Introducing Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
A hike a day truly keeps the doctor away. I am always so relieved when winter finally removes its grip from our lives and lets the spring warmth come through. I like to start hiking right away, and living in a place like British Columbia really allows you to hike all year round (especially if you’re okay with your feet getting a little bit wet!)
I recently went to the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and had the most wonderful time. I’m used to doing super slogs of uphill hiking with loose rock and almost no switchbacks, so hiking through this provincial park was quite literally, a walk in the park.
This article is going to go through all that you could possibly need to know about visiting Brandywine Falls Provincial Park. There are so many trails, so much nature, and so many beautiful things to see. So grab that bag of trail mix and get those boots on!
How do I Get There?
The Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is located north of Squamish and south of Whistler, so pretty much directly in between the two towns on Highway 99. For those of you who don’t live in the area, that’s the only road linking the two places, so it’s pretty easy to find.
If leaving from Squamish, take Highway 99 north towards Whistler for 47km, and the turn off will be on the right hand side.
Things to Love about Brandywine
Brandywine falls is an incredible place to visit. Whether you’re travelling with your family, by yourself, your lover, your enemy (?), your little ones, your older ones, there’s a trail for everybody. That was very apparent when I visited. I saw someone walking their ferret there!
Brandywine features an incredible 70 metre tall waterfall, which you can see from a main lookout. Though no one is entirely sure where the name came from, legend says that it came from two surveyors (Jack Nelson & Bob Mollison) who were betting how tall the waterfall was. It was measured with a long chain, Nelson was closer to the actual height, and was therefore awarded a bottle of brandy and the right to name the waterfall!
Surrounding the falls are incredibly basalt columns, dried lava flows, coniferous forests, and scattered alpine ponds. In the distance you’ll see an incredible view of the aqua blue Daisy Lake and the surrounding mountains, including the great Black Tusk.
There are tons of areas for activities in the park. There’s room for picnics, hiking, biking, birding, kissing (gasp!) and just walking around and being in love with nature. I even found a birch tree absolutely coated with turkey tail mushrooms! ISN’T THAT INCREDIBLE?!
Know Before you Go…
There are a couple of important things to note before you plan your day trip to the Brandywine Falls National Park. In order to have the most gorgeous amazing perfect day ever, keep these things in mind:
- Bring your own water: there is no running water or potable water at the park, so make sure to bring more than you need, especially if you have a pooch with you!
- No fires: even if there is currently no fire ban in the province (which is very common during the summer months in British Columbia), there is no area or fire pit within the park where you are permitted to make your own fire.
- No access to lower falls: you can only view the falls from the viewpoints. The lower falls area is extremely unsafe due to unstable slopes and rock falls.
- Don’t leave the trails: not only is it best to stay on trail for your own safety, but it is also important to preserve the surrounding wildlife. We already had to remove some natural habitat in order to make way for all of the hiking trails, so conserve what remains please!
- Free access: access to the park is free year round! Hooray!
- Pee wisely: there are pit toilets by the parking lot at the entrance of the park, but there are none within the park itself.
- Get there early: though I did go to the park on labour day weekend, it was crazy busy. We arrived earlier in the day, around 10am, and when we were leaving there was a lineup of cars waiting for parked cars to leave.
Things to do in the Park
Since 2010, the Brandywine Falls National Park has nearly tripled in size! All of this space leaves oodles of room for all sorts of different activities. Just make sure to remember to be respectful and stick to the trails!
The Brandywine National Park is a super duper popular place for mountain bikers. It’s especially a great option for families who have young ones or folks who are beginners, because the trails are super easy, wide, with incredible view all around.
One thing to note is that absolutely no ebikes are allowed to be ridden within the park. There are 3 different trails that you can choose from, which we’ll go over in the following section.
This is an absolutely perfect place to go hiking. The hiking trails are the same as the biking trails, and they’re very easy for the whole family to enjoy. There are multiple viewing areas to see the falls, Daisy lake, or you can even walk a little while longer to watch some people jumping off of the bungee bridge!
There are all sorts of different spacial views like basalt columns, lava flow remains, and incredible stands of coniferous trees, but there are also tons of animal species large and small. Make sure to bring your binoculars!
This environment is also the natural habitat of the red legged frog which is considered as on the blue list of species at risk in the province. So if you see one of these, make sure to get a snapshot from a distance and then move on!
Trails in Brandywine Falls National Park
There are 4 main trails that you can tread within the park. They vary in length and incline, but they are all super easy hikes for the whole family to enjoy.
Brandywine Falls Trail
The brandywine falls trail is the shortest and easiest hiking trail within the park. It is a quick little 10-20 minute jaunt that you can basically do in heels if that suits your fancy. The trail brings you across a set of train tracks and through a coniferous forest to a viewing platform where you can see the great view of the brandywine falls.
