Sproatt East Snowshoe RatingThe Sproatt East trail is one of the nicest snowshoe trails in Whistler.  With the trailhead high up in Stonebridge, partway up the flank of Mount Sproatt, you start snowshoeing already high up in the wonderfully secluded wilderness overlooking Whistler valley.  Just a few metres along the trail you catch glimpses of Black Tusk far across the valley before entering the forest along the Sirloin trail.  Sirloin ascends through the forest and soon crosses the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail and connects to Darwin's trail.

  • Start high on the mountain
  • Many connecting trails
  • Dog friendly
  • Steep, but easy to follow
  • Rarely see any humans
  • Endless viewpoints
  • Vast wilderness to explore
  • Winter camping is amazing
  • Convenient from Whistler Village
  • Mostly steep trails

Whistler Snowshoe Trails

Blueberry Park Steep, Short, Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailBlueberry Trail  Snowshoe Easy DogBrandywine Falls  Snowshoe Easy DogCheakamus River  Elfin Lakes Moderate, Very Long Snowshoe TrailElfin Lakes  Steep, Short, Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailFlank Trail  Joffre Lakes Moderate, Steep Snowshoe TrailJoffre Lakes  Snowshoe Easy DogNairn Falls  Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailParkhurst Ghost Town  Steep, Short, Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailRainbow Falls  Rainbow Lake Moderate, Steep & Long Snowshoe TrailRainbow Lake  Rainbow Park Easy Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailRainbow Park  Steep Dog Friendly SnowshoeingSproatt East  Taylor Meadows Moderate, Steep Snowshoe TrailTaylor Meadows  Snowshoe Trail EasyModTrain Wreck  Wedgemount Lake Challenging, Steep Snowshoe TrailWedgemount Lake 

 Winter Hiking WhistlerJanuary  Winter Hiking WhistlerFebruary  Spring Hiking WhistlerMarch  Spring Hiking WhistlerApril  Spring Hiking WhistlerMay  Summer Hiking WhistlerJune  Summer Hiking WhistlerJuly  Summer Hiking WhistlerAugust  Fall Hiking WhistlerSeptember  Fall Hiking WhistlerOctober  Fall Hiking WhistlerNovember  Winter Hiking WhistlerDecember

Darwin's bends further up Sproatt along beautiful and elaborate, wooden boardwalks that zig-zag up a steep section.  Soon the trail emerges from the forest for the first of many beautiful views over the valley.  Darwin's merges onto Flank and soon crosses Nita Creek and the the easy to miss, unmarked Sproatt East trail extends up the left side of Nita Creek.  Mount Sproatt is a big, sloping mountain with dozens of beautiful plateaus that are quite easy to get to.  Back on Flank, just before you crossed Nita Creek there is a faint trail that ascends quickly up to the first of many beautiful plateaus overlooking the valley.  At just 1.4 kilometres from where you started, this plateau is a excellent destination on its own and on a sunny day it is paradise!  If winter camping is your thing, this spot is pretty hard to beat with its convenience and sweeping views of the valley looking across to Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain.  Nita Creek can be heard crashing about 40 metres below, hidden by snow covered treetops.  This plateau is fairly easy to reach on snowshoes and Sirloin, Darwin's and Flank are a steady ascent, but only moderately challenging snowshoe trails.  The Sproatt East trail gets progressively more challenging as you climb every steeper into the vast wilderness of Mount Sproatt.  Virtually unknown and rarely hiked, even in the summer.  despite this it is surprisingly well defined and well marked with tree ribbons.

Sproatt East Trail Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing Serenity on the Sproatt East Trail

Other snowshoe trails around Whistler such as Rainbow Lake, Rainbow Falls, Train Wreck, Joffre Lakes, Nairn Falls, Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows get busy and sometimes quite crowded, the Sproatt East trail is serene and beautiful.  Also, places like Joffre Lakes, Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows are usually full day trips, whereas Sproatt can be partly done in a couple hours.  The wonderful network of trails on Sproatt is comparable to Parkhurst Ghost Town, though access to Parkhurst in the winter is much less convenient when the road to the trailhead gets buried in snow.  Though you do get a few weeks in January and February when Green Lake freezes enough to walk across to Parkhurst, making it very easy and quick to get to.  The endless trail variations on Sproatt make it ideal for snowshoeing.  You can snowshoe only to the first plateau, a worthwhile destination on its own and just 1.4 kilometres from the trailhead.

