I spent four short days in British Columbia this October, based out of Vancouver. The city and surrounding areas are amazing, devastatingly beautiful, but my favorite and most memorable day of all had to be the trip to Whistler, an hour and a half to the north on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. The views alone from the highway and pull off points are worth making the drive, utterly spectacular.
The most stunning pull-off spot in my opinion was Porteau Cove (40 minutes north) with a large parking lot, pier to walk out on, environmental signs to read, and plenty of birds to watch.
I had two separate plans depending on the weather, which was iffy our entire trip. Instead of mountain climbing while it was really cold at the base (couldn’t imagine how cold it would be at the summit), we went for waterfalls and some other miscellaneous spots. Our first of the day was Shannon Falls, not quite in Whistler yet (50 minutes north).
You can see the falls from the car, but it was nice to take the short paved path to stretch our legs and get a closer look. Next on the list was Brandywine Falls, another park right off the highway and finally – the first stop in Whistler proper. For this trail you have to take a short walk through the woods and over the train tracks, less than a mile roundtrip to the falls.
So different than the last, Brandywine falls straight down in a perfectly neat manner.A stone throw away is an overlook to Daisy Lake and the Cheakamus Valley.
Fifteen minutes away and off the main highway is Alexander Falls, much less populated than the rest. We actually had it to ourselves. Simply a parking lot with a bathroom and an overlook, but check out that view.
We took a break in the string of waterfalls to hop on the trail to the Whistler Train Wreck [Jane Lakes Road, Whistler BC]. Choo choo. There were a lot of different trail descriptions online, so after sorting through them I noticed a relatively new trail was created to get to the wreck with shorter mileage, just perfect for our jam-packed day. Faithfully the parking lot was on the road, we crossed the street and entered the woods. The trail to the wreck is well marked, relatively short and easy less than a mile, and flat up until you are nearly upon the suspension bridge. Then there is a short steep descent. They love suspensions bridges in BC, this one is brand new and gorgeous.
After crossing the bridge you will begin to notice the boxcars strewn about between the tall trees, in a magical ghostly setting. A bit of historical background: The crash occurred in 1956. There was an error on the train tonnage, it was behind schedule, and thus speeding through an area under repair. The speed limit was 15MPH, and the train was going 35MPH and the fourth engine flipped up a rail causing the wreck. The boxcars were dragged away from the site and up the line, placed in the woods where they lie today. This is the answer to the mystery of why all of the trees in the forest are eerily in place. There are seven cars in all, five of them are easily found close to the bridge. Two you need to head downstream to find. They have been graffiti’d and act almost as a gallery.
After thorough exploration we went back the way we came, and while heading to our next destination couldn’t help but make an unplanned stop at Green Lake right on the side of the road. The lake is luminous and its beauty only increased by the mountainous backdrop!
Doing well on time we were able to visit Nairn Falls, ultimately two hours north of Vancouver, but one of the most cherished hikes of the trip. It isn’t too long of a hike to get to the falls, but the whole way I had to watch out so I wouldn’t trip over my jaw because the water was the most incredible shade of turquoise.
It only intensified as we made it to the end of the line. These pictures have not been altered in any way shape or form, this is truly what the water looks like and it is positively enchanting.
Be sure to make your way down to the pebbly beach about half way to the falls and don’t forget to tear your eyes away from that mesmerizing water to look up at the magnificent glacier ridden mountains.
The whole reason the water is this color is because of them grinding down sediment which enters the water known as glacial milk. Yummy. We were chilly. We were shocked and awed by the sights. We had a long drive back to Vancouver. Out of snacky provisions we headed to a nearby bakery, Purebread [1-1040 Millar Creek Road Whistler, BC V0N] to refuel for the return trip. It was a quaint spot with just what we needed, some hot caffeinated tea and tasty treats – the cherry on top to an outstanding day!