Best Easy Hikes in Whistler The Whistler Train Wreck
Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. The cost to clean up the mess was deemed too high, so seven train cars were left scattered next to the Cheakamus River. As it turns out, time and local effort has transformed this mess into a wonderful work of art, an extraordinary bike park, and a great place to hike.
The Whistler Train Wreck hike is much more than a hike through a beautifully, gnarled train wreckage. It has become a bizarre and beautiful adult playground of sorts. A technically amazing bike park has been built there. You will notice almost immediately on one of the first train wrecks that there is a wooden ramp extending off the top of one and a corresponding ramp, far below. On the other end of the car there is a ramp leading up to the roof of the car. It is stunning to think that this is part of the now, Whistler Train Wreck Bike Park.
If you are after an amazing place to have a beer, toast champagne by a campfire in a spectacular and spectacularly odd place, the Whistler Train Wreck is hard to beat. There are even several remarkably beautiful, though unmarked places to put up a tent.
The Cheakamus River is also quite and amazing attraction at the Whistler Train Wreck. It is violently loud and churning and there are several fantastic spots, high up on the rocks to watch it.
The Whistler Train Wreck, though buried in snow half of the year is accessible year-round. You may have to hike through snow here and there, but it's a minor inconvenience for such an amazing spot.
Why should you hike Whistler Train Wreck?
Beautiful, easy, relaxing, so much to see. Convenient, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. Popular as a 5.4k trail running route. Whistler Train Wreck is one of the best places in Whistler for a picnic or glass of wine. A very kid friendly hike.
Best Easy Hikes in Whistler Parkhurst Ghost Town
Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and free hiking trails andcertainly ranks as one of the most unusual. Parkhurst was a little logging town perched on the edge of Green Lake way before Whistler was Whistler. Up on the ridge where Parkhurst sits, the views are sensational. Green lake far below, a solid unnatural looking mass of green. Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains out in the distance to the left and Rainbow Mountain across and beyond the lake.
What makes Parkhurst Ghost Town such a great hiking trail and destination is where it is located and the trail to get to it. One route, one of several ways to get to it, runs along the scenic Green River and next to the still active train tracks that run through Whistler. There always seems to be something to see. From the beautiful meadow along the train tracks, to the suddenly deep forest where you have to play a game of finding the next, pink tree marker or risk wandering off the trail. The trail markers are numerous, and though getting lost is inevitable, you can only stray a few metres before, the river or steep terrain push you back onto the marked trail. Once up on the ridge above Green Lake where Parkhurst is located, the forest takes on a spooky feel. Trees are all far apart and with branches only high up give the forest a unnaturally lifeless look.
Decades ago, logging instead of tourism was the town-supporting industry. Eventually the logging industry slowed down and in the 50's, Parkhurst was abandoned. As recent as the late 90's a few houses remained standing, but the merciless winters with crushing snow has collapsed all but one house. There are a couple half collapsed relics, but for the most part the town has disintegrated.
Unexpectedly, even in the deep snow of winter, stumbling on remnants of the old town are frequent. Countless half collapsed houses lay in the picturesque forest that has grown since the town was abandoned. There are several abandoned vehicles in the town. An old rusty car, an older truck, and an ancient and enormous logging tractor perched as it was decades ago, on the edge of Green Lake. Quite a marvel to see. Like a giant museum exhibit.
Just steps from the impressive tractor, if you are lucky and persistent, you can find another piece of abandoned tractor. This huge and solid piece of steel, left so long ago, has had trees grow in and around it. A large tree, over 50 years old now grows in a triangle shape through this ancient machinery. Squeezing into the only shape it could, but bewildering to see.
If surreal and spooky camping, or just getting away from the noise of Whistler interests you, then Parkhurst Ghost Town will thrill you. With a tent on the edge of the cliff above Green Lake and silence all around, the sunsets are wonderful.
Why should you hike the Parkhurst Ghost Town trail?
Parkhurst Ghost Town is located next to the beautiful and new Sea to Sky Trail that runs high above the very scenic Green Lake just north of Whistler. This allows for including Parkhurst into a longer hike that can begin from Whistler Village, extend through the Lost Lake trails up to the Sea to Sky Trail, then descend to Parkhurst on the shore of Green Lake. Of all the routes to Parkhurst, none are boring and seeing a bit of pre-Whistler history is interesting and a bit surreal at times.