Sproatt East First Plateau Winter

Sproatt East Trail Second Plateau

Or you can continue onto the Sproatt East trail  as it quickly ascends up to the much more challenging second plateau at 2.4km with considerably more impressive views.  If you are really into a challenging adventure and are prepared you can continue another 2.3 kilometres further up to the end of the Sproatt East trail.  The end of the trail opens up to the endless beautiful alpine of Mount Sproatt with the summit and the summit viewpoint just another kilometre past the end of the trail.  It is a tremendous workout even in the summer, but in the winter its an exhausting ascent of almost a thousand metres in just 5.5 kilometres!  Back down on the Flank Trail you can do still more variations to make your own snowshoe route.  If you turn right from Sirloin onto Flank, instead of going straight onto Darwin's you will come to a gorgeous section of the Flank Trail in just a couple kilometres.  A beautiful ridge juts out overlooking the valley along two parallel trails to Flank, A Rockwork Orange and Korova Milk Bar.  If you continue along Flank another kilometre you will connect to the Rainbow Trail where it overlaps the Flank Trail and leads to Rainbow Falls.

Flank Trail Snowshoeing View

Sproatt East Snowshoe Trail Map

Mount Sproatt Hiking Trail MapFinding your way to the Sproatt East trail is a bit tricky as there are no signs for the trail and the trailhead where you park your car is unmarked as well.  Despite the lack of signs, the route is fairly straight forward.  The unmarked trailhead is found high up in Stonebridge at the end of Stonebridge Place, where you will find free parking along the road.  A yellow gate marks the 200 metre access road that leads up to the start of the Sirloin trail which runs for 640 metres and connects to Darwin’s trail.  You follow Darwin’s for about 400 metres until it merges into the Flank Trail.  After a couple hundred metres you cross Nita Creek and almost immediately see the unmarked Sproatt East trail on your right.  There are no Sproatt East signs, but the trail is well worn and with plenty of trail markers.

Sproatt East Snowshoe Map v2

Sproatt East Trail Stats:

Driving There: 15 minutes south of Whistler Village(9.9 kilometres/6.1 miles)  Hiking Distance: 1.4 kilometres one way from the trailhead to the first plateau(steep, but not too challenging) or 2.4 kilometres to the second plateau(steep and challenging) or 5.5 kilometres to Sproatt summit(very steep and very challenging).  Hiking Time: 2 hours roundtrip first plateau or 3 hours roundtrip second plateau, or 4-6 hours roundtrip to Sproatt summit. Start Elevation: 813 metres/2667 feet.  First Plateau: 978 metres.  Second Plateau: 1173 metres.  Summit Elevation: 1834 metres/6017 feet.   Elevation Gain: 1021 metres/3350 feet.  Fees: None  Campsites: No  Camping Allowed: Not Officially  Difficulty: Moderate to challenging, very steep but short trail, easy to follow  Kid Friendly: Yes, short enough to be fun, lots to see  Stroller Friendly: No  Dog Friendly: Yes

Snowshoeing the Sproatt East Trail

Steep, Dog Friendly Snowshoe TrailThe Sproatt East trail branches off from Flank, which is reached by two short, connecting trails, Sirloin and Darwin's.  A short, but steep 160 metre access road leads from the end of Stonebridge Place to the marked trailhead for Sirloin.  Sirloin takes you steeply up through the forest for just 566 metres before crossing Flank and connecting to the start of Darwin's.  Darwin's is when the trail starts getting fun and interesting as there are a few elaborate bridges and boardwalks along the way.

Snowshoeing the Sirloin Trail

This one arcs sharply through the forest and bends back up to continue along the flank of Mount Sproatt. 

Darwin's Trail Snowshoeing

Darwin's continues gradually upward for a few minutes before opening up to this beautiful view of Whistler Valley. 

