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Where to Go Snowshoeing in Whistler

Where to Go Snowshoeing in Whistler

Whistler might be best known for skiing, but it has great snowshoeing too. (And it’s waaaay less expensive than skiing!) In this guide to snowshoeing in Whistler I’ll give you info and directions for 10 different trails ranging from super-flat beginner trails to all-day epics treks in the backcountry. The bonus is that 8 of these Whistler snowshoe trails are totally free and the other two are pretty cheap. I’ll also make sure you have all the safety info you need to sure you have a great trip. 

This guide covers 10 snowshoe trails near Whistler. That’s every trail in the Whistler area that is safe to snowshoe. (I’ve also got a guide to the best hikes in Whistler if you’re visiting during the summer.) And if you’re looking for even more places to go snowshoeing near Whistler or other things to do in Whistler in winter, don’t worry – I got you! Check out these other guides:

Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support. -Taryn

But First… Be Prepared

  • Make a trip plan: While these trails may be steps from busy ski areas, they access serious wilderness. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Use the great trip planning tools from Adventure Smart.
  • Check the weather, trail conditions, and avalanche forecast: If the weather and trail conditions don’t look good, don’t go. Use my list of the best weather apps for hiking. Check the avalanche forecast for the Sea to Sky zone. Unless you have taken an avalanche safety course, you probably shouldn’t go out unless the forecast is rated “Low” or “Moderate”. 
  • Wear winter clothing and pack the essentials: Prepare for emergencies by packing the 10 essentials. Read my recommendations for what to wear snowshoeing and tips for winter hiking and snowshoeing.
  • Use safe snowshoeing techniques: Snowshoes keep you from sinking into deep snow, but they aren’t great for walking sideways or downhill – it’s easy to slip and injure yourself. Read up on snowshoeing safety and check out my guide to choosing snowshoes.) They also have crampons and other traction aids underfoot to help grip icy snow.
  • Take an avalanche safety course: If you plan to stray from flat terrain, you need avalanche safety training. great FREE online beginner tutorial on Avalanche.ca. You should also take a 2.5 day AST1 course with avalanche Canada.

READ NEXT: Snowshoeing Safety: 14 Ways to Get into Trouble and How to Prevent Them

Where to Rent Snowshoes in Whistler

If you want to buy snowshoes, check out my snowshoe buying guide for you. I like to wear MSR snowshoes which are better for steep and icy trails like the ones you’ll find in Whistler.

If you want to try snowshoeing before you buy, lots of places in Vancouver and Whistler rent snowshoes. Sunny weekends and holidays can be really busy for rentals, so try to reserve a pair ahead of time if possible.

Snowshoeing in Whistler Quick Reference Guide

TrailRatingTimeCost
Brandywine FallsSuper Easy-Moderate30 min- 2 hoursFREE
Whistler Olympic Park/Ski CallaghanSuper Easy-Moderate30 min-All Day$16.50
Whistler Train WreckEasy1-1.5 hoursFREE
Cheakamus River TrailEasy-Moderate2-3 hoursFREE
Cheakamus Lake
Moderate2-8 hoursFREE
Rainbow FallsModerate45 min-1 hourFREE
Lost LakeSuper Easy-Easy1-4 hours$11.50
Parkhurst Ghost TownModerate3-5 hoursFREE
Nairn FallsEasy1.5 hoursFREE
Joffre LakesChallenging5-6 hoursFREE

Join: Snowshoeing in Vancouver Facebook Group

Brandywine Falls Snowshoe

Brandywine Falls near Whistler in winter. Find out how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Whistler, BC, Canada.
Icy Brandywine Falls. Photo Credit: “Brandywine Falls” by That Guy Who’s Going Places on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Distance: 1km round trip to the falls, 6km round trip to the Bungee Bridge

Time Needed: 30 min round trip to Brandywine Falls, 2 hours round trip to the bungee bridge

Elevation Gain: 50-60m

Rating: Super easy to Brandywine Falls. Easy/Moderate to the Bungee Bridge

The Trail: The flat and easy trail to the Brandywine Falls viewing platform is a great option for snowshoeing near Whistler. If you want to extend your trip, you can snowshoe a portion of the Sea to Sky trail over to the Whistler Bungee Bridge. You can look down into the depths of the Cheakamus River canyon and maybe even watch people bungee jump.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: The trail crosses train tracks: use caution. There is no maintained trail down to the base of Brandywine Falls: there is an illegal route that uses a scary old rope to descend a cliff but it travels over slippery rocks and is very icy and dangerous in the winter.

Trail Map/Guide: You can find directions and a map on the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park webiste.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Permitted on leash.

