Our Callaghan Country snowshoe adventures

Friends recently introduced us to Callaghan Country in Whistler for a snowshoe trip! The first thing I always do when I hear about a new place is to google it! And the looks of Alexander Falls in Winter impressed me. Little did I know that it’d turn out to be a little more complicated to actually hike to them!

On December 24th, we received a warning that the trail to the falls wasn’t accessible. The river hadn’t frozen shut sufficiently and the amount of water made the trail too dangerous to cross. So instead of heading for Alexander Falls, we chose a different snowshoe trail. Although hiking with friends guarantees a good time, our chosen trail (the Real Life trail) turned out fairly monotonous. It looked more like a cross-country skiing trail. And offered no outlooks on the scenery (the forest was beautiful of course). On top of that, the connector to Finger Lakes trail which would loop us back to the parking lot proved impossible to find. Our group (and other hikers we encountered) had to return the same way we came.

So I decided to email the Callaghan Country snowshoe company and tell them about the lack of online communication about the trail conditions. Long story short, we received a set of complimentary tickets. Together with a promise that the trail to the falls was definitely open.

Second try

I was excited to go back with Jelger and to finally find the bottom of Alexander Falls! That said, there’s also a nearby (free) viewing platform next to the road. So if you’re not in the mood for a hike, you could just hop out of your car and admire the falls from there haha.

The two of us drove back on January 7th. We chatted with the manager of the snowshoe part of the park when we arrived. He informed us that the staff in the little shed at the entry booth is not part of their organization. She must have given us incorrect information. Because apparently they don’t know about the actual snowshoeing conditions, because the snowshoe trails are never closed off (ehm, ok?!). So if you plan on going, make sure to ignore the advice from the entry booth and ask the staff at the guest service cabin next the parking lot about the trail conditions.

Alexander Falls

However, things got weirder. Once we finally arrived at the trail section that splits off towards the falls, we stumbled upon a sign that clearly stated “Alexander Falls Trail closed due to poor snow conditions”. But given our conversation with the manager who assured us safe passage to the falls, we decided to ignore the sign and venture on. Rest assured, we didn’t take unnecessary risks. There was only a steep but short descent down a slope, which took us hardly any effort to complete. So I can only assume the organization must have forgotten to remove the sign, lol.

All that said, Alexander Falls was absolutely worth the hassle! What a gigantic waterfall, and such impressive canyon rock walls on both sides. The snow muffled all other sounds and you could only hear the roaring water. We had fun playing in the snow and of course there was time for a mandatory selfie. This time, Jelger carried our tripod, hehe. Usually we find “natural tripods” like rocks or even our backpacks, but since cameras and wet snow don’t mix well, I decided to play it safe. 😉

Snowshoeing tip: wool is your friend

On a totally different note, an important lesson I learned this year while snowshoeing: wear merino wool base layers! I used to dismiss the concept because of the price point thinking “how much difference can fabric really make?“. But after suffering from mild hypothermia a few times last year and stumbling upon a great sale at Costco, I decided to give it a go. And I must say, the difference it makes is HUGE. We’re currently in the middle of planning a trip to a colder area in the middle of British Columbia with lots of hiking and I know I’ll be perfectly fine. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you’re inspired to try snowshoeing, there are lots of amazing (and free!) trails in North Vancouver. And if you’re excited enough about waterfalls, Alexander Falls trail is a relatively short trail that you can easily fit in a lazy afternoon. Which is great if you’re not a morning person (like us), lol. Jelger and I left in Vancouver around 10:30 am and had plenty of time to drive to Callaghan country and finish the hike before sunset.

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