Sproatt East Darwin's Snowshoeing

Whistler Mountain directly across and Blackcomb Mountain over to the left.

Sproatt East View of Whistler Mountain

The trail heads back into the forest and connects to Flank and just before you cross Nita Creek you see a faint trail lead up to this beautiful spot overlooking the valley.  A series of big, snowy and fairly flat clearings perfect for a camp with a million dollar view.

Sproatt East Snowshoe View of Whistler

Black Tusk looks amazing with snowy mountains stretching to the horizon. 

Sproatt East MSR Access Tent View of Black Tusk

One side of this plateau is quite steep and Nita Creek can be heard crashing through the forest, but looking down you only see snowy treetops.

Mount Sproatt Winter Camping

The 1.4 kilometres from the trailhead to this first plateau is fairly steep the entire way, it is short enough to be overall fairly easy and only about 20 minutes from your car.  The second plateau is another 1.4 kilometres up the trail and much more challenging.  You have to drop back down to Flank and continue across Nita Creek where you will see the unmarked Sproatt East trail on your right.  For the first couple hundred metres you gradually ascend in a fairly straight line through the deep forest with Nita Creek on your right.  Once you cross the creek the trail gets considerably steeper and exhausting.

Sproatt East Snowshoe Trail v2b

The Sproatt East Trail in the Summer

Mount Sproatt is fantastic, partly because you never see the crowds of people that flock to other Whistler and Garibaldi Park hiking trails.  There are a few good reasons why it is so quiet.  First, many of the trails are relatively new bike trails built in just the last 10 years, so the mountain has not caught the attention of hikers in a big way yet.  Also, it is almost entirely focussed on biking instead of hiking.  You do see the occasional hiker on the Flank Trail, but for the most part hikers stick to the Rainbow Trail that cuts between Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain and leads to Rainbow Lake.  Another reason Sproatt is so quiet is that it lacks a spectacular mountain lake at the end of the trail like you get at Joffre Lakes, Wedgemount Lake, Cirque Lake and Garibaldi Lake.  You do get some beautiful little tarns on Sproatt, but nothing compared to the other well known lake hikes.  Another reason for seldom running into other hikers on Sproatt is the vastness of the trail network.  The Sproatt East access via Sirloin and Darwin's is just one of several trailheads available.  Back down the road along Stonebridge Drive you will pass Beaver Trail which connects to Cheap Thrills which takes you up to the Flank Trail not far from where Darwin's meets Flank. 

Sproatt East Map v9

Along Flank past the Sproatt East trail you will find several trails that rapidly ascend up Sproatt with great names like, Lord of the Squirrels, Up, Up and Away, and Into the Mystic.  As you can see in the map below the spider web of trails on Sproatt is staggering and extend around the west side of the mountain to the Callaghan Valley!

Mount Sproatt Detailed Map v5

Facilities on Mount Sproatt

Viewpoint on SproattThe Sproatt East Trail and Mount Sproatt are wonderfully wild and almost entirely devoid of human made structures.  There is the very nice viewing platform overlooking the valley just down from the summit of Sproatt.  For most hiking, biking or skiing on Sproatt this is the destination instead of the actual summit, several metres above and behind the viewpoint.  From the trailhead in Stonebridge the viewpoint is about 5.4km with an elevation gain of 880 metres.  The nearby summit of Sproatt is about 5.5km from the Stonebridge trailhead with an elevation gain of 1021 metres.  Way over on the west side of Sproatt there is a snowmobile/atv hut overlooking Sproatt Lake owned by a local guiding company.  The wonderful, gothic arch hut that was recently removed from Russet Lake is reportedly going to be rebuilt somewhere on Sproatt to act as a ranger cabin.  There are no dedicated rangers for Sproatt yet, however the increasing number of bikers, especially on the west side of the mountain, have developed a need for rangers to help with hurt or lost people.

