The Sea to Sky Trail Whistler
The Sea to Sky Trail is a 180 kilometre hiking, biking, walking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and running trail that stretches from Squamish to D'Arcy. Overall the trail is still under construction, however, the beautiful route through Whistler is finally in place and for the most part, complete. This extraordinary trail meanders its way through many of Whistler's seemingly endless, beautiful sights
The Whistler section of the Sea to Sky Trail is 33 kilometres long between Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and WedgeWoods Estates just north of Green Lake (north of Whistler Village). The Whistler section of the trail is paved near the Village, and further out, dirt or crushed rock. Some sections are narrow, dirt and challenging as they wind through deep forest in an absurdly winding, though very fun, roller coaster like route through the trees.
North of Whistler Village the trail can be challenging with several hills as it rises above and beyond Parkhurst Ghost Town. This marvellous and newly built section is a wide, crushed rock path that is relaxing and smooth despite continuous hills to reach the summit of the trail. High above Green Lake, the high point of the Whistler part of the Sea to Sky Trail has some fantastic views of mountains all around.
South of Whistler Village, the paved Whistler Valley Trail that the Sea to Sky Trail shares, ends at Cheakamus Crossing and becomes a narrow dirt trail with some wider sections of crushed rock. This beautiful section follows the Cheakamus River making four dramatically beautiful river crossings.
The Cal-Cheak area is one of these beautiful crossings. The Calcheak Suspension Bridge spans the wide and always rushing and chaotic Cheakamus River.
You can't help wonder how Whistler seems to have these great bridges on various trails. They are very long and well constructed and certainly expensive. There is another one further up the Cheakamus River towards Cheakamus Lake.
Evidently, if you are thinking the cute suspension bridge at Calcheak is nice you are in for a shock. Further down the trail you come to the enormous, chasm spanning, Whistler Bungee Bridge. This amazing bridge crosses way above the Cheakamus River far below. The bridge is ridiculously long and absurdly high. Expect to spend some time in this area, not just for the amazing bridge, but also the cliffs just past the bridge, that have some impressive views as well.
Across the Bungee Bridge the Sea to Sky Trail passes near and past some nice viewpoints of distant mountains and valleys. The trail eventually leads directly through Brandywine Provincial Park and very close to the wonderful viewpoint across to the falls.
Brandywine Falls is a great place to park your car and start out on the trail. Calcheak is also a good place to park and there is plenty of room near the, hard-to-miss Sea to Sky Trail signs.
Nearer to Whistler Village there are dozens of good places to park. All of the parks in Whistler on the trail have convenient and free parking.
Right in Whistler Village you will find parking near Lost Lake Park in Lot 4 and get on the trail just metres from your car. North of Whistler there is convenient and free parking at Nicklaus North Golf Course, just a five minute walk from the Green Lake part of the Sea to Sky Trail that rises from the Lost Lake Trail.
Further north still, the turnoff for Wedgemount Lake, just north of Green Lake has lots of parking near the Sea to Sky Trailhead there.
Whistler Sea to Sky Trail Brandywine Falls to Cheakamus Crossing
This is an incredible section of the Sea to Sky Trail. The trail is filled with amazing highlights and viewpoints. There are three convenient places to begin this section of the trail, Brandywine Falls, Cal-Cheak or at Cheakamus Crossing. All have free parking just metres from the trail and all are close to some amazing sights. This description will describe the route south to north as if starting from Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.
Brandywine Falls is one of the many to or from Whistler and Vancouver. Located just 20 minutes south of Whistler, Brandywine Falls is the southern gateway to the Sea to Sky Trail. Whether you are hiking or biking the Sea to Sky Trail or just taking a quick look at the falls, Brandywine Provincial Park is certainly a must-see stop on the Sea to Sky Highway. on the Sea to Sky Highway
From the parking lot (park outside the gates if closed), you will see the large Sea to Sky Trail sign and mapboard indicating where to go. You cross the covered bridge and the first fork in the trail with the Sea to Sky Trail sign pointing right takes you to the Brandywine Falls lookout in 300 metres. Just before the falls lookout there is another sign for the Sea to Sky Trail branching to the left for the Calcheak Suspension Bridge 4k and Cheakamus Bungee Bridge 2.6k.