Best Easy Hikes in Whistler Brandywine Falls
Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the way to or from Whistler. The falls drop from a 66 metre, unnaturally abrupt cliff to the valley below. It is such a popular and beautiful sight that it is a Provincial Park complete with a large and elaborate viewing platform directly opposite the falls.
Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is just off of the Sea to Sky Highway. If driving from Vancouver, keep your eyes out for the Brandywine Falls sign on your right about 25 minutes north of Squamish.
The parking lot is immediately off the highway and the short 1 kilometre trail takes you over then alongside the Cheakamus River to the viewing area. The only facilities in the park are pit toilets and picnic tables and there is no charge for hiking or for parking your vehicle in the park.
The gate off of the highway is locked at night and in the winter so at these times you simply park at the edge of the highway and hike past the gate. In the winter you often see people strapping on snowshoes for the short trek to the falls in the snow.
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is attached to the wonderful Sea to Sky Trail which runs between and beyond Whistler and Squamish. It is a wide, gravel biking and hiking trail that will eventually extend north to Pemberton.
This is the end of the (almost) entirely uninterrupted Whistler section of the Sea to Sky Trail. With the exception of a few very short road sections, this 33 kilometre trail was on a beautiful, paved, sometimes dirt, but usually wide, crushed rock trail.
Why should you hike to Brandywine Falls?
Brandywine Falls is amazingly beautiful and very easy and quick to hike to. Just a 20 minute pit stop on the drive to or from Whistler allows you to see this amazing falls. Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls, just south of Squamish are both convenient, quick and beautiful stops on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler.
Best Easy Hikes in Whistler Nairn Falls
Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from above. The beautiful, green water rushes through the deep and angular channels of rock. Though the BC Parks website describes Nairn Falls as 60 metres high, the description is misleading. The falls crash through various narrow and wide areas, and though the cumulative drop is 60 metres, what you see is a series of 10 to 20 metre falls.
There are a nicely constructed railing, fence and viewing area and walkway that guides you to the best views. With such abruptly steep rock all around, the area would be potentially dangerous. Evidently there have been deaths here before. A cross, reverently placed across the chasm from the viewing platform, indicates of some tragic event.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just a short 20 minute drive north of Whistler. From the large parking lot the well marked trail runs along the Green River for 1.2k to Nairn Falls. The trail is very easy and is hike-able year-round. Though considerable snow falls in the winter months here, the trail remains passable. There is quite a large and beautiful campground at Nairn Falls as well. Located right next to the parking lot there are 94 vehicle accessed campsites that disappear into the forest adjacent to the Green River. The campground is open May 11 - September 30.
The other months the entry gate is locked to the park and a small, highway-side parking area is used to access the park. The charge for camping is $18 per party, per night, during the months the campground is open. Outside of that window there is obviously no charge and you won't be prohibited from camping during the off season. From the parking lot, a hiking trail also goes along the Green River in the opposite direction to Nairn Falls. This 2k trail takes you to One Mile Lake good for swimming. Dogs are welcome at Nairn Falls Provincial Park, however bikes are not. There is a hand operated water pump, picnic tables and pit toilets. There is no charge for entry to the park or for parking. The only fees in the park are for overnight camping.
Why should you hike to Nairn Falls?
Nairn Falls is a short and easy, family friendly hike to a very impressive waterfall. Perfect for an afternoon drive/hike/picnic from Whistler. A relaxing and family friendly hike.
Best Easy Hikes in Whistler Ancient Cedars
Ancient Cedars often gets overlooked by hikers in Whistler. Certainly the large numbers of centuries old, massive cedars found in much of the other Whistler area hikes makes looking for them on a specific hike less of a priority. For example, hike the short 3k trail to Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars. The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the Ancient Cedars Trail. They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old. The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5k up a bumpy logging road. The Ancient Cedars trail is well marked and well worn and only gradually uphill for the 2.5k hike, trailhead to ancient forest. At the Ancient Cedars forest there is a short circle trail that takes you throughout the giants then leads you back to the main trail for the return journey...
Why should you hike the Ancient Cedars trail?
The most impressive cedars in Whistler and a nice, easy and relaxing hike. Can be combined with a scenic drive north of Whistler to see the Green Lake viewpoint on the Sea to Sky Highway.