Mount Sproatt Viewing Platform

Restrictions and Concerns for the Sproatt East Trail

No ATV's AllowedThere are not too many restrictions on Sproatt outside the watershed areas.  Of course fires are prohibited during the summer and some trails, including the Sproatt East trail don’t allow ATV’s or snowmobiles.  Camping is possibly prohibited as the Sproatt East trail lays within Whistler's municipal boundary on some maps, but goes unnoticed in the vastness of the mountain outside the watershed area.  Snowmobiling is popular on the west side of Sproatt and companies do tours all winter.  Dogs are allowed on the Sproatt East trail as it is entirely outside the watershed boundary.  This makes it one of the best dog friendly snowshoe trails in Whistler as Sirloin, Darwin's, Flank and the Sproatt East trail are seldom used in the winter and you drive a lot of elevation before you reach the trailhead parking.  There are plenty of variations as the trail network on Sproatt is quite vast and the Flank Trail extends southwest to the Callaghan Valley and northeast past Rainbow Mountain all the way to Ancient Cedars on Cougar Mountain!

Sproatt East Dog Friendly Snowshoeing

Wildlife on Sproatt

Wildlife on SproattBlack bears roam around on Sproatt in the summer and fall months, and in recent years there have been the occasional grizzly bear sighting in late summer and early fall.  This tends to happen on the west side of Sproatt and also around Hanging Lake and Madeley Lake, which are northwest of Rainbow Lake.  The sightings tend to cause a panic and signs go up at some trailheads preventing access due to grizzly bear in area.  The nearby Rainbow Trail to Rainbow Lake is the main access trail to Hanging Lake tends to be one of the main trail temporary closures every year.  Snowshoeing Sproatt in the winter you likely won't see a lot of wildlife, though you will spot a lot of animal tracks.  Lots of deer tracks, rabbit tracks and sometimes bobcat, cougar or wolf tracks can be found on the trail.

Getting to the Sproatt East Trailhead

Driving to the Sproatt East TrailheadFinding your way to the Sproatt East trail is a bit tricky as there are no signs for the trail and the trailhead where you park your car is unmarked as well.  Despite the lack of signs, the route is fairly straight forward.  From Whistler Village you drive south on the Sea to Sky Highway for 5.3 kilometres, turn right onto Alta Lake Road.  2.3 kilometres along Alta Lake Road turn left onto Stonebridge Drive.  Drive another 1.5 kilometres and turn left onto Stonebridge Place and drive another 800 metres until it ends at a roundabout.  You will see no parking signs along the roundabout, but parking is allowed along the side of the road just a few metres away.

Sproatt East Parking in Stonebridge

The yellow gate(pictured below) is the start of the trail which is actually a short access road to the water tower.  The access road is a fairly steep 160 metres to the start of Sirloin, where you will find an actual trailhead sign.

Sproatt East Trailhead Gate

Sproatt East Driving Directions Winter v2

More Whistler Snowshoe Trails

More Snowshoe TrailsThere are plenty of beautiful and free snowshoe trails in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  From the surreal paintings of Whistler Train Wreck to the magnificent mountain serenity of Wedgemount Lake in Garibaldi Park.  Trails range from extremely easy, like the short, flat trails to Brandywine Falls and Rainbow Park.  To challenging and long trails to places like Elfin LakesTaylor Meadows and Wedgemount Lake.  Whistler even has a growing network of snowshoe trails to Parkhurst Ghost Town on the far side of Green Lake.  There are a couple pay-use snowshoeing areas in Whistler, however most free trails are as good or better.  Whistler Train Wreck is an easy/moderate snowshoe trail that takes you through a deep forest, over Cheakamus River via a very pretty suspension bridge, and to a series of decades old, wrecked train cars.  Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park is another beautiful place to snowshoe.  Located at the south end of Garibaldi Park, the Elfin Lakes trailhead is found in Squamish.  The trail is not overly difficult, however it is quite long.  A consistently uphill, 11 kilometre(13.7 mile) trail through some spectacular scenery takes you to the marvelous Elfin Lakes hut.  For easier snowshoeing, Rainbow Falls is a good option.  Located just a short drive from Whistler Village, the Rainbow Trail is a beautiful trek through the forest in a winter wonderland to a hidden waterfall surrounded by deep pillows of powdery snow.  For more challenging snowshoeing, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is hard to beat.  A long, though beautiful drive into the mountains, north of Pemberton takes you to this moderately challenging, 11 kilometre(6.8mile) roundtrip snowshoe trail.  The frequently steep, winding trail takes you through a winter paradise and around, or over three frozen lakes.  Back in Whistler, an excellent place to snowshoe is to Parkhurst Ghost Town.  Sitting on the far side of Green Lake, Parkhurst was a thriving logging community several decades ago.  It has since been abandoned except for intermittent squatter communities over the years. 

