Rainbow Falls - Whistler Area Trails
The short, scenic and easy hiking trail to Rainbow Falls is located just a short, 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.
If you follow the Flank Trail as it ascends past the water treatment building on its right side, you will quickly come to the beautiful bridge across 21 Mile Creek. This is a great vantage point over this very scenic creek. The Flank Trail continues for several kilometres beyond this bridge, eventually coming out near Ancient Cedars, well north of Whistler Village.
The trailhead is a short 15 minute drive from Whistler Village. There is parking at the Rainbow Trail, trailhead as well as Rainbow Park just a couple hundred metres further up Alta Lake Raod. At the trailhead you will see an excellent map-board indicating the trails in front of you. There are no signs to Rainbow Falls and you will just see signs for Rainbow Lake, Flank Trail and Madeley Lake.
To find Rainbow Falls you just follow the Rainbow Lake trail from the trailhead for about a half kilometre until you reach the water treatment building (Rainbow Lake is Whistler's water source). Just before the building the trail forks.
Beyond Rainbow Falls - Flank Trail & Rainbow Lake
The Rainbow Sproatt Flank Trail overlaps and crosses the Rainbow Trail for half a kilometre. Following the Flank Trail to the right takes you to a very scenic bridge over 21 Mile Creek. Following the Flank Trail to the left leads you to a steady ascent for 400 metres along the Rainbow Lake trail to the trail turnoff to the Flank Trail. The Flank Trail from here quickly ascends through more deep forest and finally after 15 minutes opens up and flattens out. The views become beautiful and trail less tiring. Whistler, Blackcomb and Wedge mountains all come dramatically into view and Alta Lake appears far below. Just steps from the trail take you to pristine, snowy outcrops, perfect for taking in the view on a sunny day.. and with most of the Flank Trail south facing, sun will always be facing you over Whistler. Rainbow Lake is one of the original hiking trails in Whistler that has existed well before Whistler was called Whistler. The 8k trail is challenging though beautiful as it passes through an impressively huge forest of giant trees. There are several wonderful bridge crossings and crashing river views. Rainbow Lake itself is surreal and beautiful. An unnaturally bright, green meadow extends from one side of the lake and a field of starkly white erratics litter the landscape along the shores of the crystal clear lake. Rainbow Lake is Whistler's water source so swimming, fishing, dogs and camping are not allowed. There are, you will quickly notice upon reaching Rainbow Lake, that a trail continues past the lake then forks. The right fork takes you to the right and to the popular, though difficult scramble to the summit of Rainbow Mountain.
Rainbow Falls - Trailhead Directions
Directions to trailhead: Zero your odometer at Village Gate Boulevard(in Whistler Village), drive north on Highway 99. At 3.8km turn left onto Alpine Way, then at the next stop sign turn left onto Rainbow Drive. Continue straight until at 6.8km you will see the trailhead sign, "Rainbow Trail" on your right, half buried in snow most of the winter. There is room for several cars to park, but be careful as if the parking are is packed with snow, you may be able to get in, but not be able to get out easily. Keep that in mind and park in a way that allows you to get out easily. Hike up the Rainbow Trail and to reach Rainbow Falls, bear right at the two obvious forks in the trail. Signs do not indicate where the falls are, but there are several orange trail markers on the trees on the way. Rainbow Falls are found before the water treatment building and the beautiful bridge over the river is just after the treatment building.
Other Whistler Area Waterfalls
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 the 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.. Alexander Falls 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. Brandywine Falls: (20 minute drive south of Whistler): Easy, flat trail, 1k hike to falls. Brandywine Falls is a beautiful stop in between Squamish and Whistler. It's about 25 minutes north of Squamish, 11k south of Whistler. Amazing! 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. 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. Wedgemount Falls: (10 minute drive north of Whistler): Steep & difficult trail, 5k hike to viewpoint. Of all the hikes in Whistler and Garibaldi Park, the Wedgemount Lake trail is the most arduous and constantly steep.