The Whistler Train Wreck Hike – Everything You Need to Know

Shrouded in mystery, the Whistler Train Wreck hike is one of Whistler’s most unique attractions. The Whistler Train Wreck is a collection of de-railed box cars that sit surrounded by mossy forest. Over the years the Whistler Train Wreck has been a haven for graffiti artists, mountain bikers and hikers. The contrast of nature and graffiti make the Train Wreck Whistler’s best public art gallery. The graffiti here is constantly changing as new art covers the old. 

The low elevation and maintained trail make this hike one of the best for families. It’s popular among tourists of all ages and has become one of Whistler’s top activities. Learn all you need to know about visiting Whistler’s iconic Train Wreck below.  

The suspension bridge to Whistler Train Wreck opened in 2016 allowing visitors a safer way to access the wreck.
The new suspension bridge opened in 2016.
Suspension Bridge leading to the Whistler Train Wreck.
Suspension Bridge leading to the Whistler Train Wreck.

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Best Time To Visit The Whistler Train Wreck

The thing I love about the Whistler Train Wreck is that it can be visited year-round. The trail to Whistler Train Wreck is accessible whether rain, shine or snow! It’s also one of the top Whistler snow-shoeing trails in Winter. 

While summer is generally the best time for hiking, I personally like visiting the Train Wreck in Fall and Spring. The shoulder seasons are less-busy and there’s no snow on the trail in these seasons. Not only this, but the Cheakamus River rises and is fun to sit and watch from the suspension bridge.  

One of the derailed box cars sitting amongst nature and towering trees at the Train Wreck in Whistler.
A beautiful contrast of nature and graffiti. The Train Wreck is an outdoor art gallery.

History of Whistler Train Wreck

The Train wreck is a colourful and cultural part of Whistler’s history. You may be wondering how these boxcars arrived at their current destination? It started in 1956 when a freight train from Lillooet sped through a section of track that was under repair causing the boxcars to derail. A local logging company owned by the Valleau family were brought in to relocate the boxcars to their current location deep in the forest.

One of the de-railed box-cars at the Whistler Train Wreck trail.
One of the colourful de-railed box cars at the Whistler Train Wreck.

How To Get To The Whistler Train Wreck

The Whistler Train Wreck is located in the Cheakamus neighbourhood of Whistler. It is one of the most accessible hikes in Whistler as you can get there by public transit. Both the 20 and 10 busses will get you here.

There is ample parking at the Train Wreck trailhead. Parking is free and located on Jane Lakes Road. The trailhead can be easily found from the parking lot with easy signage. The trail itself is very obvious and wide and it’s hard to get lost on the trail.

My first time I ever went to the Train Wreck was in late 2016 and I took the old trail which required crossing Train Tracks – it was the most confusing route I’ve ever taken. Thankfully crossing the train tracks is no longer necessary! 

With the addition of the suspension bridge added in 2016, access to the Whistler Train Wreck is now more accessible. This new route allows visitors a safer alternate way to get access the box cars.  

The trail leads you through an enchanting forest of majestic cedar and fir trees. As you venture deeper into the forest you’ll start to hearing the roaring thunder of the Cheakamus River, this is a sign that are getting closer. Eventually you’ll reach the suspension bridge.

This suspension bridge crosses the mighty Cheakamus River and offers outstanding views of the surrounding mossy forest. It’s one of the prettiest suspension bridges near Vancouver. 

The Train Wreck suspension bridge in Whistler, British Columbia.
The Train Wreck suspension bridge is a great photo op location.

Train Wreck Falls / Balls Falls

The Cheakamus River is popular among kayakers and they can often be seen at “Balls Falls” sometimes referred to as “Train Wreck Falls”. This is one of the lesser-visited waterfalls in Whistler and as it is tucked away, many people do not know it is there.

If want to venture further after a visit to the Train Wreck, the falls is around a 10-15 minute walk through the forest via the Trash Trail. I would recommend having GPS for this trail as there are many trails in the area that venture in different directions. There is a network of mountain biking trails in the area so be aware for bikers. 

The suspension bridge crossing the Cheakamus River.
Train Wreck Suspension Bridge.
Views of the Cheakamus River from the Train Wreck Hike in Whistler.
The blue hues of the Cheakamus River.
Train Wreck Falls or Balls Falls neat the Whistler Train Wreck.
Train Wreck falls in late spring.

Be Bear Aware

While the odds of running into a bear in Whistler are rare, it’s not impossible. Whistler is bear country so it’s important to be bear aware, even on the most popular trails.

  • Dispose of any garbage properly, and if the trash cans are full, keep your garbage until you find somewhere to dispose of it properly.
  • Always keep your distance if you see a bear, and talking aloud on trails is a good way to let bears know that you are there. 
  • Keep dogs on a leash. While the Train Wreck trail is dog friendly, dogs must be kept on a leash at all time.
  • Bring bear spray. I’ve never had to use bear spray on any trail, but I did encounter a sow with cubs just past the trail to Train Wreck this summer and had no bear spray! It’s better to always be prepared.

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Explore Whistler's Train Wreck trail - everything you need to know.
Explore the incredible Whistler Train Wreck hike.
Hiking the Whistler Train Wreck Trail.

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