Whistler Snowshoe Trails

Train Wreck - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Train Wreck Snowshoe RatingThe trail to Whistler Train Wreck is an easy, yet varied route through deep forest, across the nice Train Wreck bridge over Cheakamus River, to a stunning array of wrecked train cars. The trail from your car to the wrecks only takes about 15 minutes, however once you reach one wreck, you see another, then another. There are seven wrecks in total that are spread over an area about 400 metres long.  Along with the surreal train wrecks painted with stunning murals, you find yourself in a thick forest that runs along Cheakamus RiverCheakamus River is a beautiful, wild and crashing river that snakes past the train wrecks. Numerous side trails take you to some marvellous viewpoints, several metres above the rushing water below.  If you follow a trail past the wrecks, heading north or in the direction of Whistler Village, you will emerge at the train tracks. If you are adventurous you will then walk along, beside the tracks for a couple hundred metres and some truly breathtaking views of Cheakamus River.  Whistler Train Wreck is definitely one of the best easy, short and kid friendly snowshoe trails in Whistler.  Unfortunately it has become quite popular and the snow gets packed down quite fast on the trails and you generally don't need snowshoes for the main trail to the popular section of train cars near the bridge.  Most visitors don't explore past this point, which is a shame because the trails extend in both directions leading to more wrecked train cars as well as some stunning viewpoints overlooking Cheakamus River.  The Trash Trail is another very nice trail often overlooked around Train Wreck.  It runs along one side of Cheakamus River and past the gorgeous Train Wreck Falls.  In the other direction it leads you to the other Train Wreck trailhead shown on the map below. 

Whistler Train Wreck Winter Map v9

Train Wreck - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Blueberry Trail - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Blueberry Park is a relatively unknown, though very scenic trail that ascends quickly up to a cliff viewpoint high above Alta Lake.  Another trail hugs the shoreline of Alta Lake through a wonderfully deep forest past five secluded piers.  The trails connect a few hundred metres past the fifth pier, so you can continue to the north end of the park in Tapleys and Whistler Cay or loop back to the south trailhead off St. Anton Way.  Geographically, the Blueberry Trail is directly across Alta Lake from Rainbow Park.  It can be accessed from either end via the neighbourhoods of Whistler Cay at the end of Crabapple Drive, or in Alta Vista at the end of St Anton Way.  Either trailhead is just a five minute drive from Whistler Village and both are conveniently close to Whistler's Valley Trail.  If it has not snowed heavily in the last couple days, you will likely not need snowshoes for the Blueberry Trail as the snow will have been packed down by others.  Blueberry Park gets its name from the hill that rises above it named Blueberry Hill.  The park is well hidden despite being on all the maps in Whistler because both trailheads are found at the end of quiet streets.  The trailheads do have small trail signs and once you are on the trails they are 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, this one is a great, fun, short workout to a beautiful vantage point and five wonderful piers.  Dogs are allowed here as well.  Blueberry Park is a very scenic park on Alta Lake that most Whistler locals don't even know about.  If you have been to Rainbow Park you would have noticed four piers across Alta Lake surrounded by forest.  These public piers sit along the edge of Blueberry Park, with the Blueberry Trail running from one side of the forest to the other. 

