Brandywine Falls Provincial Park Whistler Area Waterfalls
Year-Round (Park at Gate in Winter) / Easy Trail / 20 Minutes South of Whistler
Brandywine 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.
There is a wonderful viewing platform across from the falls the juts out over the edge of the 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. Walk over to that to see the falls from above. Amazing!
Height: 66 metres / 216 feet
Width: 12.2 metres / 40 feet
To find it just keep your eye out for the Brandywine Falls sign about 25 minutes north of Squamish or 20 minutes south of Whistler. From Vancouver or Squamish 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.
Alexander Falls Whistler Area Waterfalls
Year-Round / Easy, Drive to Falls View / 30 Minutes South of Whistler Village
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.
Height: 43 metres / 141 feet
Width: 12.2 metres / 40 feet
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. Before the Olympic remodelling of 2009, there were several campsite areas. They have now been bulldozed into one unnecessarily large parking lot with big signs prohibiting camping of any kind. The area is however, so far from civilization as to be unfeasible to police. For this reason, the viewing platform and parking lot at Alexander Falls are still, though surreptitiously, used as a convenient and free place to sleep in a magnificent setting. For a unique and breathtaking spot to share a beer on the outskirts of Whistler, Alexander Falls surely ranks quite high.
Rainbow Falls Whistler Area Waterfalls
Year-Round / Moderate Trail (.5k to Falls) / 20 Minutes North of Whistler Village
The beautiful and accessible Rainbow Falls are located just a short, half kilometre from the Rainbow Lake trailhead. Most hikers don't notice or make the short ten minute detour to take a look at Rainbow Falls. They are very nice.
Height: 42 metres / 137 feet
Width: 11 metres / 36 feet
At one area just below the falls there is a big hiking/biking bridge that has a great vantage point from above the falls. Also there is a smaller trail that sinks into the forest (don't cross the bridge), above the bridge and leads you right up to that small, though cascading waterfall. Rainbow Falls is a crashing section of falls that runs for several metres and visible at several locations. If you hike to Rainbow Lake you will encounter a couple other falls that are also considered Rainbow Falls, however, this section is generally regarded as "Rainbow Falls". The trailhead is a short 20 minute drive from Whistler Village. There is parking at Rainbow Park as well as a few spots at the Rainbow Lake trailhead. In the winter there is quite a lot of snow to deal with, however this is a popular trail and you will likely find the snowy trail padded down from snowshoes and walkable without snowshoes even in the depths of winter.
Wedgemount Lake (Wedge) Falls Whistler Area Waterfalls
Jul-Oct / Difficult Trail (1220m in 7k) / 10 Minutes North of Whistler Village
The Wedgemount Lake hike is a very difficult, steep hike. The falls are visible about three quarters of the way to the lake.
Height: 296 metres / 971 feet
Width: 18 metres / 59 feet
This is a difficult hike and expect to take 1.5 hours to reach the Wedgemount Falls viewpoint and at this point they are quite far away.
In the winter months this hike is very difficult due to snow and how steep the trail is. Even on snowshoes is is very tough.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park Whistler Area Waterfalls
Year-Round / Easy (1.2k to Falls) / 20 Minutes North of Whistler Village
Nairn 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.
Height: 60 metres / 197 feet
Width: 9.1 metres / 30 feet
Though the BC Parks website describes Nairn Falls 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 falls. There are a nicely constructed railing, fence and 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. A 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 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. There is quite a large and beautiful campground at Nairn Falls as well. Located right next to the parking lot there are 94 vehicle accessed campsites that disappear into the forest adjacent to the Green River.
The campground is open May 11 - September 30. The other months the entry gate is locked to the park and a small, highway-side parking area is used to access the park. The charge for camping is $18 per party, per night, during the months the campground is open. Outside of that window there is obviously no charge and you won't be prohibited from camping during the off season. From the parking lot, a hiking trail also goes along the Green River in the opposite direction to Nairn Falls. This 2k trail takes you to One Mile Lake excellent for swimming. Dogs are welcome at Nairn Falls Provincial Park, however bikes are not. There is a hand operated water pump, picnic tables and pit toilets. There is no charge for entry to the park or for parking. The only fees in the park are for overnight camping.
Shannon Falls Whistler Area Waterfalls
Year-Round / Easy, 200 metres to falls / 50 Minutes South of Whistler
Shannon 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.
Height: 335 metres / 1100 feet
Width: 14 metres / 45 feet
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.