Getting There: The park gate is locked in the winter and unfortunately you are not allowed to park on the side of Highway 99. (Your car will get towed.) Unless you get dropped off and picked up, unfortunately the only way to do this snowshoe trip currently is to park at Whistler Bungee on the Cal-Cheak Forest Service Road and walk in from that direction. Whistler Bungee does plow the road but it is rough.

Snowshoeing at Whistler Olympic Park/Ski Callaghan

Alexander Falls in the Callaghan Valley near Whistler. Find out how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Whistler, BC, Canada.
Snowshoeing to frozen Alexander Falls at Ski Callaghan. Photo Credit: “Alexander Falls” by Craig Sheppard on Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Distance: Up to 35km of trails with various loops possible

Time Needed: 30 min to all day

Elevation Gain: Up to 200m

Rating: Super easy/moderate

The Trails: There are two separate cross country ski areas in the Callaghan Valley (Whistler Olympic Park and Ski Callaghan), but they have one ticket price for all trails. It’s mostly a cross country ski area, but there are also over 35km of snowshoe trails ranging from super flat to more moderate. The highlight of the area is 43m high Alexander falls, which looks spectacular when frozen. You can snowshoe right to the base.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: Most trails in the park are on flat or rolling terrain. However, some trails travel across steeper slopes that can be prone to avalanche. The park may close these trails if conditions are not safe. There are several backcountry access points in the park. Once you pass into the backcountry, there are no trail markings and you are in serious avalanche terrain. Some trails are shared with cross country skiers. Stay on the side of the trail and don’t walk in the set ski track.

Trail Map/Guide: Plan your route with this map.

Permits/Fees: Trail passes are $16.50 a day.

Dogs: It costs $6.50 for a dog day pass. Dogs are allowed on leash on some trails and prohibited on others. There are also a few off-leash trails and a designated dog parking lot. (See this map for details on dog-friendly trails and parking).

Getting There: There are quite a few different parking areas. The main ones are near the Whistler Olympic Park day lodge and the Callaghan Country base. Choose your parking area according to which trails you plan to snowshoe.

In previous years there was shuttle service to the park from Whistler village, but they have not announced if it will be running in the 2021/22 season.

Snowshoeing to Whistler Train Wreck

Whistler Trainwreck hike in the winter. Find out how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Whistler, BC, Canada.
The train wreck trail covered in snow. Photo Credit: “Whistler Train Wreck” by Craig Sheppard on Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Distance: 2km round trip

Time Needed: 1-1.5 hours

Elevation Gain: 30m

Rating: Easy

The Trail: This short trail is one of the best hikes in Whistler, so in the winter it’s a great place to go snowshoeing. The trail descends gradually to a brand new suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River. On the other side, there are 7 graffiti-covered box cars in the forest along with some old mountain bike jumps. The main 5 are right where you came up the hill. The other two are a little further along the trail to the left.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: No avalanche danger. Be sure to follow the directions in the trail guide linked below. There are still some old trail guides online that use an old (an illegal!) way to access the train wreck. The old way involves trespassing on some train tracks.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s good directions and a map on Vancouver Trails.

Permits/Fees: None required.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Getting There: There is free parking in a small lot at the trailhead in the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood of Whistler. You can get to within a 10 minute walk of the trail on public transit. From Whistler Village take bus 20 to Legacy Way, then walk 700m down Jane Lakes Road to the trailhead.

Snowshoeing the Cheakamus River Trails

A woman snowshoes across a suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River in Whistler
Snowshoeing across the Cheakamus River suspension bridge

Distance: 6.5 km loop

Time Needed: 2-3 hours

Elevation Gain: 250 m

Rating: Easy/Moderate

The Trail: The Whistler Interpretive Forest in Whistler’s Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood is a great place to go snowshoeing in Whistler. You can make a loop by using the Riverside Trail on one side of the Cheakamus River and the Farside Trail on the other. Connect the two with a walk over a picturesque suspension bridge. The route has some short rolling hills, but its never very steep.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: None.

Trail Map/Guide: This map shows all the trails. Use my Cheakamus River Snowshoe Trail guide.

Permits/Fees: None

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Getting There: Park in Whistler Interpretive Forest Parking lot on Cheakamus Lake Road just after you turn off the highway.

You can get to the trail on public transit. From Whistler Village take bus 20 to the first stop in Cheakamus Crossing.

READ NEXT: Cheakamus River Snowshoe Trail in Whistler

Cheakamus Lake Snowshoeing

Distance: Up to 29km round trip

Time Needed: 2-8 hours

Elevation Gain: Up to 200m

Rating: Moderate

The Trail: Cheakamus Lake is a popular short hike in the summer time. In winter it’s a much longer journey since the normal access road is closed. First you have to snowshoe 7.5 km along the closed road to the summer parking lot. From there it’s another 3km to Cheakamus Lake following the summer trail. Once you get to the lake you can continue along the shore for a further 4km. There are also a few shorter loop trails branching off the road if you don’t want to go all the way to Cheakamus Lake, such as the Crater View Trail.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: The road portion of the trip has no hazards. Once you leave the summer parking lot for the Cheakamus Lake and start on the trail you will be crossing a large rock slide and a steep slope. This slope is an avalanche hazard. Use caution and cross one at a time. Be prepared to turn back if conditions aren’t right.