You can continue another five minutes along the same path to another viewing platform where you can see an incredible view of Daisy Lake and the Black Tusk Mountain. This path ends, so you have to turn right around to get back to the parking lot.
Swim Lake Trail
The swim lake hiking trail is another short hike that branches off from the main road. This one is short but a little bit more tough with a steep incline. This path leads to a small, swimmable lake. You are welcome to swim in it, but the bottom is quite gunky and goopy if you dare!!
Sea to Sky Trail
The Sea to Sky trail can be either hiked or biked. This is a 0.9 mile (1.5km) trail that is a small portion of the planned 111 miles (180km) that you can reach from Squamish to Whistler. This trail heads northeast from the falls towards the Whistler Bungee Bridge that is right over the Cheakamus river.
The Sea to Sky is a wide packed gravel trail that is wonderfully wide with gentle grades of incline and decline. It’s a pleasure to bike, an easy to hike, and you can turn around at any point to head back to the parking lot.
Lava Lake Trail
The lava lake trail can be hiked or biked and it is a 1.6 mile (2.7km) trail that is rather short but rather steep as well. It wanders throughout high alpine pine forests (which is rather unusual for coastal environments like this) and leads you through some lovely little alpine lakes. Tons of amazing opportunities for photos!
Glad ya’ Came!
And there you have it! Hopefully you feel as prepared as can be for your visit to Brandywine Falls National Park. There is tons to do and tons to see, so all that’s left is to say:
Leave No Trace! Whatever you pack in to the park, make sure that you pack it out! Littering just isn’t cool on any part of the planet, but especially in remote places like these. It’s super harmful to the surrounding plant and animal life, so always try to leave it better than you found it!
Are you planning on camping in Squamish or Whistler? We’ve got the Ultimate List for Camping ready for you here!
Headed out on a road trip to the west coast? Check out this article listing out everything that you could need for a road trip.
Are you backpacking through BC? Don’t leave before checking out this incredible Ultimate List for Backpacking.
How much does it cost to visit brandywine park?
As if the park weren’t amazing enough, it is entirely free of charge to visit Brandywine Falls provincial park! It’s free to park in the parking lot and to enter the park on foot as well. Isn’t that just amazing?
Can you bungee jump at brandywine falls park?
There is a trail within brandywine falls park that leads to the Cheakamus bridge which is over top of the Cheakamus river. The Whistler Bungee Jumping organization is set up over this bridge, but the brandywine park is not apart of the activity. Just on the other side of the bridge is the parking lot where customers for bungee jumping can park.
What types of animals can be see in Brandywine falls provincial park?
The areas around Squamish and Whistler are wild. That’s why people travel from all over the world come to see them. There are comfortable places to stay, and wild things to see. The following animals are known to exist around these areas, but it is not guaranteed that you’re going to see one.
Black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, cougars, coyotes, wolves, elk, bobcats, squirrels, chipmunks, eagles, small bird species, rabbits, frogs, lizards, etc etc. If you do happen to see one of these animals, the best rule of thumb is to just remain calm and leave them be.
What is the best time of year to visit the park?
The great thing about British Columbia is that you can go outdoors at any time of year. The best times to go on hikes in my opinion are in the fall and summer. Fall is my favorite because it’s still dry and just warm enough for it to not be unpleasant. Summer is beautiful but it can sometimes be super hot (though it’s bearable under the shade of the trees).
Winter and spring on the west coast tend to be very very wet. The west coast pretty much rains and is cloudy for 6 months of the year. Though it’s totally possible to hike during these months because it’s warm enough (and since the trails are gravel, they aren’t too slippery) you can definitely plan on getting wet!
Make sure to wear a moisture wicking layer and a rain layer to ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible. A pair of waterproof hiking boots and merino wool socks aren’t too bad of an idea either.
Is there a place that I can fill my water bottle at the park?
There is no potable water and no running water and Brandywine falls provincial park, so make sure that you fill up all of your water bottles before leaving for the park. Though the trails aren’t so long that hiking without water would be dangerous, you never know what’s going to happen out there! It’s always a better idea to be prepared.
Are the hikes hard at Brandywine provincial park?
Brandywine provincial park is a great place to visit for the whole family because all of the trails are super easy. They’re wide, well maintained, have a super low incline, and tons of switchbacks when things get a little bit more steep. The trails make for wonderfully pleasant hiking and chill mountain biking as well.
What should I bring to brandywine provincial park?
There are certain things that you should always remember to bring before heading out on a hike. Though the hikes at this park are super easy, maintained, and trafficked, it’s always better to be over prepared than underprepared.
You should bring: water, snacks, a rain layer, proper hiking boots, a hat, a headlamp or flashlight, sunscreen, a multitool, and extra layers depending on what time of year you’re planning on heading out!