Easy & Short Dog Friendly Hiking Trails
Whistler is an incredible place to hike, unfortunately dogs are not welcome in Garibaldi Park where most of the best hiking is. This is a courtesy to the sensitive animals such as bears and marmots that inhabit the park. There are a few great spots outside the park, though less known or a bit of a drive away from Whistler. This is a summary of the best dog friendly walks and hikes in and around Whistler.
Not included here is the wonderful, 40 kilometre Valley Trail that runs in several directions from the Village. Around the Whistler Golf Course, out to Green Lake, Alta Lake, Alpha Lake and Nita Lake as well as the spider web of trails in the Lost Lake area. All the Valley Trails are dog friendly and well laid out and very convenient from the Village.
If you and your dog want to get out into the wilderness to some of Whistler's hiking trails then these are some good bets. These dog friendly hikes are short and easy. For moderate, long and even difficult trails try here.
#1 The Whistler Train Wreck Best Easy Dog Friendly Hikes
It is hard to say enough about the Whistler Train Wreck. It is fantastic for so many reasons. First, its location. Just a short 10 minute drive gets you to the trailhead parking, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway on Alpha Lake Road in Function Junction.
To get to the trailhead for the Whistler Train Wreck, drive 8k south of Whistler Village. At the traffic lights at Function Junction turn right onto Alpha Lake Road, drive across the train tracks and drive for about 200 metres. At the sudden 90 degree right bend in the road you will see Olive's Market on your left. This is an amazing new Organic grocery store. There is a huge parking lot to the left and behind this big building. Take a look in Olives Market, they have amazing coffee and unbelievably good cakes, cookies, etc, as well as organic grocery store items.
From this parking lot you may spot the short cut to the Flank Trail. Immediately you will spot the old sign indicating Flank Trail to the right and Train Wreck straight. If you don't spot this short cut right away, just walk back to Alpha Lake Road, turn right (onto Alpha Lake Road) and you will immediately see the little Flank Trail, trailhead sign and the well used dirt trail descend into the trees along the river.
Graffiti style paint brings the dingy wreckage to life with shockingly beautiful colours. The huge wrecks are enormous up close and mangled. Some on their sides, some upside down. Each one (there are several) is an interesting adventure to explore. A sort of wilderness art exhibit. The wreckage stretches for almost a kilometre and can bring out the kid in anyone.
The area is very kid friendly as the trails are wide and generally flat. There are several extraordinarily surreal places to put up a tent or, as many often do, sleep on the edge of the incredible river or even in a wrecked car. There are indications in all the cars of thousands of past gatherings which gives the place a charm that seems characteristically Whistler. The Train Wreck is a spectacularly beautiful and interesting place, just like Whistler.
Why should you take your dog to see the Whistler Train Wreck?
The Whistler Train Wreck is very convenient to Whistler as it is just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. The train wreckage covers a large area with lots to see. The trails can be hiked/run as long as 5k or as short as 1.5k.
#2 Ancient Cedars Best Easy Dog Friendly Hikes
Ancient Cedars often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler. Certainly the large numbers of centuries old, massive cedars found in much of the other Whistler area hikes makes looking for them on a specific hike less of a priority. For example, hike the short 3k trail to Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars. The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the Ancient Cedars Trail. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old.
The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5k up a bumpy logging road. As logging roads go it is not bad. If you are driving a car you should be OK as long as you take it slow. The Ancient Cedars trail is well marked and well worn and only gradually uphill for the 2.5k hike, trailhead to ancient forest. At the Ancient Cedars forest there is a short circle trail that takes you throughout the giants then leads you back to the main trail for the return journey.
The whole 5k Ancient Cedars roundtrip should take you less than two hours. Unlike most other Whistler hiking trails, Ancient Cedars is dog friendly. Unfortunately snow makes the road undrivable much of the year, so you can only reliably get up there July to October. Depending on the snowfall June and November are often possible as well.
Why should you hike Ancient Cedars?
The most impressive cedars in Whistler and a nice, easy and relaxing hike. Can be combined with a scenic drive north of Whistler to see the Green Lake viewpoint.
#3 Nairn Falls Whistler's Best Easy Dog Friendly Hikes
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 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. The campground is open May 11 - September 30. The other months the entry gate is locked to the park and a small, highway-side parking area is used to access the park. The charge for camping is $18 per party, per night, during the months the campground is open. Outside of that window there is obviously no charge and you won't be prohibited from camping during the off season. From the parking lot, a hiking trail also goes along the Green River in the opposite direction to Nairn Falls.
This 2k trail takes you to One Mile Lake excellent for swimming. Dogs are welcome at Nairn Falls Provincial Park, however bikes are not. There is a hand operated water pump, picnic tables and pit toilets. There is no charge for entry to the park or for parking. The only fees in the park are for overnight camping.
Why should you take your dog to Nairn Falls?
Nairn Falls is a short and easy, family friendly hike to a very impressive waterfall. Perfect for an afternoon drive/hike/picnic from Whistler. A relaxing and family friendly hike.
#4 Callaghan Lake Whistler's Best Easy Dog Friendly Hikes
Callaghan Lake is not really a hiking destination but more of a drive to campsite on a beautiful lake, and gateway to some beautiful intermediate hikes. The campsite is small and looks a bit like a parking lot with about 6 spots to put up a tent. There is a proper boat launch at the campsite and the lake is large and beautiful to paddle.
Surrounded by snowy mountains and nice rock outcrops the lake is good for fishing. If you have a canoe or boat of some kind you can find numerous, breathtaking places to camp. There is even a small island a short five minute paddle away that has a beautiful clearing for a tent, a fire ring and crystal clear water all around, deep enough to dive into.
If you don't have access to a boat you should pick up one of those hilarious, $20 inflatable boats that you find for sale everywhere and bring it along. You could easily use one to ferry your gear/tent across to this above mentioned island as a trail leads to the island with just a 8 metre gap of 1 metre deep water. Either that or walk with your pack above your head. Either way camping at this little island is an absolute paradise when compared to the parking lot of a campsite 300 metres away.
The hiking trails are minimal here due to the steepness and deep forest surrounding the lake. At the far end of the lake the rustic and steep Cirque Lake trail runs along the side of the crashing waterfall all the way to the breathtaking Cirque Lake. If you are motivated and have a canoe this is an amazing area to hike in mostly untouched wilderness where the alpine allows for hiking in several directions to countless lakes and glaciers beyond. The Callaghan Lake campsite is free to use and is notorious for being a bit rowdy during summer weekends, which does make it a friendly and fun place, but if you are looking for quiet and peace you may find it bothersome and should seek out one of the many, extraordinarily beautiful, boat accessed, backcountry tent sites.
Why should you take your dog to Callaghan Lake?
Convenient, drive right to the lake (4x4 is recommended due to the massive and frequent potholes as well as frequent, deep waterbars). If you have a boat or canoe you can explore many beautiful areas of the lake and take several short hikes.
#5 Brandywine Falls Whistler's Best Easy Dog Friendly Hikes
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, 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 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. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is attached to the wonderful 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.
Why should you take your dog to Brandywine Falls?
Brandywine Falls is amazingly beautiful and very easy and quick to hike to. Just a 20 minute pit stop on the drive to or from Whistler allows you to see this amazing falls. Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls, just south of Squamish are both convenient, quick and beautiful stops on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.