Rainbow Falls Loop is a super short hike near Whistler that will bring you up to a pretty waterfall; Rainbow Falls. It is possible to do this hike almost year round if you have the right shoes (or snowshoes!) In the summertime, once the snow has melted, this is a fun family friendly trail. The waterfall itself is actually two waterfalls that meet at the bottom with a big splash!
We visited on a cold spring morning when it had been snowing since dawn. The trail was pretty hard packed, and looked beautiful with a fresh layer of snow. I think normally you can follow an extra trail right to the base of the waterfall. We totally failed to spot that side trail in the snow, so we made do with views through the trees.
Rainbow Falls Loop
Distance: 2.1 km
Elevation gain: 120 m
Time: 45mins – 1 hour
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
Bear spray in summer
Microspikes or snowshoes in winter
There is a (pretty posh) pit toilet at the trailhead
Dogs: Dog friendly, BUT please note you can’t continue onto the alpine here with your pooch. Dogs are not allowed up to the Rainbow Alpine area, even on a leash.
How hard is it? Easy in summer, slightly harder when the trail is icy.
Extra Notes: The trails above this area are often closed at the end of the summer (September/October) due to grizzly activity in the area. If there is a bear in the area, they’ll post signs. This trail is pretty short, but I would still avoid it when the bears are busy.
Snacks before you walk
We popped into Whistler Creekside Village to a bakery called BReD before this walk to grab drinks/snacks. I couldn’t resist this mushroom/potato tart thing (with a crusty, doughy base.) It was incredible and reeeeally filling. BReD is a vegan sourdough bakery. If you fancy a snack (or want bread/humus to take home for later) it is totally worth visiting.
Rainbow Falls Loop – Getting started
The Rainbow Falls trailhead is on Alta Lake Road. There are quite a few parking spots, but it fills up very fast in the summertime, so it’s best to come early. You can hike the loop in either direction, but we went clockwise, so took the trail to the left of the carpark, next to the loo.
In March/April the trail is likely to be packed down, so microspikes were useful right from the start. We saw several hikers managing to do this loop with just boots, but they were sliding around. If there has been lots of new snow, you may also need snowshoes.
Is the loop easy to follow
There are several signposts along the way as well as orange markers on the trees to show you the path. However some smaller trails can be a bit hidden in the winter. We totally missed the turn off that brings you to the base of Rainbow Falls. I’ll have to go back and add that to my map above in the summer.
If you manage to stay on the right trail, you’re almost at the highest point when you reach the Whistler Water Supply Area. There is a board with a map, and plenty of signs to show you the right way. You turn down a slightly wider road at the top.
It’s kind of nice at the top as the trees open out so you can see the surrounding mountains. Well…I mean you could see them if it wasn’t snowing.
The waterfall is right below here, but you can’t actually see it from up on the trail.
Rainbow Falls Bridge
Follow the Flank Trail down to a pretty bridge over 21 Mile Creek. In the springtime, snow builds up on the bridge to make a tall, skinny plank in the center of the bridge for you to balance on as you cross.
Unless you have ridiculously long legs like my friend Tim. Folks with daddy long legs-like limbs can just shuffle across with one leg either side of the ice.
The bridge is sort of around the corner from the falls.
Frozen 21 Mile Creek
Everything was frozen when we visited so we could walk right on the creek to get close to a mini waterfall covered in icicles. The main falls are further around to the left of here.
Frozen Rainbow Falls
We climbed up on the banks on the opposite side of the falls. You can see them pretty well through the trees, but it looks rubbish in photos! Here is a teeny glimpse through the forest.
The Rainbow Falls Loop is a pretty fabulous mini adventure for when you only have an hour or so to spare near Whistler. I will try to pop back in the summertime and add a photo from the base of the falls. But we did love seeing it, even through the trees.
Other Whistler Waterfalls
There are even more great waterfalls around BC. I’ve added a map below with some of the ones we’ve visited. Green means you don’t have to walk, Blue is for waterfalls with easy walks and Dark Blue means you’ll need to do a slightly longer/harder walk to reach them.
Or if you’d like to save this one for later, click on the pins below to save it.