Blueberry Park Snowshoeing Map v8

Blueberry Park - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Elfin Lakes - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Snowshoe Rating Elfin LakesElfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park is an absolutely phenomenal, though long, hiking, biking, snowshoeing and skiing trail that begins at the Diamond Head area in Squamish.  From Whistler Village, the trailhead is just over an hours drive away, located near the south end of Garibaldi ParkGaribaldi Provincial Park is the massive wilderness park of nearly two thousand square kilometres that stretches from Squamish to Pemberton.  If you are driving the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, Garibaldi Park will be the vast wilderness of snow-capped mountains on your right.  The Elfin Lakes trail is very well marked and maintained and leads to the wonderful, Elfin Lakes hut.  This amazing hut sleeps 33 and is solar powered and propane heated.  There is a charge of $15/person(payable online) to stay the night there which is a small price to pay for the beautiful comfort after the long, 11 kilometre snowshoe or hike to get there.  This area is very popular with skiers as well as snowshoers in the winter and deep snow covers the trail usually from November to June

Elfin Lakes Map v7

Elfin Lakes - Best Snowshoeing in Garibaldi Park

Wedgemount Lake - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Wedge Snowshoe RatingWedgemount Lake is a steep and difficult hike in the summer when there is no snow.  It doesn't require technical skill, but it is just exhausting.  You gain 1220 metres of elevation in just 7 kilometres(+2 in the winter) and hiking with a heavy pack takes about 2.5 to 3.5 hours to reach the lake.  In the winter, on snowshoes, the Wedgemount Lake trail is considerably harder, as well as a couple kilometres longer owing to the undrivable, snow buried access road.  The snow covered trail is hard to follow, even with frequent trail markers.  Also, on snowshoes a step on steep ground is one step forward, half a step backward.  You plod on slowly and with each step slipping back part way. If you can get past the difficulty of the exhausting winter trek to Wedgemount Lake you will reach an amazing paradise in the mountains.  The Wedgemount Lake hut is an extraordinary oasis of warmth in the middle of the beautiful Wedgemount Lake valley.  Anyone can use the hut, anytime.  It can sleep up to 8 reasonably comfortably and consists of two large tables on the lower level and a small loft that can fit four people.  Sporadically used by skiers in the winter, though rarely used by snowshoers due to the difficulty of the trail in the winter.  If you do make it up to Wedgemount Lake you will be rewarded with a phenomenally beautiful, snow filled mountain paradise of a valley.  The Wedgemount Lake trail is deep with snow from late December to late June most years.  If you snowshoe it November to mid December or mid June to early July, you will only need your snowshoes partway up the trail. 

Wedgemount Lake Snowshoe Map v15

Wedgemount Lake - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Rainbow Falls - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Rainbow Falls Snowshoe RatingRainbow Falls is a fantastic way go get yourself into some deep snow quickly from Whistler Village.  The short, winding, and ever-changing hiking trail to Rainbow Falls is the same as the much more popular trailhead for Rainbow Lake.  The trailhead is marked as the Rainbow Trail, and the trail quickly ascends into the forest winding left, right, up and down almost constantly.  21 Mile Creek, always on your right can be either seen or heard as you snowshoe through the forest to the somewhat hidden Rainbow Falls.  The Rainbow Falls/Rainbow Lake 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 is only one small, easy to miss sign to Rainbow Falls, but finding the falls is easy.  To find Rainbow Falls, begin at the trailhead parking for "Rainbow Trail" on Alta Lake Road.  Follow the trail as it winds along the river.  If you come to obvious forks in the trail, choose the right fork.  In 0.8 kilometres from the trailhead parking you will arrive at Rainbow Falls.  The trail to Rainbow Falls is fairly popular in the winter so the snow is usually well packed down so you often don't need snowshoes.  The route to the falls is never in a straight line.  Zig-zagging left and right, up and down, some parts are steep, but at just 0.8 kilometres, the shortness of the trail makes it suitable for kids.  The topography and sheer volume of snow make this a very fun trail to snowshoe for everyone.  Expect to take less than an hour, car to car, but much longer if you stop for a picnic or to play in the snow.

Rainbow Falls Snowshoe Map v6

Rainbow Falls - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Rainbow Park - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Rainbow Park Snowshoe RatingRainbow 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 Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain.  The beautiful 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 so well used in summer are frozen in place and, like everything else are buried in snow.  This snowshoe trail is excellent for the novelty of snowshoeing and great for kids.  Snowshoes are not really necessary due to short length of the trail and the relatively small size of the park.  If you have small kids, however, they will be in paradise.  By Christmas the park is often waist deep in snow, and if you are new to snowshoeing you will have a great time.  And if you do bring kids, you will have trouble getting them to leave.  Rainbow Park is a very easy, 1 kilometre trail from the parking area at the dead end of Lorimer Road 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 the lake. 

