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Waterfalls in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park

 

Whistler and Garibaldi Park Waterfalls Map

Whistler has several beautiful waterfalls well worth seeing.  You can drive right to the viewpoint for Alexander Falls.  Brandywine Falls, Nairn Falls and Rainbow Falls have just short and very scenic hikes to reach them.  Wedgemount Falls requires a tough and long hike to reach, however all the others can easily be done in beautiful Whistler day.

Brandywine Falls Hiking Trail in WhistlerBrandywine Falls is a beautiful stop in between Squamish and Whistler.  It's about 25 minutes north of Squamish, 11k south of Whistler.  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 the Cheakamus River 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.  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.  For much of the winter you will find the gates to the parking lot closed. If you encounter this, simply park as close to the gate as possible and hike from there. You will likely see a couple cars already parked there doing the same as you.  Beware though, in the depths of winter you may have to walk through some deep snow, bring snowshoes if you have them!  For a complete list of places to snowshoe in and around Whistler check here.

Why should you hike to 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 Waterfalls of Whistler - Brandywine Falls >>

Alexander Falls in WhistlerAlexander 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 drive to Alexander Falls?

Alexander Falls is massive, beautiful and arguably the most beautiful of Whistler's waterfalls.  It's convenient and easy to get to as you can drive right to the viewpoint with no hiking involved.  It's near the end of a beautiful drive up the Callaghan Valley.  In the months without snow you will likely 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 nearby sights such as Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Lake (4x4 recommended), and Madeley Lake.

More Waterfalls of Whistler - Alexander Falls >>

Rainbow Falls hiking trail in WhistlerThe short, scenic and easy hiking trail to Rainbow Falls is located only a half kilometre from the Rainbow Lake trailhead. The trail begins by ascending into deep forest and the trail winds left, right, up and down constantly.  21 Mile Creek, always on your right can always be either seen or heard.  21 Mile Creek begins, 8 kilometres away as it drains from Rainbow Lake, making its way eventually to the River of Golden Dreams, before finally draining into Green Lake north of Whistler Village.  A couple minutes into the Rainbow Trail and you come to a fork in the path.  You can take either path as they rejoin further up the trail, however taking the right fork is more scenic and only a little more of a steep climb.  A second fork in the trail appears a couple minutes later again, and once again taking the right fork is better.  You will then come to a small trail sign indicating "Rainbow Falls".  This short trail takes you to the little oasis that Rainbow Falls flows into.  After seeing Rainbow Falls, there are a couple more nice vantage points just a short hike further up the Rainbow Trail.  If you backtrack from the Falls and rejoin the Rainbow Trail, you will zig-zag up some short switchbacks, before coming out to the gravel access road to the water treatment building.  Here you will find a nice mapboard showing the Rainbow Trail and some of the connecting trails.  This section of trail overlaps with the 40 kilometre, Rainbow Sproatt Flank Trail, so you will see some "Flank Trail" signs as well as Rainbow Lake signs.

Why should you hike to Rainbow Falls?

Rainbow Falls has a very fun and short trail to reach it.  Several other hiking destinations branch off from it including the Flank Trail, Rainbow Lake and Madeley LakeRainbow Park at Alta Lake is just a one minute drive further down Alta Lake Road and is a must-see park in Whistler any time of the year.

