Whistler has an amazing selection of easy snowshoeing trails. Some are easy and obvious to find, but most are well hidden and just known locally. This list tries to pick out the best and most convenient places to snowshoe. These are easy and relatively short, suitable for kids or adults that just want a relaxing, yet beautiful walk in the woods.
The Blueberry Trail is a great example of a short and easy snowshoe trail that arrives at stunning views. Skiers and ice skaters are distant specks far below on Alta Lake and the sun setting over Mt Sproatt are sensational. The trail is fairly easy as you gradually climb Blueberry Hill from either the Whistler neighbourhood of Whistler Cay, or at the other, more scenic end of the trail in Alta Vista. This wonderful, dog friendly snowshoeing trail is well hidden despite being on all the Whistler maps you see in the Village. It is just a five minute drive away from the Village. The most convenient starting point is to drive to Whistler Cay and park at the end of Crabapple Drive where you will see a small trailhead sign in the trees. You really only need snowshoes if there has been a lot of snowfall just before you go. If there hasn't been, the deep tree cover and occasional walking traffic will pack down the snow and make snowshoes unnecessary. Another fantastic and very easy snowshoeing trail in Whistler starts at the end of Lorimer Road in Whistler Cay. The less than five minute drive from the Village gets you to a free parking area at the dead end of Lorimer Rd and the Valley Trail runs in three directions from here. One direction goes to the Whistler Golf Course, another goes to Meadow Park and the third direction goes to Rainbow Park. These sections of the Valley Trail are never plowed and are beautiful for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. There is a very obvious and nice signpost directing you where Rainbow Park is and it is just a short, .8k snowshoe walk from where you park. Rainbow Park is in a beautiful setting on Alta Lake facing Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in the distance and even Wedge Mountain further left. Near Rainbow Park is another wonderful place to snowshoe. Rainbow Falls is about a 20 minute walk from Rainbow Park. You go through the parking lot and then turn right on Alta Lake Rd. After about 15 minutes you will see the trailhead and parking to Rainbow Lake on your left. You can drive here directly by taking the Alta Lake Road by either joining it from just south of Creekside (4k south of Whistler Village) or by going through the neighbourhood of Alpine which is north of Whistler Village. From the trailhead to Rainbow Falls is just a short and beautiful hike through deep forest along a crashing river to the picturesque, winter wonderland that is Rainbow Falls in the winter. These are the main easy snowshoeing trails that are very close and convenient to Whistler Village. If you don't mind driving a bit further there are three more snowshoeing trails that are as good or better. Certainly considered easy snowshoeing trails, but longer, more to see, and closer to what might be called moderately difficult snowshoeing trails. The first is Nairn Falls. This beautiful park is a 20 minute drive north of Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. Easy to find even in the winter. The parking lot gate will be closed and buried in snow so you just have to park on the edge of the highway and walk/snowshoe to the falls. The beautiful trail is 1.2k long and runs along the beautiful Green River to Nairn Falls where there is a fantastic viewing area. Back through Whistler and just 10 minutes south of Whistler Village are two amazing and easy to moderately difficult snowshoeing trails are located. The Whistler Train Wreck is an amazing area of train wreckage that has been painted into an amazing art exhibit of sorts. A 5k (roundtrip) trail takes you through the amazing wreckage that lays along the beautiful Cheakamus River, which is an attraction on its own. In the same area, though across the Sea to Sky Highway there is a beautiful snowshoeing route that takes you along the amazing Cheakamus River for 2k, then crosses this massive, crashing river by a suspension bridge then back to the trailhead/parking on the other side of the river along beautiful forested trails. This is a beautiful trail that goes relatively unnoticed for most of the winter in Whistler despite being well marked, signed and convenient to snowshoe. Further down the Sea to Sky Highway, just 20 minutes south of Whistler Village is Brandywine Falls. This spectacular waterfall is visited by tens of thousands of people in the summer, yet just a handful in the winter months. The entrance gate is buried under a mountain of plowed snow from December to March, but it is very accessible if you have snowshoes. There is a plowed area near the mountain of snow where the gate is with lots of room to park and once you climb over this snow you find yourself in a beautiful, mostly untouched field of snow and a 1k trail to Brandywine Falls.
Rainbow Falls is a fantastic way go get yourself into some deep snow quickly from Whistler Village. The trailhead is located just a couple hundred metres from Rainbow Park on Alta Lake which is another great place to snowshoe in Whistler. The Rainbow Falls trailhead is the same as the Rainbow Lake trailhead, located halfway along Alta Lake Road on the far side of Alta Lake. The Rainbow Falls Trail is short, varied and relatively easy. This well used trail never goes in a straight line and goes up and down through a beautiful and deep forest. There are no signs to Rainbow Falls and you will just see signs for Rainbow Lake and Madely 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. Take the right fork which branches off of the Rainbow Lake trail. Within a couple minutes you will hear the falls. There is a bridge that goes over the river where you can see some of the falls. But further along, without crossing the bridge, you will come to the falls and end of the Rainbow Falls trail. This area is fairly popular even in Winter so the well marked trail is easy to follow and the snow on the trail usually well packed down. Some parts are steep, but the shortness of the trail makes it suitable as a family snowshoeing trail.
Why should you snowshoe/hike to Rainbow Falls?
Rainbow Falls is just 15 minutes from Whistler Village and is an easy trail through some very wild and deep forests. You can get close enough to touch the falls. Though they are not large, they stretch for some distance and can be viewed from various vantage points. Try to pick a sunny day as the trail reflects the light magnificently and you feel as if you are in a winter wonderland, which of course you are.