Rainbow Park Snowshoe Map v4

Rainbow Park - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Joffre Lakes - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Joffre Snowshoe RatingJoffre Lakes Provincial Park is a hiking paradise in the summer and a skiing and snowshoeing paradise in the winter.  About 1 hour and 20 minutes north of Whistler gets you to the Joffre Lakes trailhead.  Located up on the Duffy Lake Road north of Pemberton, Joffre Lakes is well known for its incredibly surreal, turquoise water.  In the winter of course, all three of the Joffre Lakes are frozen over but the trail is popular with skiers and snowshoers between the months of November and April.  The Joffre Lakes trail is fairly well marked and almost always tracked out in the winter it is still possible to lose the trail after dark or or during heavy snowfall.  Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is centred around the three Joffre Lakes.  All of them are beautiful on their own and each more beautiful than the last.  Frozen over in the winter, you won't be able to marvel at the amazing turquoise colours the lakes, caused by light reflecting off of the particles of glacial silt suspended in the water.  In the winter, with the lakes frozen and the trees weighed down with snow, Joffre Lakes takes on a serene beauty, with the low sun cutting through the trees and the forest brightly reflecting.  The third of the Joffre Lakes ends in a U-shaped valley where you will find the far side of the lake towering with glaciers relentlessly crushing down on the lake.  The sun fills the valley and the silence is wonderful. 

Joffre Lakes Snowshoe Map v4

Joffre Lakes - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Parkhurst Ghost Town - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Parkhurst Snowshoe RatingAt the north end of Green Lake hides one of the most unusual, interesting and scenic snowshoe trails in Whistler, Parkhurst Ghost Town.  From the 1920’s to 1950’s a small logging town with several dozen houses and a sawmill, the town quickly vacated in 1956 when the sawmill ceased operating.  Decades of snowy winter crushed the old sawmill and all but two of the old houses.  Various types of logging machinery, old vehicles, trucks, Caterpillar tractors and a Cletrac tractor lay in the forest unmoved for almost seventy years.  Most of the more interesting features of Parkhurst are hidden by the rapidly growing forest that has buried the once treeless area along Green Lake where the sawmill operated.  The heavy machinery is not only enveloped by the forest, but in the case of one of the huge tractor plows is being lifted off the forest floor.  Quite a remarkable sight considering that it must weigh close to 4000 kilograms (8818 pounds). Another similar 4 ton plow has managed to resist the lifting force of the forest, but instead has forced a tree to grow in a confined, triangular shape through it.  For over sixty years this now large tree has continued to grow to a substantial size while its trunk, within the plow is confined and spilling over the top of the plow.  The plow is effectively part of the tree like a giant, triangular collar.  The base of the tree has half the diameter within the plow, but fused together they are substantially stronger than the thick trunk that stretches up to the forest canopy.  What a marvellous sight that makes you stare in wonder for quite some time.  The Parkhurst Plow Tree appears to be an old birch tree is grizzled and cracking with age, much harder to recognize than the smooth, white bark of younger birch trees plentiful in the forests around Whistler. 

