Explore the forest and discover 7 wagons covered in graffitis on the Whistler Train Wreck hike. Somewhere in the Cheakamus neighborhood’s magical forest, a train derailed many years ago. The trees have grown to great heights and the wagons got covered in graffitis by local artists. The Train Wreck is now part of Whistler’s historical and cultural identity and it’s yours to discover.
Come to the forest for here is rest – John Muir
This is by far the most colorful and unique hike in the Whistler area. You would never imagine coming across this art scene in the middle of Whistler’s interpretive forest.
How to get there
The Train Wreck hike is located in the same neighborhood as the Cheakamus Lake hike just 10km from Whistler Village. If you start driving south from the village on Highway 99, you will get to the lights at Function Junction, turn left into the Cheakamus neighborhood. After you go over a small bridge, take the next right on Janes Lake Road and drive slowly until you see a very small parking lot on your left. Have a look a the map below to see how far you have to drive.
The Train Wreck trail
From the parking lot, cross the street and start walking on the Sea to Sky Trail (in yellow) until you reach the junction to Trash Trail (in red) then turn right. There will be signs leading to the Train Wreck. The trail is accessible year-round but use extra caution between December and March as it might be covered in snow. From the parking lot, this short hike will take you about 45 minutes one way.
As soon as you start walking on the trail, it won’t be long until you get immersed into a deep cedar forest. With the river roaring in the background, you will soon feel like you are entering nature’s very own spa.
The Whistler Train Wreck trail is also accessible through the mountain bike trail called “Trash Trail”. You can easily find it on the map above in red. Although the trail name can be confusing for some, there are no garbage bins during this hike so make sure to bring back your trash with you.
This trail is also a good hike to do on rainy days as the trees cover most of the path. There are plenty of rainy day activities to do in Whistler and this is just one of them.
If you are thinking of visiting the Whistler Train Wreck in the winter, snowshoes or crampons are highly recommended as the trail often gets icy, especially along the glacier river and on the suspension bridge. If you are not sure of the trail conditions, do your research and know before you go!
The new suspension bridge
As you adventure down the trail, you will get closer and closer to the river and you will start seeing the suspension bridge through the trees. Although the majority of the trail to the Train Wreck site is easy, there is a short steep downhill near the suspension bridge but don’t worry, it’s easy enough for all ages.
Suspended in a forest of metal and art.
The beautiful wooden suspension bridge was built in the summer of 2016 to offer safer access to the site. Needless to say that this lovely bridge adds to the experience!
Once you cross the suspension bridge, it’s only a short walking distance before you start seeing the first colorful wagon right on the edge of the river. It’s really impressive to see it hanging there between the river and the trees!
Each wagon is covered in different graffitis and it makes for quite the magical forest walk. From this place, you are right in the middle of the train wreck site, with box cars on each side of you.
You might also notice wooden ramps that were built off of the mangled wagons, they are for the crazy mountain bikers out there!
If you have extra time, walk further into the forest towards the south side of the river. The first 5 wagons are usually the easiest to find but there are a total of 7 wagons! Can you find the two other ones?
How did the wagons get there?
These train wagons nestled in the trees have been there for over 60 years. Can you believe it? Do you ever wonder how they got there in the first place?
According to research done by the Whistler Museum, the freight train was coming from Lillooet, just north of Pemberton and it drove through a portion of the track that was under repairs. The train was going a little too fast, something like double the speed limit for the area and it derailed into the forest. The train wagons ended up in a “canyon-like section” between the train tracks and the river. The wagons were removed from the canyon and according to an old Whistler Question article;
once pried loose the damaged cars were dragged up the tracks and rolled over into the forest where they remain today.
And that solves the mystery of how the train wreck got there a long long time ago!