More Waterfalls of Whistler: Rainbow Falls >>

Wedgemount Falls in Garibaldi Provincial Park in WhistlerWedgemount Falls can be seen along the trail to Wedgemount Lake.  As the falls flow directly from Wedgemount Lake, they are located about three quarters of the hiking distance from the trailhead(5 kilometres).  At almost 300 metres high, Wedgemount Falls can be heard long before being visible.  The forest cover is very thick for most of the trail to Wedgemount Lake so getting a clear look at the falls is difficult.  There is one spot, however, where you will catch sight of them, still kilometres away, yet with such a enormously tall waterfall, you would have to see them from a distance to get it all in view. Wedgemount Lake is one of the most spectacular hikes in Garibaldi Park. Though it is a relentlessly exhausting, steep hike, it is mercifully short at only 7 kilometres (one way).  Wedgemount Lake itself is a magnificent destination for a day hike or spectacular overnight beneath the dazzling mountain peaks and stars.  At a fast hiking pace you can reach Wedgemount Lake from the trailhead in just an hour and a half but at a leisurely or backpack laden pace you will likely take over two hours.  The trail is well marked and well used.  The steepness of the trail doesn't require any technical skill, however that last kilometre before the lake you will be scrambling on all fours quite a bit.  The elevation gain makes a tremendous difference when carrying a heavy backpack and unprepared for the exertion.  There is hardly a section of the trail that is not steeply uphill.  The first 15 minutes takes you into the deep forest and then across Wedgemount Creek.  This crashing creek can be heard from quite a distance and gives you a hint of the steepness of the trail to come.  The source of Wedgemount Creek is of course Wedgemount Lake which tumbles down almost 300 metres in the spectacular Wedgemount Falls.  You will be able to see Wedgemount Falls around the 5 kilometre mark along the trail.  It is far off to the right in the distance.  Despite the distance, you will hear it loud and clear and some easy to find and get to areas off the trail give amazing views of it.

Why should you hike to Wedgemount Falls?

Wedgemount Lake is one of the most spectacular hikes in Whistler.  Close to Whistler Village, the trailhead is only about a ten minute drive away.  Though the hike is hard and steep, it is short.  A fit person can hike the trail to Wedgemount Lake in under 1.5 hours (one way) and you will see Wedgemount Falls in just over an hour.  There are endless mountains, glaciers and hidden trails to explore up by the lake.  Wonderful and free hut to use with a million dollar view of the lake.  The somewhat difficulty of the hike makes it less used than many other nearby trails and you often get the whole, magnificent valley to yourself!

More Waterfalls of Whistler: Wedgemount Falls in Garibaldi Park >>

Nairn Falls Provincial Park in SquamishNairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above.  The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock.  Though Nairn Falls is often described as 60 metres high, the description is misleading.  The falls crash through various narrow and wide areas, and though the cumulative drop is 60 metres, what you see is a series of 10 to 20 metre waterfalls.  There are a nicely constructed railing, fence, viewing area and walkway that guides you to the best views.  With such abruptly steep rock all around, the area would be potentially dangerous.  Evidently there have been deaths here before and even recently a dog fell in and had to be rescued.  A memorial cross, reverently placed across the chasm from the viewing platform, indicates of some tragic event.  Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just a short 20 to 30 minute drive north of Whistler.  From the large parking lot the well marked trail runs along the Green River for 1.2k to Nairn Falls.  The trail is very easy and is hike-able year-round.  Though considerable snow falls in the winter months here, the trail remains passable.  In the opposite direction to the falls, the Sea to Sky Trail wind through the deep forest, along Green River and beyond to Pemberton.

Why should you hike to Nairn Falls?

Nairn Falls is a short and easy, family friendly hike to a very impressive waterfall.  Perfect for an afternoon drive/hike/picnic from Whistler.  A relaxing and family friendly hike located on the wonderful and expansive Sea to Sky Trail.

More Waterfalls of Whistler: Nairn Falls Provincial 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.  The trailhead to the Chief is easy to find. From highway 99, in Squamish. As you approach the Chief, visible for several kilometres, watch for the sign for "Stawamus Chief." The large parking lots are arranged next to the trailhead.  There is a nice campground, with plenty of tent sites at the trailhead.  A better route for a day hike is to start at Shannon Falls, it only adds about 1km but includes the spectacular Shannon falls as well as a nicer route as it joins the trail to the Chief part way up. The Upper Shannon Falls Trail extends past Shannon Falls.  To reach the Upper Shannon Falls Trail you must join onto the Stawamus Chief Trail and after a few minutes you will see a sign directing you to the right to the Upper Shannon Falls Trail.  It is a beautiful and similarly beautiful alternative to the very busy Stawamus Chief Trail.

Why should you drive to Shannon Falls?

Very convenient on the drive to or from Whistler.  The Shannon Falls viewpoint is just a short walk from your car.  Very impressive as the third tallest waterfalls in BC.

More Waterfalls of Whistler: Shannon Falls Provincial Park >>

 

Whistler Garibaldi Park Hiking Topo Map Guide

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