The trail descends down a nice and wide gravel trail that winds through the forest and after a few hundred metres begins to ascend up to a nice viewpoint that looks across the valley. Continuing on the trail you ascend through various other viewpoints until reaching the amazing Cheakamus Bungee Bridge at 2.6k. This huge and very high bridge spans the enormous chasm across the Cheakamus River with breathtaking views all around. Across the bridge the Sea to Sky Trail route continues along the Bungee Bridge access road before again becoming the Sea to Sky Trail. The trail now becomes a narrow, dirt and deeply forested path that runs along the beautiful Cheakamus River and then crosses it at the Calcheak Suspension Bridge.
The Calcheak Suspension Bridge leads to the beautiful Calcheak Campground in an amazing setting of deep forest and serene riverside campsites everywhere you look. The location is great as well as it lays just south of Whistler with the Sea to Sky Trail passing through it. The 51 campsites are well spaced and very private feeling and are open year-round. All are just a short walk the the suspension bridge and just 4k to Brandywine Falls. If you plan to stay at the campsite you can just show up and set up camp and a site operator should come by eventually to collect fees ($10/site).
To drive to the Calcheak Campground look for the small "Calcheak Campground" sign just 3k north of Brandywine Falls on the Sea to Sky Highway. If you are just looking to park your car while on the Sea to Sky Trail, just look for the Sea to Sky Trail signs about 200 metres after you turn off of the Highway. The Sea to Sky Trail crosses the road and is easy to spot. Plenty of parking along the side of the road by the trailhead is available.
The clear Sea to Sky Trail sign heading north indicates that Athletes Village is 4.8k. This is the nice new neighbourhood across from Function Junction called Cheakamus Crossing. This section of the trail is winding, narrow, hilly and very enjoyable. The trail is sometimes gravel and sometimes dirt. Though the deep forest keeps the views on this section to a minimal it is very fun on a bike. The roller coaster feeling trail, wonderfully never follows a straight line as is runs along the Cheakamus River. A side trail near Cheakamus Crossing to the left takes you to some amazing views of Cheakamus River.
Once at Cheakamus Crossing the trail continues along a quiet residential road leading to a bridge across the Cheakamus River. There are great trails to the right here along the river and one runs along one side and returns the other side. Each side 2 kilometres long and cross the river via, yet another suspension bridge. This is a great trail if you have the time or energy and is also great to try on snowshoes.
Back on the Sea to Sky Trail you will be heading along the Cheakamus Lake Road towards the Sea to Sky Highway. Just before the highway you will see a Sea to Sky Trail sign direct you to the right and the Sea to Sky Trail joins with Whistler's Valley Trail. The Valley Trail system is Whistler is very nice. Wide, paved and with two lanes, the Valley Trail extends throughout Whistler passing through most of the beautiful parks and lakes and leading to Whistler Village.
Another great detour before heading up this trail is to see the amazing Whistler Train Wreck. It is located (if coming from Cheakamus Crossing) across the Sea to Sky Highway, turn left and hike/bike along the highway for about 200 metres and bear right off of the highway down the wide clearing toward the train tracks that you will see about 300 metres from the clearing. At the train tracks turn left and pass under the highway overpass and look for the trails to your left heading into the forest. For more info and directions to the Whistler Train Wreck click here.
The Sea to Sky Trail Cheakamus to Whistler Village
On the Sea to Sky Trail signs you will see Athletes Village indicated. Athletes Village was built to house athletes for the 2010 Olympic Games. Since then it is now become the beautiful neighbourhood called Cheakamus Crossing. Cheakamus Crossing is surrounded by some amazing sights in Whistler. The Sea to Sky Trail runs along the huge and crashing Cheakamus River. Across the river is the sight of Whistler's most unique and extraordinary places, the Whistler Train Wreck. This wonderful area of train wreckage has morphed into an amazing work of art and an amazing detour just off the Sea to Sky Trail.
The Cheakamus Lake trailhead is located up the Cheakamus Lake Road about 6.7k from the Sea to Sky Trail. Trails run on either side of the Cheakamus River. There is a beautiful suspension bridge 2k up the river towards Cheakamus Lake. A nice hiking/biking route is to go along one side of the river, cross the bridge and return from the other side. This is a nice 4k roundtrip detour from the Sea to Sky Trail.