Parkhurst Whistler Snow Map v5

Parkhurst Ghost Town - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Brandywine Falls & Bungee Bridge - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Brandywine Snowshoe RatingBrandywine Falls Provincial Park is a beautiful park centred around the wonderful falls that plunge 70 metres down a vertical wall of glacier fractured rock.  The peculiar, angular cubes of rock that the cliffs surrounding the falls is the result of lava rapidly cooling against a glacier.  The rapid cooling causes solid rock to fracture in bizarrely angular ways known as columnar jointing.  From the viewing platform across from the falls you can make out four distinct layers of columnar jointing separated by glacial till.  These layers, formed by separate lava flows impacting the glacier that once filled this valley.  Another viewing area faces the south, looking down the valley and over Daisy Lake.  Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is located along the Sea to Sky Highway, 15 minutes south of Whistler and BC Parks has locked the parking lot during winter for years.  In 2021, despite the ever-increasing popularity of the park, has now put up tow away zone signs along the large turnaround area outside the gate.  With no decent parking alternatives nearby this has prevented thousands of people from enjoying this beautiful park and one of the best, and free attractions along the Sea to Sky Highway.  Some wintertime visitors to Brandywine Falls know to park at the Bungee Bridge down the very potholed Cal-Cheak forest service road.  As inconvenient as this sounds, it is actually a pretty nice alternative as the Bungee Bridge is a worthwhile sight on its own and the 3 kilometre trail to Brandywine Falls is nice and easy.  There are quite a few highlights along the Bungee Bridge to Brandywine Falls trail.  The Bungee Bridge is quite an impressive sight to see spanning Cheakamus River high above the tree tops.  Whistler Bungee is open year-round which is why the road is plowed in the winter and drivable.  When they have bookings you will see people bungee jumping off the bridge and there is a great viewing area across from the bridge at the edge of the cliffs.  Cheakamus River is a beautiful, crashing river cutting through a deep canyon far below and seeing it from such a height is fantastic.  The Sea to Sky Trail is another highlight of this hike as it is easy to follow, wide and well defined with signs at every junction.  After you cross the Bungee Bridge the Brandywine Falls viewpoint is just 2.7 kilomtres away.  The viewpoint hangs over the vertical cliff over the deep chasm that Brandywine Falls drops into.  There are nice information boards at the viewpoint explaining some of the interesting geology and history of the area.  Further along the trail leads you to another viewpoint and more informative boards depicting the geology of the area.  The viewpoint looks over Daisy Lake far below and on a sunny winter day the view is spectacular.

Bungee Bridge Brandywine Falls Map v2

Brandywine Falls - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Cheakamus River - Best Whistler Snowshoeing

Snowshoe Rating CheakamusCheakamus River is a beautiful, crashing, turquoise coloured river that flows from Cheakamus Lake, through Whistler Interpretive Forest at Cheakamus Crossing, then down past Brandywine Falls to Daisy Lake.  Also a popular kayaking route, the main attraction to Cheakamus River is the wonderful and quite extensive network of hiking and biking trails that run along either side of it.  The Riverside trail and the Farside trail run on either side of Cheakamus River and connect at both ends by bridges.  Connecting to the Riverside trail is the short trail to Logger's Lake, which in turn is surrounded by more snowshoe trails.  The Lake Loop trail, Crater Rim trail, the Ridge trail, Upper Ridge trail, and the Lower Ridge trail.  On the Farside trail along Cheakamus River you can connect to Cheakamus Road(gravel road) and hike 6 kilometres up to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead.  On the other side of the neighbourhood of Cheakamus Crossing, which Cheakamus River bends around keeping the Sea to Sky Highway and train tracks on its opposite side, you find still more snowshoe trails.  Trash trail hugs the river all the way to the beautiful bridge to Whistler Train Wreck.  Or, continue past the bridge to connect with the Sea to Sky trail.  For the most part, however, if you are talking about the Cheakamus River trails you are likely talking about the Farside and Riverside trails in Whistler's Interpretive Forest.  Eight kilometres south of Whistler Village and surrounding the neighbourhood of Cheakamus Crossing is Whistler Interpretive Forest.  This beautiful forest surrounds the Cheakamus River and has been cut and replanted in several areas in the past decades. Hiking and biking trails have sprung up over the years making the area a wonderful place to explore. Unfortunately, the Interpretive Forest is day-use only, no camping is permitted.  The main highlights of the Interpretive Forest are the Cheakamus River trails, and the extraordinary Logger's LakeLogger's Lake, just a short hike from the Cheakamus River suspension bridge, sits within a 10000 year old, extinct volcano and is a hiking destination on its own.

Cheakamus River Snowshoeing Map v6

Cheakamus River - Best Snowshoeing in Whistler

Whistler and Garibaldi Park Hiking Gear Rental

Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

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