Water, Wind and Graffiti: All About the Whistler Train Wreck

Whistler Mountian

When you’re not up on the internationally celebrated Whistler slopes, there’s plenty to do in the vicinity of the resort complex. Whether it’s the depths of winter or the height of summer, one of the very best outdoor outings in the area–and one of the most unique anywhere in the world–is the trek out to the Whistler Train Wreck.

Perhaps you assume that’s a metaphorical epithet. Actually, no: Hidden in the woods along the Cheakamus River south of Whistler are seven ruined boxcars, the legacy of a 1950s train derailment. Given the steep cleanup cost, authorities decided to let the wreck lie–thereby creating an utterly one-of-a-kind, hidden-away landmark that makes for an excellent hiking or snowshoeing destination.

Aerial View Bike ParkThe main route for reaching the Train Wreck begins within easy reach of the Sea to Sky Highway at the Flank Trail trailhead, which you’ll find behind Olive’s Market in Function Junction. On the 3-kilometer hike (or snowshoe) out to the boxcars, you’ll enjoy sublime views of the raging Cheakamus as it tumbles through its heavily forested canyon. Before long you’ll spot the first cars of the wreck–always a surprise, even when you’re expecting them! The folks at Whistler Hiatus have prepared a detailed trail guide for the Whistler Train Wreck–worth a read to make sure you know where you’re going.

The trail’s well maintained and mostly level throughout its length, making it the perfect kid-friendly adventure. There’s only one train-track crossing to contend with.

The boxcars composing the Whistler Train Wreck, strung out along the riverside woods, have been richly decorated by some mighty talented graffiti artists. They’re truly works of art, half-reclaimed by the Coast Mountains forest and otherwise adopted by a community of outdoors people and painters. These bizarrely beautiful ruins appeal to all ages, whether you’re just stopping for lunch in the shadow of one of the banged-up cars or you’re doing an easy family backpacking overnight-er among them.

Whistler bike parkIn 2015, the Whistler Train Wreck hike will get a major upgrade: a suspension bridge is being installed over the Cheakamus River at the site, thereby linking it to the Trash Trail–a popular mountain-biking route–on the opposite side. This new connection offers the opportunity to extend your adventure and soak up more of the grand scenery in the Cheakamus gorge.

From droopy-boughed western red cedars and inquisitive gray jays to the chance of glimpsing a black bear, the ecological attractions of the Cheakamus provide the perfect counterpoint to the delightfully quirky novelty of the Whistler Train Wreck. Consider the trail out to the site an opportunity to introduce your kids to the wonders of the B.C. woods–with the promise of a wacky payoff at the end!

The Whistler Train Wreck is just one of many hiking destinations within a stone’s throw of the resort. Even though Whistler’s one of the most famous skiing and snowboarding meccas on the planet, the recreational opportunities available along its extensive network of hinterland trails are sometimes overlooked. Visit a resource such as WhistlerPremier.com to lock down your resort lodging, then start planning some hiking or snowshoeing adventures!

And chief among your destinations should be the Whistler Train Wreck. It’s a low-profile Canadian monument that everybody should see in person at least once–and, better yet, keep coming back to in order to revel in the all of the seasonal glories of the Cheakamus River. We’ll see you at the boxcars!

Martha Smith is an avid traveler and hiker. When she isn’t on the road or mountain path, she’s writing about it on the web. You can find her articles mainly on travel, vacation and sporting websites and blogs.


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