The Blueberry Trail is a relatively unknown, though amazing trail that ascends up to a marvellous cliff viewpoint, high above Alta Lake. Geographically, the Blueberry Trail is opposite of Rainbow Park and can be accessed by either the neighbourhoods of Whistler Cay (at the end of Crabapple Dr), or at the other end of the trail in Alta Vista (at the end of St Anton Way). Either trailhead is just a five minute drive from Whistler Village. It gets its name from the hill that rises above it named Blueberry Hill. So well hidden that you won't find either trailhead unless you search for them despite being on all the maps in Whistler. The trailheads do have small trail signs and once you are on the trail it is easy to follow, even in deep snow. Though at times steep, the trail is short. The high point of the trail, about midway, is only 1.2k from either trailhead. There is a small clearing at the edge of quite a high cliff that is a great vantage point to the lake. People skating, cross country skiing or walking appear as little black dots scattered across the frozen lake. As snowshoeing trails go, the easy and short Blueberry Trail is a great, fun, short workout to a beautiful vantage point. Dogs are allowed here as well.
Why should you snowshoe/hike the Blueberry Trail?
It is close and convenient to Whistler Village and has some amazing views over Alta Lake. Family friendly (easy) and dog friendly. A wonderful place to share a beer and see the sun set over Alta Lake.
Brandywine Falls, though extremely popular in the summer and fall months, hides behind a massive, snow plow formed, wall of snow from (usually) December to March. The gate to the parking lot is closed and buried. Attempting to hike to the falls on foot is tough as you find yourself thigh deep in snow right from the start. But if you have snowshoes this trail becomes a winter paradise. The snowplows intentionally clear a winter parking area for the park near the (buried) gate. You just have to scramble over the mountain of snow, cross the parking lot and follow the signs. The easy-to-follow trail begins just across the parking lot. You then follow the trail to the bridge over the beautiful Cheakamus River and then turn right and snowshoe less than a kilometre along the wide and easy to follow trail until you reach the impressive and hugely beautiful viewing platform across from this thundering waterfall. Brandywine Falls is amazing to see in the summer, but in the winter it is even more extraordinary. The sounds are echoed louder as the sounds bounce of the frozen chasm the water falls into, yet the area is magically serene with rarely anyone to break the peacefulness of the park.
Why should you snowshoe to Brandywine Falls?
It is very convenient when driving to or from Whistler, impressive and fun to see in the winter. An amazing stop on the Sea to Sky Highway that no one notices in the winter months. Brandywine Falls is a very kid friendly place to snowshoe as its easy and short, yet with lots to see.
Nairn Falls, located just 20 minutes north of Whistler Village is a nice, relaxing hiking/snowshoeing trail to a nicely constructed viewing area in the midst of Nairn Falls. The popular trail is actually hike-able year-round, so you most likely will not need your snowshoes unless there has been lots of snow just before you go. The nice trail runs along Green River for 1.2k. The trail is well marked and doesn't gain any significant elevation, making it a very easy, kid friendly trail. The viewing area is located within a bend in the falls/river and the churning waters rushes around where you stand, far below. The water crashes through deep cuts in the rock and rushes into deep, green pools. There is a wonderful sign depicting how the area was formed over thousands of years. A short side trail from the main viewing area takes you over to an abrupt edge, where you can look down on the Green River below. Railings have been constructed as a precaution to prevent people falling off the cliffs. Nairn Falls is one of several amazing waterfalls in the Whistler area that can be seen year-round. Other waterfalls in the area include, Rainbow Falls near Whistler Village, Alexander Falls and Brandywine Falls, both about 30-40 minutes south of Whistler.
Why should you snowshoe/hike to Nairn Falls?
Nairn Falls is a relaxing and constantly interesting and beautiful hike. Very kid friendly and makes for a nice escape from Whistler. Close to Pemberton, a great little town that lays in a beautiful glacial valley just a ten minute drive past Nairn Falls.
Rainbow Park is one of the hugely popular swimming beaches in Whistler in the summer. In the winter it is a spectacular vantage point across Alta Lake to Whistler and Blackcomb. The beautiful, artistic ski run lines snake down the mountains and by December Alta Lake is usually completely frozen. Hockey games occur at various spots on the lake and the Valley Trail leading to and from Rainbow Park is buried in snow and unplowed all winter. When the heavy snow of December comes, the valley trail becomes a snowshoeing and cross country ski trail. It can still be hiked, but once you reach Rainbow Park you will be knee deep in snow. The piers that are so well used in summer are frozen in place and, like everything else are buried in snow. Rainbow Park is a very easy, less than 1 kilometre trail from the parking area at the dead end of Lorimer Rd to the park. It is a relaxing trail that doesn't change in elevation. It runs for a while along the River of Golden Dreams then crosses the river on a cute little bridge giving you your first view of Alta Lake. Just past the bridge on your left you can walk to a viewing platform over the lake. Back on the trail it is just another five minutes to Rainbow Park at the wonderfully beautiful setting on Alta Lake.
Why should you snowshoe/hike to Rainbow Park?
Rainbow Park is fantastic anytime of the year. Easy to snowshoe, easy to get to, and beautiful, very beautiful. It is also very close to the Village and about as family friendly of a snowshoe/hike as you can get. Just a 5 minute drive from Whistler Village to the end of Lorimer Rd and the free parking next to the Valley Trail which runs in three directions from here. Rainbow Park, Whistler Golf Course and Meadow Park all can be reached from this three-way trailhead. There is no camping fees in the winter and you will likely have the whole valley to yourselves.