The mysterious Whistler Train Wreck
Tucked away in an old-growth forest, hidden between train tracks and the Cheakamus River, the Whistler Train Wreck site has quietly become a popular Whistler tourist attraction.
The Train Wreck is home to several decaying box cars that were abandoned after a crash that occurred in 1956. Train derailments were not uncommon back in the 1950’s, however little was known about this particular crash until recent years.
Now, covered with layers of bright graffiti, these rusty old box cars have transformed into a unique outdoor art gallery. The mangled box cars are scattered through the crash site, with one clinging to the edge of the Cheakamus River and others wedged between giant old growth trees.
This unusual Train Wreck site has a party-in-the-woods vibe about it. It’s evident that this secret location is an overnight hang out spot for locals seeking a secluded place to howl at the moon.
Below are a few photos of the Whistler Train Wreck. Scroll to the very bottom to watch video footage of the crash site.
Our boys had a great time exploring the crash site. Abandoned trains + forest = happy boys!
Graffiti is constantly changing as local artists repaint over the old.
These box cars are still connected (above). The car to the left hangs over the river valley.
This box car is perched on the edge of the valley above the Cheakamus River.
To the right, a steep drop off above the river. The below photo was captured inside this box car.
Inside the abandoned box car that sits on the river’s edge. The white glow in the bottom right of the photo is actually the sun reflecting off the river.
While the box cars are relatively safe, you don’t want to walk to the edge of this one. One slip and your going for a swim in the frigid river below.
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The juxtaposition of metal box cars and old growth forest.
It’s an unusual place that has a spooky Blair Witch Project vibe about it.
Can you imagine wandering around this place at night under a full moon?
You can climb on the roof of the box cars via the ladders on the back. Keep in mind, these old rusty cars have been decaying in the forest for over 50 years, so it’s best to play it safe.
The crash site appears to have once been a hot spot for mountain bikers. If you look at the above photo, there’s a wooden bridge on top of the box car that drops off to the ramp that Braydon is standing on.
Here’s an old video of the Whistler Train Wreck mountain bike trails and bridges. It appears many of these man made obstacles at the crash site are no longer in use, however there are still hiking and biking trails surrounding the Train Wreck site.
Learn more about the history of the Whistler Train Wreck in this article, written by an executive director of the Whistler Museum.
The Whistler Train Wreck Hike
Access to the train wreck site has never been easier. The best time of year to do the Whistler Train Wreck hike is between May and November. You can access the site year round, however the area does see a lot of snow in the winter. Snowshoes are recommended during the months of December to March.
The trail is well marked and mostly flat – the total elevation gain is only 30 meters. It takes about 45 minutes to get from the trailhead to the train wreck, assuming a moderate to slow pace (we kept pace with our 5 year old boy). The trail is suitable for all ages and abilities.
Give yourself at least two hours for this hike, including time to explore the crash site.
The trail is a part of the much longer Sea to Sky Trail that connects Squamish to Whistler. You can also reach the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park from the Train Wreck Hike parking lot. It’s an additional 12.5 km hike to Brandy Wine Falls.
More info about the Whistler Train Wreck hike here.
Caution – wild bears in the area. The old box cars are an ideal shelter for wildlife. Enter each box car slowly, just in case there may be wild animals sleeping inside.
The trails are flat and wide. We reckon you could bring a sturdy baby stroller on this trail.
This boardwalk connects the suspension bridge to the train wreck site.
Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge
To access the Whistler Train Wreck site you will cross the newly built Cheakamus River Suspension Bridge, also known as the Train Wreck Bridge.
Prior to this bridge being built, access to the Train Wreck was along the train tracks, which is dangerous and illegal. Because the crash site has gained popularity in recent years, the suspension bridge was built to connect the Sea to Sky Trail with the Train Wreck site.
The new pedestrian bridge creates a safe, legal access point to the Train Wreck.
Train Wreck and Suspension Bridge map here.
Sun beams while crossing the suspension bridge to the train wreck.
How to get to the Whistler Train Wreck
To reach the Train Wreck hike, drive on Highway 99 until you reach Function Junction. Turn south on Cheakamus Lakes Road. You will pass the Whistler Interpretive Forest parking lot. Keep driving south to Legacy Way. You will cross a bridge.
Continue driving on Legacy Way, for about 200 meters, until you see Jane Lakes Road. Turn right on Jane Lakes Road and drive another 500 meters until you see a small parking lot on your left. There are signs for the Train Wreck site but they are small.
If you pass through a residential community you’ve gone too far down Legacy Way. Turn around and make a left on Jane Lakes Road. This neighbourhood is the Whistler Athletes Village, a legacy from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Whistler Train Wreck Parking
The parking lot for the Train Wreck hike is located on Jane Lakes Road. Parking is free.
See map above for directions or click here.
Whistler Train Wreck map here.
Another way to reach the Train Wreck hiking trail is via the Whistler Valley Trail, which is a car-free, paved trail that connects Whistler’s neighbourhoods, lakes, viewpoints and trails. This trail covers over 40 km of terrain.
Here’s the Whistler Valley Trail map.
Where to Stay in Whistler:
- We’ve stayed at several Whistler hotels over the years, but we stay at the Embarc Whistler most often. It’s a family oriented resort located in Whistler Upper Village, across the street from the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
- For accommodations in the heart of Whistler Village, check out the Pan Pacific Whistler Village, Crystal Lodge and Suites or The Westin Resort.
- Check out Nita Lake Lodge for lake side accomodations (read our review here).
- For an upscale experience, stay at the iconic Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Sundial Boutique Hotel or Four Seasons Resort Whistler.
Whistler Restaurants – Where to eat:
- For casual brewpub experience, check out Merlin’s Bar & Grill (Upper Village), Amsterdam Pub, Dubh Linn Gate Irish
Pub and Whistler Brewhouse
- Popular summer patios in Whistler Village are Garibaldi Lift Co and Longhorn Saloon & Grill
- For brunch, check out Stonesedge Kitchen, Elements and Brickworks
- For something a little different, check out Sushi Village and Mongolie Grill
- Search for more Whistler restaurants here.
Have you visited the Whistler Train Wreck?
Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below. Our readers find your feedback and experiences helpful.
Having trouble viewing the video? Watch directly on YouTube here.