There are plenty of fantastic, easy and kid friendly hiking trails in Whistler. The amazing Whistler Train Wreck tops this list. Not only from the extraordinary train wreckage and paintings, but also for the numerous views of the Cheakamus River. Parkhurst Ghost Town is also an easy, yet beautiful trail that takes little exertion to get to. This is a top 5 list of the best easy trails in Whistler. If you are ambitious, you can fit all these into one beautiful day.
Whistler Train Wreck is possibly the nicest, easy hiking trail in Whistler. Less than 5 kilometres roundtrip, the trail has hardly any elevation gain/loss and is easy to follow. Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. The cost to clean up the mess was evidently considered 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 Cheakamus River winds its way, crashing and emerald green along the length of the Whistler Train Wreck, and there are several spectacular river vantage points that shouldn't be missed. 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. In the fall of 2014 a new suspension bridge will be built, linking the Whistler Train Wreck trail to Trash Trail on the opposite side of Cheakamus River.
Why is the Train Wreck the Best Easy Hike in Whistler?
Beautiful, easy, relaxing, so much to see. Convenient, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway in Function Junction(8k south of Whistler Village). Whistler Train Wreck is one of the best places in Whistler for a picnic or glass of wine. A very easy, interesting and definitely a kid friendly hike.
Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and easy hiking trails, however, ranks as one of the most amazing and unusual. The marked trailhead to Parkhurst is tricky to find, but once you find it the trail is well marked and easy to follow. 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. Parkhurst continued as a small logging town until the logging industry slowed down in the 1950's and in the 1966 Parkhurst was finally abandoned. If you have a good look around Parkhurst today, you can find remnants of its past almost everywhere you look. From the old disintegrating truck from the 50's to the absurdly and improbably located car being consumed by the forest.
Why is Parkhurst One of the Best Easy Hikes in Whistler?
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.
The alpine hiking trails on Whistler Mountain are the ultimate in luxurious hiking. Little hiking effort gets you amazing views of turquoise lakes, snowy mountain, valleys of flowers, waterfalls and spectacular glaciers. In the summer months, Whistler Mountain is somewhat divided in two. The lower half of the mountain is for biking and the upper half is for hiking, sightseeing, trail running, eating and drinking. There are a few directions you can start hiking from the Roundhouse Lodge, however, taking the Peak Express(quad chairlift) up to the summit of Whistler Mountain is an amazing place to start. The Peak Express is an exhilarating ride that takes you to the start of Whistler Mountain's best hiking trails. The Half Note Trail, High Note Trail and Mathew's Traverse start here. The High Note Trail in turn leads to the Musical Bumps Trail to Russet Lake and Singing Pass in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The summit of Whistler Mountain is also a destination of its own. Spectacular views all around from this rocky, alpine summit visible from almost everywhere in Whistler. Black Tusk comes into view as you exit the Peak Express. This amazingly distinct pinnacle of jet-black rock is a local icon and remnant of a not too distant history of volcanism in the area. As you admire its absurdly vertical form, remind yourself that there is almost certainly a few hikers looking back at you from its summit.
Looking right as you get off the Peak Express you will see an enormous inuksuk. A remnant of the 2010 Olympic Games and now a fixture in thousands of photos. This beautiful stacking of huge rocks is a take-away from the Inuit tradition of marking routes in an otherwise stark landscape with a human form. The inuksuk is part of the Whistler Summit Interpretive Walk.
Why are the Whistler Mountain Trails some of the best in Whistler?
The iconic inuksuk at the summit of Whistler Mountain is part of the Whistler Summit Interpretive Walk. This 1.6 kilometre(1 mile), trail takes you along an excellent route around the summit of Whistler to one amazing viewpoint after another. Branching off of the Whistler Summit Interpretive Walk you will see the High Note Trail extend toward the rocky cliffs. The High Note Trail is a beautiful trail that skirts the edge of Whistler Mountain for several kilometres before bending back around Whistler to the Roundhouse Lodge. A total of 9.4 kilometres(6 miles), the High Note Trail is a must-see trail on Whistler.
