easy and quick to hike to. Just a 20 minute pit stop on the drive to or from Whistler allows you to see this amazing falls. Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls, just south of Squamish are both convenient, quick and beautiful stops on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.
Brandywine Meadows is a nice hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in the Callaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in just 3k (trailhead to valley). The trailhead is tricky to find and involves a fairly long gravel road journey that is passable without a 4x4, but barely. The route is strewn with potholes and some loose rock sections. Brandywine Meadows is used mainly for snowmobiling in the winter months and the bumpy ex-logging road to the trailhead is in poor condition in the summer. The hike takes you to the beautiful Brandywine Meadows stretching into the distance along a cute, meandering river. The valleys far end leads to Brandywine Mountain. The mountains in the area, including Brandywine are hike-able, though the trails, if any are faint and unmarked. There are no camping facilities in Brandywine Meadows, however, the seemingly endless valley offers plenty of tent sites...
Why should you hike to Brandywine Meadows? Challenging elevation gain, enormous valley to explore, cute river to set your tent up next to. Endless hiking possibilities in many directions from the centre of the meadows. One of the few dog friendly hikes around. Amazing, picturesque valley full of colours.
Brew Lake and Brew Mountain are seldom hiked as the trail is fairly difficult and long. Both Brew Lake and Brew Mountain can be accessed in the summer via the Brew Creek Trail. The trail is well marked with orange tape, orange tree markers and rock cairns almost every dozen metres. This is well needed though as the trail is at times extremely steep, often overgrown and never in a straight line. Despite the frequency of trail markings, it is very easy to get lost, and this is a very dangerous trail to get lost on. Much of it traverses through mighty boulder fields with precarious truck sized rocks around and above you. Unfortunately a lot of hiking time is wasted squinting into the trees for route markers. If you do weather the difficult hike you will arrive at a beautiful, secluded backcountry paradise. Beautiful alpine hills and green meadows everywhere you look. There is even a hut available to use further up toward Brew Mountain that is usable by anyone. Park at the Brandywine Falls parking lot, and walk toward the falls. Just before the Brandywine Falls, turn right and follow the train tracks.
Why should you hike to Brew Lake?
The Brew Lake trail is challenging hike with considerable elevation gain of over 1000 metres in 5k. The trail is 8.5k, however, the first 2.5k you gain no elevation. The area is rarely hiked so you will almost certainly have the whole lake to yourself. The Brew Hut is mainly used in the winter as a base for skiing and seldom used in the summer.
Callaghan Lake is not really a hiking destination but more of a drive to campsite on a beautiful lake, and gateway to some beautiful intermediate hikes. The campsite is small and looks a bit like a parking lot with about 6 spots to put up a tent. There is a proper boat launch at the campsite and the lake is large and beautiful to paddle. Surrounded by snowy mountains and nice rock outcrops the lake is good for fishing. The hiking trails are minimal here due to the steepness and deep forest surrounding the lake. At the far end of the lake the rustic and steep Cirque Lake trail runs along the side of the crashing waterfall all the way to the breathtaking Cirque Lake. If you are motivated and have a canoe this is an amazing area to hike in mostly untouched wilderness where the alpine allows for hiking in several directions to countless lakes and glaciers beyond. The Callaghan Lake campsite is free to use and is notorious for being a bit rowdy during summer weekends, which does make it a friendly and fun place, but if you are looking for quiet and peace you may find it bothersome and should seek out one of the many, extraordinarily beautiful, boat accessed, backcountry tent sites.
Why should you go to Callaghan Lake?
Convenient, drive right to the lake (4x4 is recommended due to the massive and frequent potholes as well as frequent, deep waterbars). If you have a boat or canoe you can explore many beautiful areas of the lake and take several short hikes.
Cheakamus Lake is an easy, relaxing hike in Garibaldi Park just a short, 16k drive from Whistler Village. The trail to the lake is in an amazing forest of giant cedars. The first 3k of the trail takes you along the beautiful Cheakamus River to the start of Cheakamus Lake and the first campsite area. There are 10 very nice and hidden tent pads on or near the lake shore. There is excellent water from several creeks in the area and a bear proof food hang as well as tidy outhouses here. Another 3k further on the trail takes you to some beautiful viewpoints on the ever increasingly majestic Cheakamus Lake trail. Huge trees, turquoise lake, snow capped mountains, and even the occasional bear siting make this hike one of Whistler's best and most family and kid friendly hikes around. The trail is never strenuous and constantly beautiful with the wonderful smells that come with an old growth cedar forest. The campsite at 6k on the Cheakamus Lake trail consists of another 7 tent sites beautifully blended into the surroundings, another bear proof food hang and outhouse...
Why should you hike Cheakamus Lake?
Beautiful, huge tree forest, easy kid friendly trail, pristine Garibaldi Park wilderness and a spectacular and huge lake. Excellent campsites and numerous hidden beaches and wonderful, though very cold, swimming. Known for great fishing.