The Sea to Sky Trail - Whistler
The Sea to Sky Trail is a 180 kilometre multi-use trail that runs from Squamish to D'Arcy. The trail is still under construction in many parts, however, the amazing route through Whistler is finally in place. 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 33k Whistler section of the Sea to Sky Trail is either paved, dirt or crushed rock and often very wide. Much of the trail just north and south of Whistler Village is wide, two lanes and paved with plenty of signs and occasional mapboards.
North of Whistler Village the trail can be challenging with several hills as it rises above and beyond . South of Whistler, the paved trail ends at Cheakamus Crossing and becomes a narrow at times dirt trail with some wider sections of crushed rock. This beautiful section follows the Cheakamus River making four dramatically beautiful river crossings. Ghost Town
The Cal-Cheak area south of Cheakamus Crossing is more challenging and sometimes narrow and hilly, dirt trails. South of Cal-Cheak the forest opens up and the trail widens to the luxurious feeling, wide and hard packed gravel all the way to Brandywine Falls where the trail joins with the Sea to Sky Highway.
The Whistler section of the Sea to Sky trail passes near and through an amazing array of whistler sights. The always impressive Brandywine Provincial Park at the southern end of the 33 kilometre area shown here.
Heading north from Brandywine Falls you cross the huge bungee jumping bridge that spans the enormous chasm over the Cheakamus River. Soon after you cross the suspension Bridge at the Cal-Cheak Recreation area.
At Cheakamus Crossing there are some amazing viewpoints of Cheakamus River and a short detour takes you to the amazing Whistler Train Wreck.
Back on the Sea to Sky Trail heading towards Whistler Village you pass by three of Whistler's beautiful Lakes each with nice parks. Alpha Lake Park, Nita Lake Park and then on Alta Lake you pass Wayside Park and Lakeside Park.
The trail then runs through Whistler Village and enters the wonderfully sprawling Lost Lake Park network of trails. As you pass by Lost Lake, the Lost Lake Trail leads you to the Sea to Sky Trail.
This section of the Sea to Sky Trail quickly ascends up to the ridge along Green Lake and takes you north to WedgeWood Estates at the northern end of this marvellous 33k, Whistler stretch of the Sea to Sky Trail.
Sea to Sky Trail - Brandywine Falls to Cheakamus
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, Calcheak 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.
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 and ascends past a few scenic viewpoints until reaching the incredible 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.
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.
Sea to Sky Trail - Cheakamus to Whistler Village
Athletes Village is now 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.
A new bridge is being constructed along the Sea to Sky Trail to link "Trash Trail" to Whistler Train Wreck. The new bridge should(hopefully) be built in 2015. In the meantime access to Train Wreck from the Sea to Sky Trail requires a detour through Function Junction. Function Junction is the neighbourhood on the opposite side of the highway to Cheakamus Crossing.
The Sea to Sky Trail crosses the Cheakamus River as you leave Cheakamus Crossing and veer toward the Sea to Sky Highway. Just before reaching the highway, the Sea to Sky Trail bends right and ascends up parallel to the highway towards Whistler Village.
To get to the trailhead for Whistler Train Wreck, drive 7.6k south of Whistler Village. At the traffic lights at Function Junction turn left onto Cheakamus Lake Rd, then immediately left again in the the huge parking lot for the Cheakamus Community Forest(aka Interpretive Forest). Park here then walk or bike to the Flank Trail trailhead that almost immediately branches off to the Train Wreck Trail(see the maps here). The mostly unmarked Train Wreck trail is tricky to find and follow.
About 40 metres from the tiny Flank Trail sign off of Alpha Lake Rd you will spot the large, old sign indicating Flank Trail to the right and another, unmarked trail heading left. Walk a down this unmarked trail with the creek still on your left and you will pass some ancient, but weirdly idyllic picnic tables. Further along you will come out to a clearing and see two painted boulders on your left on either side of a trail. If you miss this trail you will come to the water tunnel under the highway.
Back on the Sea to Sky Trail where you came from in Cheakamus Crossing, Whistler Creekside(Whistler Creek) is 3.5 kilometres of constant hills. The trail runs through the neighbourhood of Spring Creek before descending back down 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.
Sea to Sky Trail - Lost Lake to Green River
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. Lost Lake is a tranquil and secluded lake that hides in the forest extending from Whistler Village. Just a 20 minute, leisurely walk or 5 minute bike ride along the well signed Valley Trail will lead you to this beautiful little lake. The wide and paved Valley Trail turns into a wide and gravel trail as you enter Lost Lake Park. The main trail around the lake is a popular running route from Whistler Village as roundtrip from the Village, around Lost Lake and back to the Village is just 6 kilometres. There are plenty of nice viewpoints along the main trail as well as quite a few short trails that lead to several access points to the lake, some with great places to sit and relax in the sun and take in the view.
Lost Lake has a very popular beach at one end and in the height of summer can get busy as it is the most convenient beach from Whistler Village. There are several swimming platforms out in the lake as well as a wonderful and huge pier along the right hand side of the lake. An amazing place to catch the sunsets over Whistler Mountain. In the winter months when there is snow in Whistler, Lost Lake becomes a cross country and snowshoeing area and there is a charge to access the main trails around the lake. Usually from mid December to early April.
As you continue past Lost Lake you will see a small Sea to Sky Trail sign pointing to the right and directing you up into the beautiful trail above Green Lake that leads you up past Green Lake and comes out near the turnoff to Wedgemount Lake. This section of the Sea to Sky Trail above Green Lake is wide, gravel and somewhat steep. Lots of steep switchbacks get you ascending quickly above Green Lake. This section of the trail is remarkably windy which makes it quite fun as your view constantly changes.
This highlight of this stretch of the trail, apart from the beautiful views of Green Lake, is Parkhurst Ghost Town. Shortly after you begin your steep descent on the far side of Green Lake you will see an unmarked trail on your left. This leads you to this amazing relic of pre-Whistler history. Parkhurst was a small logging town several decades ago that was abandoned. Despite the harsh winters with crushing snow, one resilient house still stands. It has been adorned with an amazing and haunting mural of a blue face. Elsewhere in the area you find strange artifacts. An abandoned 1950's Corvette. An ancient truck. And down on the shore of Green Lake an extraordinary and enormous log mover(tractor) is perched on the shore as if waiting for the next batch of logs to move.
Back on the Sea to Sky Trail a few more descending switchbacks lead you to a logging road which leads you down to the Green River crossing to the Sea to Sky Highway. This is where you often have to park in the winter to access the Sea to Sky Trail and Parkhurst as this logging road is buried in snow. The Sea to Sky Trail is still under sporatic construction in this area. You may spot a sign here that shows the trail continueing to the new Whistler neighbourhood of WedgeWood Estates.
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.