Shadow Lake and Nairn Falls

December 31, 2005

Hundreds of cars pass along the highway between Whistler and the town of Pemberton daily but very few stop to see Shadow Lake hidden from view less than a 100 meters from the road.

Park at the Shadow Lake parking lot next to the highway and take a look at the map of the area. If you are just looking for a very short walk, take the trail behind the sign through the Shadow Lake Interpretive Forest.

You can walk through areas of managed and natural forests. In some places you can see salvage harvesting which main objective in this case is to avoid the spread of the mountain pine bettle plague.

You can see the pruning used to eliminate knots that may be produced by the growth of lower branches reducing the quality of the wood. 

If you have time, you can do a quick stop on the nearby Nairn Falls Provincial Park just before Pemberton. This place is home to the only boa constrictor in Canada. Unlike its giant tropical relatives, the secretive rubber boa is only 45 cm (18 inches) long and feeds on small rodents that it finds in the leaf litter on the forest floor. Rubber boas are one of only two species of boa found in North America. Unlike other B.C. snakes, they often live in forests.

The trail to Nairn Falls is only 1.5 km, along the trail you can have views of Green River. Once you reach the falls, you can learn how they were formed.

On the previous picture, you can see an interesting phenomenon. The river carries sand and gravel which have worn away the bedrock. When the river water moves in a circular motion, these abrasive particles carve round depressions called potholes.

Occassionally, this carving causes the bottom of neighbouring pot holes to join through an underground passage. A bridge is left standing as the river flows through the passage below.

Over one hundred and fifty million years ago, this area was near the shore of a vast ocean. Gradually the earth's crust moved upwards and crushed nearby volcanic islands against the shoreline.

Further upheavals and other movements of the earth's crust changed this area from a seashore to a mountainous area.

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Driving distance from Vancouver: 154 km (95.7 mi)

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