Blackcomb Mountain has come alive with beautiful hiking trails in recent years. With the 2008 addition of the Peak to Peak Gondola which connects Blackcomb to Whistler, the demand for mountain trails is higher than ever. A dozen years ago, you would just have had some rough hiking trails to follow, and not many hikers to follow them. Now you have mapboards, trail signs, viewpoint seating areas and six popular, named trails to hike. The trails are mostly easy and relaxing, however the Decker Loop Trail at the far end of Blackcomb is very challenging and spectacularly scenic. For the most part, you will find yourself winding through a nice alpine forest scattered with enormous fields of erratics leading to one great viewpoint after another. You can hike for as little as 15 minutes or more than 3 hours, depending on the trail or trails you choose to follow. Blackcomb Lake and Blackcomb Peak that looms far above it are the most popular destinations for hikers and getting there and back can be done in a couple hours. The trails begin at the Rendezvous Lodge at the heart of Blackcomb Mountain. The Alpine Walk trail is your first section of this larger trail. It consists of a 1.6k(1mile) loop trail that takes you from the Rendezvous Lodge to the alpine to view of the Fitzsimmons Valley that separates Blackcomb and Whistler mountains.
This easy trail winds through huge fields of boulders and mangled alpine trees to a beautiful viewpoint area amongst the enormous erratics overlooking the valley below. In the distance you will see Whistler Mountain and clearly visible ski runs and snowy mountains beyond. Lots of trail signs direct you to either circle back to the Rendezvous Lodge or continue further along the Overlord Trail. The Overlord Trail continues along the edge of Blackcomb Mountain and the scenic alpine forest that surrounds it. Overlord then runs another 1.6k(1 mile) to the far end of Blackcomb before entering Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Why are the Blackcomb Trails some of the best in Whistler?
There are an excellent variety of trails on Blackcomb and they all have great views and beautiful alpine features. Blackcomb Lake is stunning and surrounded by jagged and almost vertical peaks. The trails are fun for all ages and abilities and every trail junction clearly shows how to continue hiking or start your return journey back to the Rendezvous Lodge and Peak to Peak Gondola.
Cheakamus River is the beautiful, crashing and turquoise coloured river that flows from Cheakamus Lake, through the Cheakamus Valley to Daisy Lake. Also a popular kayaking route, the main attraction to Cheakamus River is the wonderful and quite extensive network of hiking and biking trails that run along either side of it. Several trails run throughout the forest around the enormous 70 kilometre length of Cheakamus River including the Cheakamus Lake trail, the Whistler Train Wreck trail and the Sea to Sky Trail. For the most part, however, if you are talking about the Cheakamus River trails you are likely talking about the Farside and Riverside trails in Whistler's Interpretive Forest. Eight kilometres south of Whistler Village and surrounding the recently constructed neighbourhood of Cheakamus Crossing is Whistler Interpretive Forest. This beautiful forest surrounds the Cheakamus River and has been cut and replanted in several areas in the past decades.
Hiking and biking trails have sprung up over the years making the area a wonderful place to explore. The main highlights of the Interpretive Forest are the beautiful Cheakamus River and the extraordinary Logger's Lake.
Why should you hike the Cheakamus River Trails?
Right from the first glimpse of Cheakamus River you will be amazed. The turquoise and white foaming water crashes through the rocky and often abrupt cliffs on either side of the river. Both the Farside and Riverside trails in Whistler Interpretive Forest take you to one breathtaking viewpoint after the next. The location of Cheakamus River is quite good as well. At 8 kilometres south of Whistler Village, the Cheakamus Valley hiking trails are considerably quieter than the hectic trails around the Village and you get a much more of a wilderness feel to while hiking.