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, on the Sea to Sky Highway Brandywine Provincial Park is certainly a must-see stop 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.
Sea to Sky Trail - Cheakamus Crossing 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.
If you want to see the Whistler Train Wreck, continue across the highway and after about 400 metres you will see a small Flank Trail sign on your left and a gap in the trees that leads to a huge sign for the Flank Trail. The Flank Trail goes right and an unnamed trail goes straight along a small stream. This is the Train Wreck Trail. Follow this for a couple hundred metres out to a clearing and look for a trail between two cement blocks. This leads to the edge of the Sea to Sky Highway. Turn left to follow the trail under the highway where the river flows through. From here the trail is straight forward.
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.