The neighbourhood of Cheakamus Crossing is mainly residential, however, the huge HI Hostel has a nice Coffee Shop with a decent lunch menu. Across the Sea to Sky Highway you will find Whistler's industrial park called Function Junction. There are some local shops and one of Whistler's favourite breakfast and lunch restaurants, the Wildwood Cafe. Excellent prices and great food make this a worthwhile detour while in the area.
The Sea to Sky Trail crosses the beautiful Cheakamus River at Function Junction and continues north on the now paved section of the Sea to Sky Trail that is also the Whistler Valley Trail system. From Function Junction to Creekside (Whistler Creek) is 3.5 kilometres of easy, though ascending hills. The trail runs through the neighbourhood of Spring Creek before descending to cross the Sea to Sky Highway at the lights at Bayshore Drive. Astonishingly, this is the only significant, traffic related stop along the entire 33k route (the next Sea to Sky Highway crossing is via a Sea to Sky/Valley Trail underpass that connects the trail, uninterrupted to Whistler Village).
After crossing the Sea to Sky Highway the Sea to Sky/Valley Trail takes you past Alpha Lake and the beautiful Alpha Lake Park. Then the trail winds its way past the Whistler Train Station in Creekside and along Nita Lake through Eva Lake Park and Lakeside Park on the popular, scenic and historical Alta Lake. After Lakeside Park the trail veers off through the neighbourhood of Alta Vista, leading to the Whistler Golf Course which then leads to the underpass to Whistler Village.
The Sea to Sky mapboard just before the underpass is good to look at as you will be at the junction of the Valley Trail going in three different directions. If you have time to hike/bike around the Whistler Golf Course from here it is just a 5k route that has many nice views of the local mountains. The clear signs on the trail also direct you to Rainbow Park, which is a beautiful, lakeside park on the other side of Alta Lake with very nice views across to Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.
Once you enter Whistler Village you will find yourself in the midst of a terrific array of restaurants, shops, pubs and clubs. Fortunately, just like on the Sea to Sky Trail you will find frequent signs and mapboards directing you. To continue on the Sea to Sky Trail you have to make your way through the Village and to Lost Lake Park. From Lost Lake Park you can go around the lake on either side as the Sea to Sky Trail extends from just past the lake to rise quickly into the beautiful new section of trail above Green Lake.
The Sea to Sky Trail Whistler Village North to WedgeWoods
Once the Sea to Sky Trail reaches Whistler Village the route to follow becomes a little confused. You have to pass through the heart of Whistler's wonderful Village. If you are on your bike you have to walk it as it is pedestrian only. If you don't want to walk you can easily plot a bike friendly route through the edge of the Village.
If you would rather walk through all the action of the Village the most direct route takes you through Village Square and the heart of the Village.
The Sea to Sky Trail continues out the far side of the Village, first past Lost Lake, via Lost Lake Park. As you continue past Lost Lake you will see a small Sea to Sky Trail sign pointing to the right and then immediately left to follow the Siwash Trail. The trail from here quickly ascends as you near the beautiful Green Lake Lookout just a few metres off of the Sea to Sky Trail.
Back on the Sea to Sky Trail the wide gravel and somewhat steep switchbacks begin. Only a few zig-zags and you find yourself already quite high above Green Lake. This section of the trail is remarkably windy which makes it quite fun as your view constantly changes.
You quickly realize how difficult it must have been to construct this part of the trail as you find yourself along cliffs looking down on Green Lake and across to the now distant Whistler Mountain.
Shortly after the summit of the trail, near the 6k shown on the map above you pass two faint trails on your left heading towards Green Lake. These are the start and finish of a ring trail that takes you through Parkhurst. A thriving logging town decades ago, now a ghost town that is well worth seeing as it is located on the shores of Green Lake with some stunning views of Whistler.
Back on the main trail it begins to descend towards the Green River at the Sea to Sky Highway turnoff to Wedgemount Lake. This is a great place to park if hiking/biking the trail as the next .8k of the trail is incomplete and not yet very interesting.
The trail from the Wedgemount Lake access area to the Sea to Sky Trail ascends up to the new Whistler neighbourhood of WedgeWood Estates where it leads to the Sea to Sky Highway. This route is not completed or equipped with signs yet as the neighbourhood is hardly built.
This short (.8k) section can be found by just going up the gravel road towards the final Wedgemount Lake turnoff. Turn left before this turnoff and follow the gravel road through the construction zone that is WedgeWood Estates. This just leads to the Sea to Sky Highway and at the moment is not really worth doing.
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.