Snowshoeing in Nairn Falls Provincial Park
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.
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. Most visitors to Nairn Falls Provincial Park just see Nairn Falls, however, to the left, beyond the campsites the Green River is beautiful. A short trail takes you down to a wide bend in the river and you find yourself in what looks like a large beach.
It is a hidden bit of paradise with the crystal clear, green water flowing over polished rocks. The whole are is in almost constant sunlight despite being in the middle of the forest. On warm, summer days you will find people swimming, sipping beers on the rock cliffs across the river and generally having an amazing time in this usually forgotten corner of the park.
The 180 kilometre, Sea to Sky Trail that runs from Squamish, up through Whistler to well beyond Pemberton passes through Nairn Falls Provincial Park. You will spot the Sea to Sky Trail signs at a couple spots in the park with excellent maps showing you where you are about to go. The trails around the park have for years been gaining popularity as bike trails and you will spot Lumpy's Epic ascend quickly in the direction of Pemberton's One Mile Lake.
Dogs are welcome at, however bikes are not permitted on the trail leading to Nairn Falls. It wouldn't be a very exciting trail on a bike and there are plenty better trails to ride on the opposite side of the campground. Campsite amenities include a hand operated water pump, picnic tables and pit toilets everywhere you turn.
You would have trouble finding and better or more convenient place to pull in and have a picnic than at Nairn Falls. Picnic tables are everywhere and often overlooking the beautiful River. There is no charge for entry to the park, day use or for parking. The only fees in the park are for overnight camping.
Directions to Nairn Falls Provincial Park
Nairn Falls is very easy to find, just a 20-30 minute drive north of Whistler. From Whistler Village, zero your odometer at Village Gate Boulevard and head north on Highway 99(towards Pemberton), 28 kilometres from Whistler Village you will see the parking lot on your right for Nairn Falls Provincial Park. In the winter the campground is closed and the entry gate to the parking lot is closed. There is plenty of room to park outside the yellow gate at edge of the Sea to Sky Highway.
More Snowshoe Trails in Whistler
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, if you don't mind the drive, is one of the nicest snowshoe trails near Whistler. Considerably more challenging than Nairn Falls, however only moderately difficult and gets you right into deep forest and deep snow fast. It is located about an hours drive further north of Nairn Falls. Joffre Lakes can be a challenging trail if the weather is very cold, raining or snowing. If you are new to snowshoeing, you should try another, easier trail as in bad weather you can get dangerously lost. If you include the drive to and from Whistler, this is an all day outing. If you are lucky enough to get sunny weather, this trail is beautiful, and the drive to the trailhead is very scenic as well. Closer to Whistler Village, Parkhurst Ghost Town is an amazing trail any time of the year and only a bit more challenging than the trail to Nairn Falls. It is located just a short, 10 minute drive north of Whistler Village and is, for the most part an easy snowshoe trail. If you can find your way to the marked trail from the unmarked route where you can park, then you will find the trail well marked with flagging tape. Parkhurst was a logging town several decades ago that has been long abandoned. Now it exists as an interesting array of old machinery and a couple ancient looking houses. What makes this trail amazing is not just the ghost town itself, but the town's setting. High up on a ridge overlooking Green Lake, the views are sensational. Depending on how deep the snow is and how close you park to the Parkhurst trailhead, expect to take two or three hours, roundrip on an average snowy day. Parkhurst is a short drive north of Whistler Village, but south of the Village exists another similarly beautiful trail. The Whistler Train Wreck is another ghostly area of decaying wreckage left from the 1950's. A train slid off the tracks here and down along the beautiful Cheakamus River. Seven interestingly mangled train cars now lay in over a kilometre of forest. The decades have added an amazing array of artwork on these massive train cars. The trail to Train Wreck takes you through a very interesting zig-zagging route through the wilderness south of Function Junction. You pass under the Sea to Sky Highway via the highway overpass then along various stunning viewpoints of the Cheakamus River. In January the Cheakamus River is wonderfully frozen with torrents of water crashing under, over and through the ice. Train Wreck, roundtrip should take you less than an hour at a quick pace and a couple hours at a leisurely walk. If it hasn't snowed in more than three days, you should be fine doing the hike without snowshoes as the trail will be packed down by others. Across the highway from Train Wreck is another beautiful trail that follows along the edge of Cheakamus River for two kilometres then crosses a suspension bridge and returns along the other side. Cheakamus River is a spectacular, crashing and huge river that often has vertical cliffs on either side, making the trail amazing to hike. In January the trail is often buried in over a metre of snow, making it quite a winter adventure. The trail is fairly popular, so if it hasn't snows significantly in Whistler in the previous couple days, you likely won't need to bother with snowshoes. Rainbow Falls, just north of Whistler Village is another easy snowshoe trail to try. This always up and down and zig-zagging trail is possibly the easiest way to see deep, wilderness snow in Whistler in the winter months. Snow accumulates deep and fast here, it seems. And the short trail to Rainbow Falls, buried deep in this winter wonderland is located in a cute little wintery oasis. Along with Rainbow Falls, the zig-zagging trail takes you to a bridge over the river, with more great views. Kids love this trail as it is easy, yet very scenic and adults love it for the same reasons. Rainbow Falls can be done in less than and hour and is just a short 10 minute drive north of Whistler Village. Located very near to Rainbow Park, another beautiful place to visit in January or any time of the year. If you continue beyond Rainbow Falls along the Rainbow Trail as if going to Rainbow Lake, you will come to the Flank Trail. The Rainbow Sproatt Flank Trail cuts along the edge of Mount Sproatt. Once you get on the Flank Trail from the Rainbow Trail, you have hiked most of the elevation. The Flank Trail then runs along with amazing views across to Whistler, Blackcomb and Wedge Mountain. Below you, you look down on Alta Lake and tiny people, like ants, skating on the lake. Endless viewpoints along the Flank Trail slow your progress and you will likely only hike or snowshoe for a couple kilometres before taking in enough sights to turn back home. This trail is well marked and very wide, making it easy to follow and navigate...
More Whistler Waterfalls
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.