If you’re after a slightly spooky but very easy hike in British Columbia, Train Wreck near Whistler is for you. After exploring the abandoned ghost town of Parkhurst, our next stop was to the iconic Train Wreck site. This also happens to be on the way back to Vancouver from Whistler. We took a quick pitstop at Green Lake to admire the amazing views across to the snowy mountains. And no, I wouldn’t be taking a dip that day!
Green Lake, Whistler
Crossing Cheakamus River
You begin the hike by taking a descent through the forest down towards Cheakamus River. It’s a part of the Sea to Sky Trail near Whistler and is a very simple hike that’s quick to finish. You then cross a mini suspension bridge to reach the famous Whistler train wreck.
The suspension bridge is a fairly recent addition as many visitors began crossing the active train tracks illegally. Nowadays, it’s much easier to make the journey to this incredible attraction. After crossing the bridge, you then come across the incredibly colourful box cars of the abandoned train.
The Whistler tourist board provides a handy map of the hiking trail to Train Wreck.
What is Train Wreck, Whistler?
Often described as Whistler’s hidden secret, you’ll soon come across the colourfully painted box cars almost strategically dumped in the forest. They’re a striking juxtaposition of old vs new. They’re also the sad result of a train crash which now has a colourful makeover with paint, art, and graffiti.
There’s a total of seven CN Rail boxcars which have become modernized with mountain bike trails. They’re now also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Whistler.
What’s the history of Train Wreck?
The boxcars have sat in the forest since 1956, the result of a train crash – some details of which have only recently come to light. The train was making its way from Lillooet, British Columbia and was carrying timber. Unfortunately, it was unable to make the climb to Parkhurst. Subsequently, they split it into two separate trains, each with an engine.
As a result, the train became late, and the conductor decided to dismiss an area of construction on the tracks, speeding through. Because it was an overloaded train, it derailed onto a rockface and the boxcars were scattered. The train wreck caused confusion for many as the boxcars currently lie far from the tracks and there’s no evident path to show how they were moved. No newspaper was around at the time to document the event either.
Now, it appears that despite attempts by Pacific Great Eastern Railway to move the boxcars, they became stuck. Eventually, a logging company used equipment to unstick the cars which were dragged out of the rocky area. Seven out of twelve boxcars were in such bad condition, they were moved by crane into the forest area and remain to this day.
Who knows how long they will remain – one of the carriages is balanced on the cliff face looking down into the Cheakamus River.
You can work your way around, spotting each of the colourful carriages. Make sure to find all seven. Many people miss two of the boxcars which are tucked away in the forest.
It’s an easy hike that’s definitely worth checking out. We drove back through the sunset to Vancouver along the remarkable Sea to Sky Highway.
Have you been to see Train Wreck, Whistler? Which other cool attractions near Whistler would you recommend?