Great Options For  Hiking In Whistler BC

Explore Shannon Falls, Nairn Falls, Brandywine Falls and Alexander Falls

Options For Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

We Found Great Options For Hiking In Whistler BC

We had a good 3 day visit and found some great options for hiking in Whistler British Columbia (BC).  Whistler is a massive ski resort area that was used for the 2010 Winter Olympics. But it was also a great spot to visit in BC in the Fall.

Our great luxury suite at the Westin Whistler Resort and Spa tempted us to snuggle in and enjoy some relaxation.  And with the Whistler Village so close by, there was lots to see on a short walk.  But we knew there were some great outdoor spots to explore.

The waterfalls we found in the Provincial Parks were very different but all were interesting to explore – Shannon Falls, Nairn Falls, Brandywine Falls and Alexander Falls.  Some required gentle walks but some definitely were hiking paths.  And when the sun peeked through, we were glad we headed out and saw the emerald Green Lake.

A Stop At Shannon Falls

We enjoyed our great luxury stay on False Creek in Vancouver.  The drive to our next stop in Whistler was only a few hours.  So we had a relaxing morning and then headed north along the Sea to Sky Highway (Hwy 99).  Even though it was drizzling, we planned a stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park.  Unlike some of the other options for hiking in Whistler we did to find waterfalls, this was a short and easy walk in.  Our walk started on the lower path and we got a view of the Shannon Creek.

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We kept walking up and found the viewpoint to Shannon Falls.   The water cascaded in a sheet down the 335 metre (1,100 feet) high rocky cliff.  This was the third highest waterfall in the province of British Columbia.

Shannon Falls.jpg
Shannon Falls - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg
Shannon Falls - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

From Shannon Falls we saw a walkway to the Sea To Sky Gondola.  But we got back in the car and took the next exit at the base of the gondola run. We saw the cars head up and disappear into the mist at the top.  It would have been interesting to hike at the top and see Shannon Falls from above.  But with the lack of visibility we passed for this trip.

Sea To Sky Gondola - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg
Sea To Sky Gondola.jpg

We loved when we found interesting stops on our travel days.  And were glad we stopped at Shannon Falls.

A Great Resort In The Mountains

This was not our first visit to Whistler.  When we visited Whistler in the spring, we enjoyed the off season views and took the ski lifts and cable cars to the top.  At that time we got a view of Whistler Village but it was only a day trip.

On this visit for hiking in Whistler, we planned a 3 night stay at the Westin Whistler Resort and Spa.  Our Marriott elite status got us an amazing upgrade to a one bedroom suite with soaker tub and a fireplace.  Even with a rainy forecast for our visit, we knew we would be warm and cozy.

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Westin Spa and Resort Suite - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg
Westin Spa and Resort Suite.jpg

The hotel had several restaurant options which we tried.  And our elite status got us free breakfast.  But with a full kitchen, we had the flexibility to make some of our meals in the suite.  On this trip to Western Canada in the fall, we were away from home for a few months.  So it was nice to get a break from restaurant meals.  And save some money too.

Westin Spa and Resort Food.jpg
Westin Spa and Resort Food - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

We had a great spot to relax for 3 days.  But we found much to draw us outside to go hiking in Whistler BC.

Fall Colours In Whistler Village

The nice thing about our hotel was its proximity to Whistler Village.  There were dozens of shops and restaurants within a short walk.  

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Village Shops.jpg

The village was located right at the bottom of the ski run.  The hard core bikers mountain biked in the drizzle. They loaded their bikes onto a customized chairlift platform and then took the chairlifts to the top of the run. The mountain bikers even had a dedicated bike wash at the end of the run.

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Mountain Biking.jpg

As we wandered through the village, we were delighted when we found the fall colours were well advanced in the mountains.  We got great colourful views along the village streets and up to the mountains that surrounded the village.

Fall Colours - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg
Fall Colours - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

Even with great skies we enjoyed several walks around Whistler Village.

Hike To Nairn Falls

The weather forecast showed rain for much of our visit to Whistler.  While we were tempted to cocoon by the fireplace, we headed out hiking in Whistler several times.  Our first trip out was to Nairn Falls about 30 minutes north of Whistler.  We got our first view of the waterfalls from the road before we parked in Nairn Falls Provincial Park.  

The paths were well marked through the forest.  It was about 3km round trip to the falls.  We got a glimpse of the Green River as we walked the path.  Much of the path was relatively easy.  But as we neared the viewing platform it became steeper.  And for the final hike to the viewing platforms we climbed up the rocks.

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Nairn Falls Viewing Platform - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg
Nairn Falls Viewing Platform.jpg

From the upper viewing platform we got a great view of the waters thundering between the narrow rock cliff opening.  

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Scrambling back down the falls we saw the rocky path to a lower viewpoint.  This was a much tougher path with wet rocks in the rain.  But David was determined not to miss that view.  He was rewarded with views of the water as it rushed down the lower falls.  

Nairn Falls - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

We headed back to the parking lot, happy we picked Nairn Falls as one of our options for hiking in Whistler BC.

Visiting Brandywine Falls

On another grey day we headed out to enjoy the Brandywine Falls.  We passed Brandywine Provincial Park on our drive north to Whistler.  So we back-tracked about 20 minutes and got to the park.  The paths in the park were on the Sea To Sky Trail.  The round trip path to the waterfall was about one kilometre.  With lots of energy, we could even hike right back to Whistler Village.  

Brandywine Falls Hike.jpg
Brandywine Falls Hike.jpg

We followed the path and crossed a railway crossing.  More fall colours greeted us.  As we walked along the path we got views of the Cheakamus River beside the path.

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When we got to the first viewpoint, we got a great view of Brandywine Falls in the distance.  Mist swirled around as the drizzle came and went.  We continued along the path to a slightly lower viewpoint for a mistier view.  

Brandywine Falls - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

At the end of the canyon rim path we found another viewpoint with a view out over the Cheakamus River.  Another path and a longer hike would take us to the Bungee Bridge.  Although we later saw another exit on the highway for this attraction.

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Even with the rain we were not the only ones hiking in Whistler BC that day.  But we were glad we made the trip and saw Brandywine Falls.

Discovering Alexander Falls When Hiking In Whistler

There was one more waterfall on my list to see in the area.  We navigated to Callaghan Valley Road and followed it even though there was no sign on the highway for Alexander Falls.  Alexander Falls was marked when we reached it.  But happily the crowds we saw at Brandywine Falls did not know about Alexander Falls.

The upper viewpoint gave us a great view of this beautiful waterfall.  When we scrambled down to the lower viewpoint, we got a bit broader view that included the Madeley Creek.

Alexander Falls - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

We were so glad we did the research in advance and found Alexander Falls.  It might be the favourite waterfall of our options for hiking in Whistler.

Green Lake As The Rain Ends

When we drove north of Whistler to Nairn Falls we passed by Green Lake right off the side of Hwy 99.  Its emerald green colour was a draw.  But not in the rain.  So on our last day when the rain stopped and a little blue sky peeked through, we headed out for a view of Green Lake. 

There was a pullout at the side of the lake.  We looked north and got a view of the green lake with misty mountains in the distance.  And then looked back south.  The emerald green was so much more brilliant without the grey skies and rain.

Green Lake - Hiking In Whistler BC.jpg

We were certainly glad we headed out in the short period of sunshine we found on our visit to Whistler.

Olympic Sites Too

As we wandered in the Whistler area, we found the markings for several Olympic sites.  The 2010 Olympic Winter Games were held in Whistler.  When we walked in the village, we saw the Olympic Rings.  They were a popular spot for photos.

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When we went to Alexander Falls, we drove a bit further up the road and found the signs for the Whistler Olympic Park.  The park was closed when we visited.  But in winter the park is open and offered 90 kilometres of cross-country ski trails and 30 kilometres of snowshoeing trails.

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We were sure there were many other Olympic sites around Whistler.  Some were there for historic purposes.  Yet others have been re-purposed.

Some Great Options For Hiking In Whistler BC

We found so many great waterfalls on our road trip from Toronto to Vancouver.  But we were always excited when we found more on our travels.  While it rained for most of our 3 day visit, we found many options for hiking in Whistler and enjoyed the waterfalls we found – Shannon Falls, Nairn Falls, Brandywine Falls and Alexander Falls.  

But not all of our time was spent hiking.  Our resort stay at Westin Whistler Resort and Spa provided a great spot to relax.  The proximity to the Whistler Village gave us a great spot to wander.  The Fall colours were a great draw on a visit to BC in the Fall.  And there were several Olympic sites for sports enthusiasts. 

From Whistler we headed for a long stay in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast in BC.  And hoped the rain had moved on!

Have you gone hiking in Whistler BC?  Did you have a favourite spot to visit?

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70 Comments

  1. Wonderful autumn color pictures. I find it amazing that at some places there is already a lot of autumn foliage while some other places still look like summer – lush and green. To be honest I do not understand the fascination many people have with waterfalls – but I have to admit the waterfalls in Whistler look interesting. Some of them “snake” through the landscape instead of just “falling” down.

    • We loved being in BC in the fall as the season changed. We always love as the colour changes the green to a mixed palette. We do love when we find rushing waterfalls. But there were some interesting ones winding in the valleys around Whistler.

  2. Whistler has some pretty great hikes with amazing views. Shannon Falls looks so beautiful, I would definitely like to stop there as well. Maybe even take the gondola up if I have time. I also like the hike to Nairn Falls, that looks spectacular as well. Alexander Falls seems like another great place to hike to. It looks like you have discovered some pretty amazing waterfalls around Whistler.

  3. Whistler is a fantastic town, with breathtaking scenery and fabulous resorts. I visited it in summer, but I spent there only two days, it was too short to do all the hiking which you mentioned, but I hope to revisit this area. The village is charming, and the Olympic sites are great. We did a hike to Nairn Falls. Unfortunately, the weather was terrible and we didn’t go to Alexander Falls. It seems so spectacular. You had a great trip!

    • We too did our first visit in the summer. So it was great to go back in the Fall as the leaves were changing. And we were glad we could see so many outdoor spots …. even in the rain.

  4. It seems like Whistler, British Columbia, is a gorgeous resort with lots of excitement! Shannon Falls is a worthwhile stop because it is utterly stunning. I wanted to take a cable car ride because it looked enjoyable. I adore autumnal hues, and Whistler Village has by far the most beautiful ones. What a fantastic journey!

  5. Ooh! Fall seems like such a perfect time to visit. The waterfalls and the gondola are right up my alley. They’re a great way to immerse yourself into nature while getting great photos. So gorgeous!

  6. This is my kind of trip. I love hiking, waterfalls, mountains, and scenic gondolas. Plus I really enjoy having a kitchen to enjoy making some meals. Of course, I like trying restuarant cuisine, but going out for every meal while on a trip is exhausting.

    • I agree with you about having a kitchen. When we travel for long periods of time we get very tired of eating out all the time. The Westin Whistler was a great base to explore all the things to see and do around.

  7. Wow! I admire for wanting to go out of your room and explore the outdoors. I can definitely just sleep there all day. LOL

    Indeed, there are many hiking trails/ areas to explore and I would love to see the Brandywine Falls. It looks beautiful and the view is breathtaking over the Cheakamus River.

    Thank you for sharing sharing your wonderful trip. Enjoyed reading it.

  8. It must be particularly mesmerizing to hike there in autumn as the leaves change color. It already shows in some of your beautiful pictures.
    Since my accident last year, I’m very cautios when it comes to hiking and I have the impression that those trails are quite smooth. Also, the signs are really helpful – it’s a huge difference between a relaxed walk and a serious hike. Either way, the food is the perfect addition to a day out in the woods, right?!

    • Most of the hikes were reasonable. A little more tricky in the rain. But all worth the walk to see the great options for hiking in Whistler. And yes, we were well fed to head out on our travels.

  9. Whistler is one of my favourites for hiking! Each waterfall you’ve highlighted here is so beautiful and worth the trek. Maybe someday I’ll do the 23K hike from Brandywine to Whistler 🙂

  10. What an amazing trip you got to see the 3rd highest waterfall in BC. Shannon Falls looks incredible. I wonder which one would you prefer Shannon falls or Brandywine Falls if someone has the option to pick one of the two waterfalls?

  11. Beautiful Autumn views! I have always wanted to visit Whistler and never made it so far. Those waterfalls and views are totally awesome. The autumn colors make it even better. Great pictures. 🙂

  12. It is quite a surprise when you head to ski-paradises in autumn. Those places are quite different and I can imagine your feelings! I really like resorts with spa when I’m on hiking trips, coz it the best to unwind after hiking. The 335m tall waterfall looks so majestic. The hike to Nairn falls sounds super thrilling. I like the idea of climbing rocks to reach the viewpoint. Bradywine is indeed super picturesque.

  13. Wow! I can’t wait to do some hiking in Whistler one day! Each of these hikes with falls are stunning but I think my favorites would be Shannon Falls and Brandywine Falls!

    • I am sure the waterfalls would look different at different times of year. We will have to check them out in Spring thaw one year. Hope you do get to do some hiking in Whistler one day.

  14. I went to Canada as a kid and for work, but never had the chance to go hiking. Your post is giving me all the inspiration to go back someday! These waterfalls looks amazing!

  15. Whistler seems like a great choice for a next place to visit. Despite the rain, you captured stunning photos at all of the Falls you visited. Shannon Falls and Nairn Falls are simply breathtaking. I’d also like to visit the Whistler Olympic Park.

  16. Whistler sounds like a lovely places to spend quality time, especially during autumn. Seeing the leaves changing colours is alway amazing. BC is definitely a hikers’ paradise. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Whistler looks like such a beautiful, picturesque area and I love the waterfalls! Would love to hike and explore. The colours of the foliage is magnificent.

  18. Wow, these hikes and waterfalls look gorgeous. My husband is taking my sons skiing to Whistler in January, and now you are making me want to join them. I didn’t want to ski, but I would love to hike, and I love waterfalls. Hmmmmm. Thanks for the suggestion.

  19. This is so close for me. We used to get up there more when our kids were little…I need to go back and enjoy some hikes. It’s such a beautiful area in all seasons!

  20. Reading this while sitting in a cafe in Vancouver! I considered flying out to whistler the next days so your post came in just in time! :))

  21. It’s interesting how I’d never before realized Whistler had all this natural beauty and could be good for hiking. I’ve only heard of it as a ski resort until now but wow! Those waterfalls look amazing, and I love the fall foliage as well. I hope one day I’d be able to splash out on a luxury resort, but I’d be happy enough just to backpack and camp through the area for now.

    • We do love to explore ski resorts off season and discover all they offer. And at Whistler we found so many great outdoor sights. There are some great camping spots if you want to stay closer to nature.

  22. Wow, I had never heard about this resort destination! Whistler looks like so much fun, especially during this season with all the colorful foliage and cold weather. My British Columbia bucket list keeps growing and growing!

  23. What a wonderful fall getaway to Whistler! Mountains, plus fall foliage, what more could you ask for! I’ve never heard of Shannon Falls, and that it’s the 3rd highest waterfall in BC is definitely a reason to seek it out! And, it sure is beautiful. I must remember this, as I’m due for a west coast trip!

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