Trail Map/Guide: This map shows all the trails.

Permits/Fees: None

Dogs: Allowed on leash on the road portion and the Whistler Interpretive Trails. Dogs are not permitted in Garibaldi Park so you can’t bring your dog on the Cheakamus Lake Trail.

Getting There: Parking: Park in Whistler Interpretive Forest Parking lot on Cheakamus Lake Road just after you turn off the highway. You can walk down the road to the trailhead.

You can get to within a 5 minute walk of the trail on public transit. From Whistler Village take bus 20 to the first stop in Cheakamus Crossing, then walk 350m down Cheakamus Lake Road to the trailhead.

Join: Snowshoeing in Vancouver Facebook Group

Snowshoeing to Rainbow Falls

Distance: 2km return

Time Needed: 45min-1 hour

Elevation Gain: 100m

Rating: Moderate

The Trail: This short trail takes you to the base of pretty little Rainbow Falls near Alta Lake in Whistler. It looks particularly gorgeous when frozen. While the trail is short, it does gain 100m in less than a kilometer so it’s not super easy.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: No avalanche hazard. The trail to Rainbow Falls branches off right from the main trail to Rainbow Lake (which isn’t accessible in the winter due to a removed bridge). The turn off to the falls can be hard to spot (there is a small sign), but just keep right at all junctions and you should find it.

Trail Map/Guide: There are directions and a map on Hike in Whistler

Permits/Fees: None required.

Dogs: Not permitted. This trail is in Whistler’s watershed so dogs are not allowed.

Getting There: There is a parking lot at the trailhead. You can also take a taxi from Whistler Village.

Snowshoeing at Lost Lake Park

A man and a woman snowshoeing at Lost Lake in Whistler, BC
Snowshoeing at Lost Lake. Photo credit: Whistler.ca

Distance: 3-15km

Time Needed: 1-4 hours

Elevation Gain: 50m

Rating: Super Easy/Easy

The Trail: Lost Lake Park is mostly known for its cross country ski trails, but it also has a 15km network of snowshoe trails to explore. These rolling trails wind through the forest around Lost Lake, intersecting the ski trails occasionally. If you climb up some of the hillier trails, you’ll discover views of Lost Lake or Green Lake. If you want a break, there’s a day lodge with a cafe and a warming hut.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards:  No avalanche danger. The trails sometimes intersect cross country ski trails. Watch for on-coming skiers. Stay on the side of the trail and carefully step over the set ski track.

Trail Map/Guide: Whistler Municipality provides a great trail map.

Permits/Fees: Day passes are $11.50.

Dogs: Not permitted.

Getting There: The closest parking is in Lot 5 in Whistler Village. On public transit, take bus 5 to the corner of Blackcomb Way and Lorimer Road, then walk 5 minutes down Lorimer to the entrance to Lost Lake Park.

Snowshoeing to Parkhurst Ghost Town

An abandoned building at the Parkhurst Ghost Town in Whistler, BC
An abandoned building at Parkhurst Ghost Town

Distance: 6km loop

Time Needed: 3-5 hours

Elevation Gain: 100m

Rating: Moderate

The Trail: If you love abandoned buildings and are comfortable navigating unmarked trails, the free snowshoe trip to the former town of Parkhurst was made for you. The loop hike to the ghost town follows a network of mountain bike trails that can be a challenge to find in the winter. Parkhurst Ghost Town is a former logging town settlement on the shores of Green Lake that was abandoned in the 1960s, before Whistler was a ski area. There are lots of collapsed buildings and vehicles to discover in the area. The highlight is the one surviving building, covered in graffit.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: No avalanche danger. Some of the trails and junctions are not well marked so it can be easy to get lost. The markers are not easy to see in the winter. I recommend using a GPS app that shows trails like Gaia, Alltrails or Trailforks. Bring a map and compass just in case.

(Psst! Want to save 20% on a Gaia GPS premium annual membership, which gets you the same maps I used to get to Parkhurst Ghost Town? Use this link.)

Trail Map/Guide: Read my complete guide to the Parkhurst Ghost Town hike. The directions were written for summer travel and the trail network will be much more challenging to find in the winter.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Allowed.

Driving Directions: . Click here for Google Maps directions.

