Rainbow Falls – Whistler Walks

Rainbow Falls – Whistler Walks

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

We love finding waterfalls. Whistler has several other fantastic waterfalls near here (the most obvious three are Alexander Falls, Brandywine Falls and Nairn Falls.
Alexander Falls - A fun snowshoeing trail near Whistler Brandywine Falls on the Lava Lake Loop - Fun, easy hike near Whistler Nairn Falls - beautiful Waterfall near Whistler

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.

Snowshoeing to Rainbow Falls in Whistler, Canada Rainbow Falls - Whistler Waterfalls you can visit in the snow, Canada Rainbow Falls in Whistler - A short family friendly hike or snowshoe

45 thoughts on “Rainbow Falls – Whistler Walks

  1. So much ice/ snow!! Absolutely gorgeous! I’d be a bit worried about walking on all that ice though – I can slip on the tiniest of ice patch 😛 Hopefully with snow shoes it’s easier.
    And yikes, grizzlies!
    That mushroom tart looks amazing – has made me hungry!

    1. Yeah me too! If you wear microspikes (they fit over your shoes) you don’t slip at all. It makes this kind of walk soooo much better!

  2. Wow, that is one snowy walk! It looks a bit chilly but the scenery looks stunning! The icicles dripping from the waterfall look impressive! And that tart looks delicious! Thanks for sharing this guide!

    1. Yeah we got really lucky to see it with fresh snow so late in the snow season. I LOVE seeing the icicles but i’d still like to get close to the main waterfall next time.

  3. Wow! This is so pretty! I’ve never hiked this much in the snow, but these gorgeous photos have really inspired me!

    1. This one is actually really good for a first snow trail (as it is so short!) Once you try it, hiking in the snow can be sooo fun!

  4. First of all, that sourdough bread with the mushroom looks amazing! I like that this is only a short walk which is great for the winter when it’s freezing and you maybe don’t want to be out too long.

    1. It was only meant to be a small snack…but that thing was sooo filling! I guess the double carbs of potato and break is what I needed in the snow. 😀

  5. Haha oh man, I hate it when you can’t catch the side trails like that! It’s great once folks have packed down the snow since sometimes you can discover new ones but ah well, that just means you’ll have something to look forward to next time you do the hike! I mean, I think I’d go there just for that delicious snack you had – good eats AND waterfalls?! Count me IN!

    1. It’s okay in the end…we still have a few hikes we want to do from this trailhead in the summer…so I am sure we’ll go back and find the falls next time.

      p.s. yay for frozen falls! I always love seeing the ones on your side of Canada!

  6. That looks beautiful with all the snow! I’m a waterfall junky so this is def being added to my list of hikes!

    1. Oooh you will LOVE the waterfalls near Whistler if you can visit Tiffany! There are sooo many good’uns near here.

  7. What a beautiful trail! But yikes that is a lot of snow to hike in! Way to go as I’m impressed! It is so pretty covered in snow but I might wait til summer. Lol. But I must admit that mushroom tart would be such a yummy treat post hike!

    1. Thanks Vanessa! I think you could manage this one (it was pretty short, so totally doable in the snow)

      But waiting until summer is always fun too. <3

  8. Wow, so much snow! I love a good waterfall too. I miss snow, we don’t have much in the UK. If I am ever this way, I’ll make sure I visit.

    1. Thanks Martina. I’m from the UK originally so I was not used to snow at all when we first got here! It is pretty fun to hike in once you get used to it though!

  9. Oh boy! What an amazing snowy adventure you had. Reminded me of my last snow hiking experience. Can’t wait to do it again in winters this year.

  10. It looks so pretty in the fresh snow and your snack sounds soooo good. I didn’t understand what you meant about the skinny ridge of snow on the bridge until I saw your second photo; how strange . . . and treacherous.

