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Brandywine Meadows is a nice hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in theCallaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in just 3k (trailhead to valley). The trailhead is tricky to find and involves a fairly long gravel road journey that is passable without a 4x4, but barely. Not that the road is potholed, which it is, but that it is at times very steep and strewn with loose boulders. Brandywine Meadows is used mainly for snowmobiling in the winter months and the bumpy ex-logging road to the trailhead is in poor condition in the summer. The Brandywine trail network in winter (approximately Dec-late April/early May) is for snowmobiles & ski touring only. No free public access.
The hike is consistently very steep for the first two kilometres. It is at times scenic though, despite being in very deep forest. The trail runs parallel to Brandywine Creek, which is steeply flowing, very loud and quite beautiful at various vantage points. After two kilometres on the Brandywine Meadows trail, the elevation gain levels off and you catch several alpine mountain peaks through the trees. And finally reaching the meadows, the amazing valley stretches into the distance, ending at the formidable mountains.
In that grey and white mass of mountain peaks in the distance you will see Brandywine Mountain. A visible and well worn trail skirts the right edge of the valley leading to the rocky slopes that lead you to Brandywine Mountain. The trail, of course, gives way to the mess of boulders and erratics that make the beautiful, flower filled meadows below look all the more serene. The mountains in the area, including Brandywine are hike-able, though the trails, if any are faint and unmarked. There are no camping facilities in Brandywine Meadows, however, the seemingly endless valley offers plenty of tent sites.
If you plan on camping before mid July, you will likely be on snow as the valley is snow filled until mid summer most years. The meadows are somewhat notorious for mosquitoes so avoiding the area in August is a good way to avoid the swarms. September and even October are possibly the best months to explore Brandywine Meadows. No snow, bugs or hikers to take away from the wonderful solitude of this great spot in the Callaghan Valley. As the Callaghan Valley is outside of Garibaldi Park, dogs a welcome in Brandywine Meadows.
Brandywine Meadows is very remote and wild by comparison to other Whistler hiking trails, so there are few direction signs. Even the trailhead sign is easily missed and the parking lot area is difficult for most vehicles to get to. Make sure you have driving directions memorized or printed out as getting lost on the way to a trailhead can make for a late and frustrating start. If you have a good 4x4 with high clearance, you should take the very challenging 4x4 road to the snowmobile hut and start at the trailhead there. It is much shorter, much easier, and the snowmobile hut is a pretty nice pit-stop or place to overnight.