Getting There: Drive 10 minutes north of the village on highway 99 to the marked turn off for the Wedgemount Lake Trail. Turn right off the highway, then cross train tracks and a bridge. Park on the side of the road right after the bridge. There will usually be too much snow to drive all the way to the trailhead described in my trail guide. Walking the road will add 1km-each way to your hike.

Snowshoeing to Nairn Falls

Distance: 3km return

Time Needed: 1.5 hours

Elevation Gain: None

Rating: Easy

The Trail: This flat trail runs above the bank of the Green River before ending at the spectacular viewpoint for Nairn Falls. The falls are especially dramatic when they partially freeze up in the winter.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: No avalanche danger. Use caution in slippery conditions as the trail is on a wide ledge above the river and the drop down to the river is pretty steep.

Trail Map/Guide: Outdoor Vancouver has a good trail guide.  There’s also info on the Nairn Falls Provincial Park website.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Getting There: Drive 30 minutes north of Whistler Village to Nairn Falls Provincial Park. Watch for the BC Parks signs so you don’t miss the turn. The campground portion of the park is gated in winter, but you can drive into the day use parking lot.

Snowshoeing to Joffre Lakes

Joffre Lakes near Pemberton in winter. Find out how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Whistler, BC, Canada.
Frozen Upper Joffre Lake. Photo Credit: “Joffre Lakes Provincial Park” by Pavel Matejicek on Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Distance: 10km return to the 3rd lake

Time Needed: 5-6 hours

Elevation Gain: 400m to the 3rd lake

Rating: Challenging. Best for experienced snowshoers only

The Trail: This popular trail winds past two alpine lakes before arriving at a third alpine lake with a great view of the surrounding glaciers. In the summer the turquoise blue lakes are the draw, but in the winter the whole area is blanketed in white. The first lake is an easy 5 minute walk from the car (great for beginners), but the other lakes will take substantially longer to reach and are best left for experienced snowshoers. You have to pay if you want to camp overnight, but it’s totally free to snowshoe there on a day trip.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: This is serious backcountry terrain. You are far from help and there is no cell service. The trail crosses below some avalanche terrain, particularly in between the 2nd and 3rd lakes and at the far end of the 3rd lake. You should have avalanche gear and training if you plan to tackle this trail.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s more info on the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park website.

Permits/Fees: None in winter.

Dogs: Not allowed. (Note dogs used to be permitted on leash, but that changed in 2018 and they are no longer allowed.)

Getting There: Drive an hour north of Whistler, through Pemberton and Mount Currie to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Although the entire drive is on the paved road of highway 99, this is a VERY steep mountain road with lots of switchbacks and it can be slippery and snowy in the winter. Bring tire chains just in case.

In the summer there is a large parking lot, but only a fraction of it is plowed in the winter. And sometimes it’s not plowed at all. Try to park where you won’t block the plow and bring a snow shovel in case you need to dig yourself a parking spot. Get there early to make sure you get a spot.

Join: Snowshoeing in Vancouver Facebook Group

Which of these Whistler snowshoe trails is your favourite? Have questions about snowshoeing in Whistler? Let me know in the comments.

READ NEXT:

More Snowshoeing Guides:

Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking Advice

More Whistler Ideas:

Taryn Eyton

John

Thursday 7th of March 2019

Great guide, thanks! I was in Whistler for a few days and I hit the three waterfalls on your list. Rainbow Falls was excellent. I rented snowshoes (Tubbs) from Affinity Rentals, next to the Pinnacle Hotel in Whistler Village.

Taryn Eyton

Thursday 7th of March 2019

That's great to hear John! I bet the waterfalls were frozen in these cold temperatures we've been having. It's always so cool to see them all icy!

Paul

Saturday 16th of February 2019

Wonderful and useful site. You may like to update that dogs are no longer allowed at all at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.

Taryn Eyton

Thursday 21st of February 2019

Ah good catch Paul. Thanks! I've updated the post.

Danielle

Sunday 21st of January 2018

Oh man! Now I want to make a winter trip to Whistler! I had always counted it out since I don’t ski... but I do snowshoe! Seeing Alexander Falls frozen would be epic!

Megan

Saturday 20th of January 2018

Awesome! I'm headed to Whistler for a week in March. I was planning to ski But maybe I will have to give snowshoeing a go, some of these trails look really special.

Josy A

Friday 19th of January 2018

This is soooo helpful!

I moved to Vancouver this year (so I think I have seen a couple of your other super-helpful hiking posts) but now I discovered that I love snowshoeing, I will follow a few more of these. Thank you so much for sharing your tips and adventures!!

I started following you anyway. :)

Taryn Eyton

Friday 19th of January 2018

Thanks Josy! Snowshoeing is pretty easy to do: if you can walk you can snowshoe :) If you live in Vancouver you'll also enjoy my snowshoeing guides to Vancouver and Squamish. I also have another one for the Fraser Valley coming out soon!