Last Updated on June 15, 2021
Whistler Train Wreck Hike
Whistler is one of the best ultimate adventure destinations in British Columbia. Few places get on our radar that keep us coming back again and again for more adventure. Whistler always seems to have more to discover, and unique places to discover too, like the Whistler Train Wreck hike.
One of our favorite hikes to do in Whistler is to the Train Wreck. The Train Wreck site is a popular attraction and is located near the Cheakamus River, just south of Whistler. The outdoor art gallery on the abandoned train in Whistler is celebrated for its visual juxtaposition of metal and nature, history, and culture. These rusty box cars are periodically transformed with a little spray paint into a really unique outdoor art gallery. We love that each time we visit we are given a bit of a different experience because the art is completely changed.
We brought the kids along for the fun this time. The kids became so wide-eyed by the train cars around them. Most of the 4.5km (out and back) trail to the Whistler Train Wreck site is easy. The trail only one very short steep downhill section near the suspension bridge, but the hike is definitely easy enough for all ages. The best time to do the hike is from May to November. In the winter months of December to March, snowshoes are recommended as the area sees a lot of snowfall.
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Sea To Sky Trail
The train wreck trail is also part of the Sea To Sky trail, which connects the adventure towns of Squamish and Whistler. You can also hike to Brandywine Falls Provincial Park from the same Train Wreck parking lot. To reach Brandywine Falls is an additional 12.5km.
Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge you cross to access the train wreck site needed to be added back in 2016. People would illegally (and dangerously) hike to the train wreck along train tracks. The added bridge has a fun locomotive feel. Crossing the suspension bridge, you’re crossing the Cheakamus River rushing below you. Once you’re across the suspension bridge, you’re almost at the train wreck site.
A short distance away from the bridge, you’ll find yourself surrounded by boxcars. Seven box cars have been painted again and again by local artists. Just like how the rings of a tree stump show the age of trees, the layers of paint show years of beautiful artistic expression. The sight is both eerie and beautiful. Mountain biking ramps have also been built.
See the Train Wreck Site and Suspension Bridge Map here.
Whistler Train Wreck History
According to research from the Whistler Museum, the train derailed in 1956 when a freighter heading south from Lillooet came too fast into an area under track repair. It was the fourth engine that turned a rail and caused the train wreck. The wreck happened in a rock-cut after the boxcars, which were loaded with lumber, got jammed and blocked the line. A logging company owned by Whistler’s Valleau family was hired to remove the cars with their heavy-duty logging machines. The trains were dragged up the tracks and rolled into the forest where you find them today. Now, after 65 years, the forest has continued to thrive around the boxcars. A twisted mystery for years, it is nice to now have some insight into how it all happened.
Take a look at the Train Wreck Trail and what we found:
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Whistler Train Wreck Trail Directions:
- From Vancouver, head north on the Sea to Sky Highway towards Whistler.
- As you are approaching Whistler, take a right at Function Junction, onto Cheakamus Lake Road.
- Veer right onto Legacy Way, and take the bridge over the Cheakamus River.
- Take the next right on Jane Lakes Road.
- You’ll pass the Cheakamus River Forest Service Road on your right.
- Just beyond the service road, you will see a parking area to your left.
- There is signage for the Train Wreck Site.