Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
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, 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.
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 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.
The start of the trail takes you across a small, covered bridge over the river. The trail then continues along the river and leads to the wonderful viewing area across from the falls. The trail then continues another hundred metres to another viewing area. This viewpoint overlooks Daisy Lake, the massive lake that Brandywine Falls empties into. On a sunny day, Black Tusk dominates the skyline here.
An unmarked trail continues from this viewpoint and continues along the cliffs and to a very difficult trail down to the base of the falls. The first section requires lowering yourself down by rope, so should only be tackled by the adventurous and very fit.
Sea to Sky Trail which runs between and beyond Whistler and Squamish. It is a wide, gravel biking and hiking trail that will eventually extend north to Pemberton. Swim Lake is another interesting sight to see in Brandywine Falls Park and is at the end of a short and easy trail off of the main trail near the train tracks.is attached to the wonderful
Swim Lake once had a cute little pier which made it amazing for swimming, however you will now see the pier at the bottom of the lake. Several winters of heavy snow has permanently waterlogged it and it sits on the bottom like an old shipwreck. Due to the overgrown shoreline and narrow and few entry points, Swim Lake is not terribly inviting for a swim. It is however, seldom visited and you almost always have the lake all to yourself.
Years ago, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park was a campground, however this is no longer the case. No camping is allowed, although there are about a dozen picnic tables in a wonderful setting around the parking area. The parking lot gates are locked 8am to 8pm, so if you plan on visiting the park outside these hours be sure to park outside the gates without blocking anything.
Brandywine Falls - Trailhead Directions
To find the trailhead to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park from Whistler is easy. From Whistler Village, drive south on the Sea to Sky Highway for 11 kilometres. You will see a large entrance and parking lot on your left and plenty of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park signs on the highway. Parking is free, however camping is not permitted in the park.
Other Whistler Area Waterfalls
is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 to 40 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 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. The drive to Alexander Falls is fantastic and with lots to see. As soon as you turn off from the Sea to Sky Highway into the Callaghan Valley you ascend quickly into the mountains. Bears along the roadside are frequently seen as they seem to have a particular fondness for the fields of grass that grow in the sunny meadows that surround this recently constructed, paved road... Nairn Falls: (20 minute drive north of Whistler): Easy, flat trail, 1.2k easy hike to falls. Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the elaborate viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above. The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock. 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. Rainbow Falls: (20 minute drive north of Whistler): Steep but short trail, 0.5k hike to falls. The beautiful and easily accessible Rainbow Falls are located just a short, half kilometre from the Rainbow Lake trailhead. Most hikers don't notice or make the short detour to take a look at Rainbow Falls on their way to Rainbow Lake. 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 at Alta Lake as well as lots of room at the Rainbow Trail 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. Shannon Falls: (45 minute drive south of Whistler): Steep but short trail, 0.3k hike to falls. 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 or to the challenging trail to Upper Shannon Falls. The trail to the Stawamus Chief and Upper Shannon Falls are very steep and almost constant stairs to be prepared for quite a workout comparable to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver.