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Alexander Falls - Hiking in Whistler

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Alexander Falls Provincial Park


Alexander Falls Provincial ParkAlexander 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 Alexander Falls Viewing Areaof 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.

Alexander Falls is certainly one of the nicest spots for a picnic in Whistler.  The picnic areas are numerous, the surrounding forest is gorgeous and wild and Alexander Falls crashes loud and beautiful in the background.  Several picnic tables are located in forested clearings that were once used as campsites, so if you have a big group, you will have lots of room to spread out and enjoy the surroundings.

Alexander Falls in WhistlerThere is a nice information board with as short history of the areas surrounding Alexander Falls, complete with museum-like pictures of the regions logging history.  One depicts, "A Land of Giants" and describes, with photos, how incredibly huge trees were cut down and moved.  One picture from 1910, shows 10 men sitting on an enormous, felled tree and looking tiny by comparison.  The depiction goes on to show how First Nations people felled trees as long as 8000 years ago.

The history of logging continues to present day logging practices in British Columbia and around Whistler are depicted in another nice museum-like mural on BC's "Green Advantage" and sustainable future.

The drive to Alexander Falls is very nice.  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.Alexander Falls Map

The Alexander Falls viewing platform and picnic area was redesigned and reconstructed just before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.  Some of the Nordic competitions took place just a five minute drive north of Alexander Falls.  The facilities are still in operation and open to visitors year-round.  There is a cafe and visitor centre well worth visiting.

The access road to Whistler Olympic Park is blocked by a security gate after hours so keep that in mind when going.  The hours change seasonally.  In the summer they are open 10am to 4:30pm daily and in the winter 9am to 4:30pm weekdays.  Check their website for current opening hours as their opening hours change annoyingly often.

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.

Aerial View of Alexander Falls in Whistler

Parking and Facilities at Alexander Falls


Lots of Free Parking at Alexander FallsThe free parking lot at Alexander Falls is enormous.  Keep in mind that it is a day-use only parking area and camping or campfires are prohibited.  If you are looking for a place to park overnight in the area the possibilities are endless.  The Callaghan Valley is very wild, devoid of people and the spider-web of logging roads that cover the valley run for hundreds of kilometres.  You often spot a camper van parked just off of Callaghan Valley Road on one of dozens of large, gravel areas that lead to logging roads.  When you drive to Alexander Falls you will notice several of these massive pull out areas, two of which are just south of the turnoff(on the right) to Alexander Falls.  Decades of logging activity in the Callaghan Valley have resulted in beautiful and accessible areas.  The logging roads are, however, very bad and don't expect to be able to drive a large camper to Callaghan Lake (see below), however Madeley Lake may be possible for a camper to get to, if you are a brave driver.

Alexander Falls is No Longer Tent FriendlyCallaghan Lake Provincial Park - Campsite Aerial VideoBefore the Olympic remodelling of 2009, there were several campsite areas at Alexander Falls.  They have now been replaced with several secluded picnic tables amongst the trees.  Picture a tent where each picnic table sits and you will recall what a beautiful campsite area Alexander Falls once was.  The area is very beautiful and possibly with the new, easier access resulting from the paved road, the campsites would be too busy and overrun with campers.  This may be the reason for Alexander Falls now being strictly day-use only, no camping and no campfires.  There are however, plenty of beautiful and free campsite alternatives very close by.  Callaghan Lake and Madeley Lake are both located just a short drive from Alexander Falls and are excellent free, wilderness camping areas.  Callaghan Lake is a 6k drive north of Alexander Falls and Madeley about 4k.  See the map below for directions.  Both are easy to find and the turnoff is just a couple hundred metres north of the Alexander Falls parking area.

Toilet Facilities at Alexander Falls

There are two large and regularly serviced outhouses at Alexander Falls.  Just a 5 minute drive north of Alexander Falls is the beautiful Whistler Olympic Park with proper washrooms and even a nice cafe.  The Brandywine Cafe is open various hours depending on the season.  Usually 9-4:30pm daily and has hot and cold beverages and a pretty good selection of food such as pizza by the slice and sandwiches.  Unfortunately outside of Whistler Olympic Park's opening hours the access road is barred by a gate so you can't even get close after hours.

Alexander Falls  is Dog FriendlyAlexander Falls and everywhere in the Callaghan Valley is dog friendly.  Unlike Garibaldi Park across the valley beyond Whistler, the Callaghan Bear on the Callaghan Valley Road near Alexander FallsValley is wild and remote and dogs are welcome everywhere.  You do have to exercise caution however and bears, both black bears and grizzly bears are numerous.  Grizzly bears are reclusive and seldom seen, however, black bears are frequently spotted, especially along the Callaghan Valley Road.  For the most part, they will avoid humans, however, dogs tend to antagonize bears and make them potentially dangerous.  If you bring your dog to Alexander Falls and the surrounding areas, be very cautious.  Have a good look around for bears before letting your dog out of your vehicle.  If you don't and your dog spots a bear, and out-of-control situation will almost certainly occur.  Separating your dog from a bear can be extremely difficult and usually involves the dog owner having to get in between the two animals, putting yourself and your dog in a life threatening situation.  Keep that in mind and exercise caution.

The Drive to Alexander Falls is Great for Bear WatchingAlexander Falls is one of several amazing waterfalls in Whistler.  Located up in the Callaghan Valley, the viewpoint to the falls is just steps from where you park.  The Callaghan Valley is located just a 15 minute drive south of Whistler Village and is also home to Whistler Olympic Park.  The drive to the falls from Whistler Village takes about 40 minutes one-way, but it is well worth it.  The drive up the valley is very scenic and the stretch of road near Alexander Falls is a well known place to spot bears in the summer and fall months.  It is not unusual to see several bears on the drive to the falls.  Callaghan Lake and Northair Mine are also in the vicinity if you are after some adventure.

Alexander Falls - Driving Directions & Map


Alexander Falls MapPrinter, smartphone and tablet friendly.  Designed to fit standard printers and copiers.  To print: Right click on the map below, save image as, save to desktop, then open the image and print on standard size printer paper.  Cell coverage is reliable on the road and at the viewpoint to Alexander Falls so you will be able to access the internet if you have a data plan, however saving this map to your smartphone or tablet might be helpful.

From Whistler Village: Drive south on the Sea to Sky highway, 13.5 kilometres from Village Gate Boulevard, turn right onto the new Callaghan Valley access road at the sign to Whistler Olympic Park.  Follow this road for 8km, keep an eye out on your left for a little sign that directs you to Alexander Falls.  The sign/turnoff is about 1km before Whistler Olympic Park.

From Vancouver/Squamish: Head north on Highway 99 towards Whistler. Turn left onto the new Callaghan Valley access road at the sign for Whistler Olympic Park, 40 kilometres from the set of lights at Garibaldi Way in Squamish (Look for the Petro-Canada gas station in Squamish). Follow this road for 8km, keep an eye out on your left for a little sign that directs you to Alexander Falls.  The sign/turnoff is about 1km before Whistler Olympic Park.

Alexander Falls Driving Directions and Map

Other Whistler Area Waterfalls


Brandywine Falls - More Whistler WaterfallsMore Whistler Area WaterfallsBrandywine 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, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park 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.  The parking lot is immediately off the highway and the short 1 kilometre Rainbow Falls - More Whistler Waterfallstrail 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.   Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is attached to the wonderful Sea to Sky Trail which runs between and beyond Whistler andShannon Falls in Squamish South of Whistler Squamish.  It is a wide, gravel biking and hiking trail that will eventually extend north to Pemberton. 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 Wedgemount Falls in Whistlera 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 LakeNairn Falls - More Whistler Waterfalls trail is the most arduous and constantly steep.  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.  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 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.

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