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Best of Whistler

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Best Sea to Sky Sights Vancouver to Whistler

Brandywine Falls Aerial Video - Whistler TrailsPorteau Cove Aerial Video - Whistler TrailsTrain Wreck Aerial Video - Whistler Aerial

Best Sights on the Sea to Sky Highway 99 Vancouver to Whistler Map

The amazing Sea to Sky Highway that links Vancouver to Whistler has several stops along the way that are often missed.  From the more obvious, Brandywine Falls and Porteau Cove to the less well known, Whistler Train Wreck and Lighthouse Park.  If you have an extra hour or two, most or all of these can be seen on your way to or from Whistler or Vancouver.

Lighthouse Park in VancouverLighthouse Park is an extraordinarily little know piece of paradise, so close to to Vancouver as to see its tall buildings, yet immersed into a dramatically beautiful coastal rainforest.  A wonderful network of trails winds throughout massive Douglas-fir trees and Western Red Cedars as well as golden Arbutus trees stretching toward the ocean.  It is surprisingly convenient on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.  The detour will only add an hour to your trip but the drive alone is well worth doing. Marine Drive runs parallel to the Sea to Sky Highway to or from Whistler, and is a wonderfully beautiful ocean hugging road that is alive with the beauty of Vancouver.  If you are driving to Whistler from downtown Vancouver, finding Marine Drive is easy.  After you cross the Lions Gate Bridge, continue straight as if going to Whistler(Highway 99) and you will almost immediately be on Marine Drive.  Instead of making the right turn to keep on 99, continue straight as you will be on your way to Lighthouse Park via the very scenic Marine Drive.  Wildly overgrown with all kinds of plants and trees, the narrow, Marine Drive hugs the coast in the midst of this evidently wealthy part of Vancouver.  You will have amazing views across to Vancouver as you drive this beautiful road.  After stopping at Lighthouse Park, Marine Drive continues parallel to the Sea to Sky for a few kilometres before signs show you where to rejoin Highway 99 to Whistler.  The driveways you pass are windy and steep, and alarmingly close to the road.

Lighthouse Park Aerial Video

Oncoming cars you pass slow down.  It's that narrow.  You are now in the real Vancouver.  The houses are old and beautifully immersed in the deep, dark rainforest that once blanketed the land where skyscrapers of the city now stand.  This is where you can look across to the high rise building crammed metropolis of Vancouver and feel in another world.  Quiet, serene, immersed in deep forest, and contrast beautifully to the beauty across the water.  Lighthouse Park is located at a beautiful piece of land in the edge of this.

Why should you take the short hike at Lighthouse Park?

Lighthouse Park is a beautiful Vancouver park, nestled inside a wonderful example of British Columbia's coastal rainforest.  The trees are huge, the forest thick and the ocean views are amazing.  Rain or shine, this park is a must see on any drive between Vancouver and Whistler.  Marine Drive is another aspect that makes this a beautiful detour.  This part of Vancouver is a great representation of Vancouver.  Deep forest, beautiful ocean and rugged coastline.

Info & Directions to Lighthouse Park - Best Stops Sea to Sky >>

 

Porteau Cove on the Sea to SkyPorteau Cove is a beautiful little stop on the way to or from Whistler.  You will notice the lack of washroom stops on the way to or from Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway, and if nothing else, makes Porteau Cove a perfect rest stop.  Aside from washrooms there is a wonderful pier with viewing platforms that hover high above the ocean of this majestic and enormous Canadian fjord - the most southerly fjord in North America.  There is a nice campground that extends down the shore towards Vancouver.  Porteau Cove is well known in the Scuba Diving community for amazing diving.  In fact a ship was purposely sunk in the area to increase the already amazing diving appeal. Other underwater curiosities make this a well used and beautiful place to dive.  On any given day, you will see groups of scuba divers in the distance or getting in or out of the water.  Their entry area by the boat ramp has a nice description of what is under the water that makes it such a fascinating place to dive.  One the pier you will find an interpretive tour of sorts as their are descriptions, every few metres along the railings of what you may see from the pier viewpoints.  Much like Lighthouse Park, you can visit Porteau Cove during any type of weather and be glad you stopped.  The views are sensational and the enormous pier takes you right out, far above the ocean.  Porteau Cove is very easy to find.  Just keep your eye out for the highway sign directing you to the turnoff.  If driving from Vancouver the Porteau Cove turnoff is 41 kilometres from Vancouver if you zero your odometer on the Lions Gate Bridge.  When you turn in from the highway you will see a parking lot on your left with the washrooms and another huge parking area next to the wonderful Porteau Cove Pier.  This pier is quite large and has great views of the fjord.  There is a nice beach and campground if you continue along the road just past the pier.  Lots of picnic tables and a great place to stop for lunch on the way to or from Whistler.

Porteau Cove Provincial Marine Park - Aerial View

Why should you stop at Porteau Cove on the Sea to Sky?

Porteau Cove Marine Park is convenient, free and easy stop on the Sea to Sky Highway.  The pier is wonderful to see as it stretches far out and above the ocean.  Washrooms and some some interesting things to read on various interpretive murals make this a must see stop on the way to or from Whistler or Vancouver.

