Just south of Whistler lies the relatively quiet Callaghan Valley. Site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the area is now a mecca for winter activities and acts as a basecamp for backcountry skiers and adventurers. It is also a great spot for snowshoers of all abilities with a dedicated snowshoe trail system from green to black diamond.
In the last article, we explored the Cheakamus River area. In this article, part two of our series on the best snowshoe trails in Whistler, we’ll head to the Callaghan Valley and beautiful Alexander Falls.
Ski Callaghan and the Whistler Olympic Park are responsible for most of the commercial winter activities in the Callaghan Valley, and have over 35 kms of snowshoe trails which weave through the forested and alpine landscapes. Snowshoeing in the Callaghan gives you a feeling of being totally immersed in nature. The quiet trails feel like a world away from the bustle of Whistler just up the road. Over 50% of the snowshoe trails here are dog-friendly which makes a change from the Whistler Blackcomb resort and Garibaldi park.
Photo Courtesy of Ski Callaghan
The lower valley snowshoe trails wind around the structures built for the Winter Olympics. The Ski Jump Interpretive and Olympic Explorer trails give spectacular views of the 140m ski jump where two Olympic records were set in 2010, and the Stadium Explorer and Biathlon Explorer trails take you through the Olympic Biathlon ski runs and Nordic venues. Other trails take you up to viewpoints to look out onto the whole Olympic park or the towering Black Tusk.
One of the highlights of snowshoeing in the Callaghan is visiting Alexander Falls. This spectacular 40ft frozen waterfall is accessible via the Alexander Falls Explorer trail – a beautiful 3.5km singletrack through the forest. Most kids will be able to handle this blue trail, although some steep sections might be challenging for very young children.
This dog-friendly trail ends in a spectacular frozen waterfall. Photo courtesy of Hollie Holden.
The trails in the Callaghan Valley are mostly groomed or maintained to a high standard. You can also use the park facilities which include three day lodges and rental services. Access to these facilities and the snowshoe trails costs $15.50 for adults and $8.25 for juniors (under 18), or $5 for all ages on Wednesday nights!
To get to the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley from Whistler, drive 14km south and look for signs to Whistler Olympic Park. To get there from Vancouver, the turn off is 44km north of Downtown Squamish. Drive 10 km up the road once you turn off the highway and you will arrive at the park.
Stay tuned for our final article in the series!
Katharine Mills is a trail and ultra runner living in North Vancouver. Originally from the UK, she lived in Whistler for two years before making the move to the city. Compared to the UK, she thinks Canada has an incredible lifestyle, but terrible tea. Her favourite things are exploring the wilds of the BC backcountry, racing mountain bikers down the trails of North Vancouver, and Honey’s Doughnuts from Deep Cove.