Brandywine Meadows {Whistler}

Brandywine Meadows {Whistler}

Brandywine Meadows

  • Distance – 7km+ from the trailhead (depends on how far you go exploring the meadow once you get there and expect additional kms depending on where you park your car)
  • Elevation – 680 meters from the trailhead (850+ meters from where you park your car if you don’t have an adventure mobile)
  • Type of Hike – Out and Back
  • Difficulty – Difficult
  • Trailhead – Brandywine Meadows Lower Trailhead
  • Logistics – Driving on a gravel road that is less than stellar. (Most likely, you will eventually abandon your car and hike the rest of the road to get to the trailhead.)

 

Stunning. Glorious. Beautiful.

 

Brandywine Meadows is one of those places that makes you forget all the hard work that it took to get to the meadows.

 

Branywine Meadows Hike
This is a lovely place to spend a day! Hopefully, you get a bit better weather than we had!

 

This is a beautiful half-day hike in Whistler, British Columbia that is strenuous and requires solid shoes and some experience clambering up steep pitches. Make sure to wear your best hiking or trail shoes – you won’t be sorry!

Our intel on how to get to the trailhead was lacking, to say the least. We had a lot of information on different ways to get to the trailhead and unfortunately, all of it was convoluted and ultimately wrong. Following these terrible directions led us to have two false starts and to be rather frustrated by the time we found the trailhead.

Luckily for us, we were starting late in the afternoon and we met some people who had been lost longer much longer than we had been and they pointed us away from our first two false starts. Needless to say, we were rather glad when we found a couple who were finishing the trail.

Hopefully, these directions will help you be much less frustrated than we were and have a wonderful day!

 

Getting to the trailhead.

 

A 4WD vehicle will make getting to the trailhead easier, but you still might decide to abandon your vehicle at some point and hike in. I have a little Mazda3 and we comfortably made it to just 1.7 km shy of the trailhead with some extremely slow driving. The road in starts off paved, then it moves to paved-but-falling-apart, then it becomes gravel, and then it deteriorates, finally ending in a massive 1.0 km long hill up a steep, gravel road that is very rough.

From Highway 99, find Callaghan Road off Highway 99 and turn west. This turn-off is in between Whistler and Squamish and is north of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.

Directions to find Calllaghan Road:

Turn west on Callaghan Road and drive 900 meters until you reach Brandywine FSR. Turn left (south) onto Brandywine FSR.

Stay on Brandywine FSR and do not turn off. You will pass a waste transfer station and buildings for an ATV tours company. Just keep driving straight for 4 km until you reach a fork. At the fork, go left. At 6 km from turning off Callaghan Road, you will find the trailhead.

As mentioned, at about 4 km, you will encounter a fork in the road and see a sign that points to upper and lower Brandywine trailheads. At this point, there is space to park at a wide spot in the road or if you drive 100 meters up towards the upper trailhead, there is a very large parking lot that you can park in. Or you can keep driving towards the lower trailhead, but the road does become quite a bit worse after about another 500 meters.

 

Sign for Brandywine Meadows Hike
This sign was at the fork in the road at 4 km. Go left at the fork for as long makes sense for your car. There aren’t that many wide spots in the road after this point, so if you’re feeling like your car may not make it up a massive hill, park here.

 

If the sign is no longer there when you drive and you reach a fork at 4 km, go left.

After going towards the lower parking lot (or left at the fork at 4km) drive until you feel completely freaked out by the road and then find a wide spot in the road to park your car. For me, this was about 700 more meters.

 

Diriving to brandywine meadows hike
This is after taking the left fork, about 500 meters in. This is a very steep hill with massive potholes, rocks, and loose gravel.

 

Hike the rest of the way in.

At 6 km from turning onto Brandywine FSR, you will reach a parking area with a signed trailhead – this is where the fun begins!

 

Hiking Details.

 

The first 2 km of the hike is hard with a relentless, steep uphill that is full of roots and fallen trees. The trail is marked by orange blazes on trees and pink ribbons in the trees. Keep your eyes peeled for them as it is easy to follow someone else’s previous missteps and find yourself bushwhacking or backtracking when the trail suddenly comes to an end.

I glanced at my watch around 1 kilometer in; you gain about 300 meters of elevation in the first kilometer of hiking. It is very slow going and will take longer than you expect. I would suggest you don’t keep an eye on your distance as you hike as it can be demoralizing since there is so much climbing.

The trail is covered in bark from old trees and is in a very lush forest. We hiked Brandywine on a 28-degree day and were glad for the tree cover. Make sure to take water with you as there isn’t water until you reach the meadows; you will definitely be pouring sweat on the way up.

 

Keep climbing!

 

At about 1.5 km, the trail becomes a little more gentle and you are almost to the meadows. You will have to rock hop a couple of creeks, but they are very manageable to cross with rocks and logs as makeshift bridges.

Suddenly the meadows loom ahead of you and all the hard work was worth it!

 

First view of brandywine meadows
The first view of the meadow – simply gorgeous!

 

I would suggest that you put this hike on your list for wildflower season. When we hiked, the flowers were long past but I can imagine that it is out of control with flowers in the middle of July.

Hike into the meadows as far as you want and take some time to have a snack and enjoy the views. We were turned around earlier than we wanted due to an impending rainstorm, so we didn’t get to the falls at the end of the meadow – but I highly recommend that you make it all the way there!

If you are feeling fit and want to make it a full day of hiking, you can keep climbing up the headwall. One of the books I read states that it is another 730 meters of elevation and to stay left for your initial ascent of Brandywine Mountain.

 

Brandywine meadows
We turned around here as it was 5:30 pm, a storm was coming, and we still had a campsite to find and a ten to put up! Start early and enjoy your time here!

 

The views are magnificent, but getting to the trailhead and the first half of the hike is a tad brutal. But, both of those things also mean that you will most likely have the place to yourself.

 

Enjoy!



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