More Info for Porteau Cove Provincial Marine Park >>

 

Shannon Falls Provincial ParkShannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC.  The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old growth forest to get to the base of the falls.  From your car to the viewpoint takes only about four minutes, however the trail continues a bit further to a higher viewpoint (five minutes higher).  You can even continue along the trail and join with the Stawamus Chief Trail which goes to the three summits of the Chief.  The trail to the Chiefs peaks are very steep and almost constant stairs to be prepared for quite a workout comparable to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver.  The trailhead is just south of the Stawamus Chief trailhead, south of Squamish.  The Chief is the mammoth rock face that towers over Squamish. Though hardly believable from looking at, the summit is only a one hour hike.  In fact there are three peaks, South (First), Centre (Second), and North (Third). Each accessible from the single trailhead.

Why should you stop at Shannon Falls?

Shannon Falls is an easy stop on the Sea to Sky to a very impressive waterfall.  The entrance directly off the highway is easy to spot and convenient.  The trail to the falls is short, easy, and well worth the 20 minutes you will likely take in total.

Shannon Falls Info & Directions from the Sea to Sky Highway >>

 

Brandywine Falls Provincial ParkBrandywine Falls is a beautiful stop on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler.  It's about 11 kilometres south of Whistler.  Brandywine Falls Provincial Park was established in 1973 as a campground and recreational area.  The origin of the name for Brandywine Falls is suspected to have come from a wager by two surveyors.  Legend has it that Jack Nelson and Bob Mollison, working for the Howe Sound and Northern Railway made a wager for a bottle of brandy for who could guess how high the falls were.  Measured by a chain, Mollison won the wager and bottle of brandy and Nelson named the falls Brandywine.  The hike from the parking lot to the falls is less than a kilometre and on a wide and flat trail.  Of all the waterfalls around Whistler, Brandywine is the most impressive.  There is a wonderful viewing platform across from the waterfalls that juts out over the edge of the enormous chasm the falls empty into.  There is another fantastic place to view the falls that most people miss.  There is a great viewpoint from above the falls where you can stand above Brandywine Creek just metres before it falls over the cliff.  To find it is easy.  As you walk toward the falls from the parking lot you will have to cross train tracks just a few metres from the viewing platform.

Brandywine Falls Aerial Video

Standing at the train tracks look to your right and you will see a bridge that the train tracks cross.  This bridge has a great vantage point and yet another stunning angle to see these beautiful waterfalls. Amazing!  Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is easy to find while driving to or from Whistler.  Look for the "Brandywine Falls Provincial Park" sign about 25 minutes north of Squamish or 20 minutes south of Whistler.  From the Vancouver/Squamish direction, Brandywine Falls will be on your right.

Why should you stop at Brandywine Falls?

The falls are amazing 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 waterfalls.  Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls(Squamish), are both convenient and quick stops on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.

More Info for Brandywine Falls off the Sea to Sky Highway >>

 

Train Wreck Hike in WhistlerIt is hard to say enough about the Whistler Train Wreck.  It is fantastic for so many reasons.  First, its location.  Just a short 10 minute drive gets you to the trailhead parking in Cheakamus Crossing.  The trail to Whistler Train Wreck is an easy, yet varied route through deep forest, across a great suspension bridge over Cheakamus River, to a stunning array of wrecked train cars. The trail from your car to the wrecks only takes about 15 minutes, however once you reach one wreck, you see another, then another. There are seven wrecks in total that are spread over an area about 400 metres long.  Along with the surreal train wrecks painted with stunning murals, you find yourself in a thick forest that runs along Cheakamus River. Cheakamus River is a beautiful, wild and crashing river that snakes past the train wrecks. Numerous side trails take you to some marvellous viewpoints, several metres above the rushing water below.  If you follow a trail past the wrecks(heading north or in the direction of Whistler Village) you will emerge at the train tracks. If you are adventurous you will then walk along, beside the tracks for a couple hundred metres and some truly breathtaking views of Cheakamus River.  Keep in mind that skirting the train tracks is illegal, so you must never do this if a train is in the vicinity. If you plan to bivouac under the stars, this area is a great choice. Multiple beautiful rock outcrops along and above the river and you may not get disturbed as most hikers don't risk violating the law. Camping is prohibited within Whistler's municipal boundary, which Train Wreck is within, yet a sleeping bag under the stars will almost certainly go unnoticed. If bivouacking or stealth camping is what you are after, you will find quite a lot to choose from as you hike in along the Train Wreck trail.

Whistler Train Wreck Aerial Video of the Wrecks

Why should you hike to Whistler Train Wreck?

Whistler Train Wreck is a surreal and beautiful, yet short hike along the gorgeous Cheakamus River to the bizarre train wrecks.  The entire trail is interesting as you pass along a cute creek, hike under the Sea to Sky Highway, through a narrow, huge tree forest, then finally along the beautiful river and wrecks.

More Info & Directions to Whistler Train Wreck >>

Whistler Train Wreck Aerial Views

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