  11. Alright Josy, you know I am an avid backpacker so I LOVE your posts but dang girl, this looks sooo COLD!!!!!! Don’t get me wrong, I love how white it all looks and your pictures, especially of the Frozen Mill Creek are gorgeous. But I dont know if I would stop long enough to enjoy it cause there arent enough thermal underwear in the world to keep this poor Cuban boy warm. Maybe if you lit the Mushroom Potato Tart thing from BrED on fire maybe I would survive.
    Haha, but in all seriousness, I love that you guys are getting out and seeing the different aspects of Whistler in different seasons!
    Buen Camino mi amiga!

    1. Thanks Eric!

      Although I totally think you could do this one! It’s not long (so we honestly didn’t get cold…) and there are looads of cafes in Whistler you can visit afterwards where you can warm up with coffee/hot chocolate!

      Maybe this kind of walk will get into one of your bucket list posts one day!?

  12. I love snowy walks! Something about the fresh powder quiets everything down and the stillness is incredible. Especially if you go before things melt and turn into ice or slush. I also love sourdough bread! What a fun adventure!

    1. To be honest, I was expecting this to be a bit slushy (as we went in spring!) but yeah the weather in whistler can change quickly so it was snowy *just* before we got there!

  13. Hehehe, I believe I may qualify for the “long legs” way to cross Rainbow Falls Bridge.
    You write; “If there is a bear in the area, they’ll post signs.”. That got me thinking. I hope they check often and don’t wait until the number of arrivals and departures from the parking lot show a mismatch… Sorry, couldn’t resist writing that.
    Well, when this is cleared up, I think this hike would be perfect for me as it is only 2.1km and the “mushroom/potato tart thing” looks yummy too.

  14. I’ve never done a snow hike, this looks so pretty though! I think I’d like to try it in the summer! That Bread looks soo yummy!!

  15. Your pictures with the freshly fallen snow are gorgeous! That bridge looks a little freaky with the raised narrow bit of snow on it, but it’s good to know that microspikes were helpful on this hike. That little mushroom flatbread from BReD looks AMAZING! Also, I really love that AllTrails map you include. I always zoom out just to get a sense of where the hikes are, and I love that you’ve got it right in your blog posts every time and I don’t have to go over to Google Maps 😀

    1. Thanks Kevin!
      Yeah google maps isn’t always so good in these areas (as they only show some of the smaller trails…) I am glad you like them. I totally do the same thing on other people’s hiking blogs.

      But you know, I think you would LOVE this area. The scenery is fab and there are sooo many good coffee shops. It’s caffeinated excursions heaven!!

  16. What a beautiful place! Makes me almost miss winter when I see pictures like these. I do love a good winter hike especially when there are waterfalls involved. I’d like to check this place out, in either winter or summer as I’m sure it’s beautiful in any season

  17. Amazing photos and I love how much detail you share. The thing you got from that bakery looks soo good.

  18. I almost keeled over laughing at daddy long legs-like limbs! One of these days I need to make it up to our local mountains and hike in the snow – I always love seeing your photos from when you do. And since I won’t be making it to Canada soon, I must take advantage of local attractions that are similar! Must get microspikes like you suggest too

    1. Oh yay! I am glad that made sense (sometimes I worry that people might not understand me as I didn’t see any daddy long legs since we got to North America!)

      I bet there is still some snow up there now!? I was up at around 1000m elevation at the weekend, and there was still loooads.

  19. Hi Josy,

    I’m planning a trip out to Whistler next year to snowboard and came across your blog while looking for some other activities to do in the area. Looks like I’ll have to pack my snowshoes as well!!

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks for the comment Bobby!

      There are quite a few other fun trails for snowshoeing nearby (and the skiing/snowboarding is amaaaazing!) Our favorite so far near Whistler was the trail to a frozen Alexander Falls. Or, if you have a bit of experience, hiking/snowshoeing up to Garibaldi Lake is incredible.

      I hope you have a fantastic trip!

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