Brandywine Meadows is not one of the more popular hikes in the Whistler area, but it is definitely one of the best options for quick access to beautiful alpine meadows and scramble-friendly peaks, providing you have the right vehicle to get there. The long and very bumpy road to the lower trailhead keeps the crowds away, and it is passible with a high-clearance two-wheel drive vehicle. The road gets steep at around the 5 kilometer mark, and you can park at the bottom of the hill and walk 1 kilometer on the road to the trailhead if necessary. It is possible but not recommended to get to this point in a car. The four-wheel drive road to the upper trailhead will take you almost to the tree line before you begin hiking, which saves 2.5 kilometers of hiking in the steep trees and allows you to save your energy for exploring the rugged alpine terrain up at the top.
The hike from the lower trailhead is a steep climb through forested terrain and loosely follows Brandywine Creek. The hiking is good exercise through a beautiful forest, but the trail remains relatively uneventful until you reach the alpine. After about 2 kilometers the gradient levels off and the trail from the upper trailhead joins from the right. Soon after you’ll crest a hill and descend into Brandywine Meadows, a large, flat-bottomed valley filled with wildflowers in the summer and colorful foliage in the fall. Expect to find snow here up until at least July. The area is very popular with snowmobilers in the winter and provides access to the Brandywine Icecap and beyond, and on a busy day you may see several hundred vehicles in the parking lot at the bottom of the road! During the summer you will likely see a only few other hikers, however, and you might even have the whole place to yourself.
The valley floor can be marshy at times on the banks of Brandywine Creek as it meanders through the flowery meadow, so the trail skirts up the right hand side of the creek to the base of the mountain. You’ll notice that there is no shortage of exploring to be done here. The peak of Brandywine Mountain is a popular scramble, but be aware that the route is unmarked and involves crossing and climbing some rather steep boulder fields. It’s also possible to hike up to the top of the ridge on the south side of the valley, which provides spectacular views of Mount Fee and Cypress peaks. The hike is dog-friendly, there’s plenty of water, and the dogs will love the open space up in the meadows. Beyond the base of the bowl the terrain gets quite rugged and might be challenging for dogs to navigate. There aren’t any camping facilities up here, though camping is allowed and there are plenty of great spots in the meadows, many with pre-existing fire pits. Campers should always be aware of wildlife, check fire regulations, and camp responsibly.