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Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the way to or from Whistler. The falls drop from a 66 metre, unnaturally abrupt cliff to the valley below. Such a popular and beautiful sight that it is a Provincial Park complete with a large and elaborate viewing platform directly opposite the falls. Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. If driving from Vancouver, keep your eyes out for the Brandywine Falls sign on your right about 25 minutes north of Squamish. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park was established in 1973 as a campground and recreational area. The origin of the name for Brandywine Falls is suspected to have come from a wager by two surveyors.
Legend has it that Jack Nelson and Bob Mollison, working for the Howe Sound and Northern Railway made a wager for a bottle of brandy for who could guess how high the falls were. Measured by a chain, Mollison won the wager and bottle of brandy and Nelson named the falls Brandywine. The parking lot is immediately off the highway and the short 1 kilometre trail takes you over then alongside the Cheakamus River to the viewing area. The only facilities in the park are pit toilets and picnic tables and there is no charge for hiking or for parking your vehicle in the park.
The gate off of the highway is locked at night and in the winter so at these times you simply park at the edge of the highway and hike past the gate. In the winter you often see people strapping on snowshoes for the short trek to the falls in the snow. The start of the trail takes you across a small, covered bridge over the river. The trail then continues along the river and leads to the wonderful viewing area across from the falls. The trail then continues another hundred metres to another viewing area. This viewpoint overlooks Daisy Lake, the massive lake that Brandywine Falls empties into. On a sunny day, Black Tusk dominates the skyline here. An unmarked trail continues from this viewpoint and continues along the cliffs and to a very difficult trail down to the base of the falls. The first section requires lowering yourself down by rope, so should only be tackled by the adventurous and very fit.
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is attached to the wonderful Sea to Sky Trail which runs between and beyond Whistler and Squamish. It is a wide, gravel biking and hiking trail that will eventually extend north to Pemberton. Swim Lake is another interesting sight to see in Brandywine Falls Park and is at the end of a short and easy trail off of the main trail near the train tracks. Swim Lake once had a cute little pier which made it amazing for swimming, however you will now see the pier at the bottom of the lake. Several winters of heavy snow has permanently waterlogged it and it sits on the bottom like an old shipwreck. Due to the overgrown shoreline and narrow and few entry points, Swim Lake is not terribly inviting for a swim. It is however, seldom visited and you almost always have the lake all to yourself and once you get a few metres out you find yourself in a swimming paradise.
Years ago, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park was a campground, however this is no longer the case. No camping is allowed, although there are about a dozen picnic tables in a wonderful setting around the parking area. The parking lot gates are locked 8am to 8pm, so if you plan on visiting the park outside these hours be sure to park outside the gates without blocking anything.