In 1956, a speeding train loaded with timber derailed near the Cheakamus River in a section of the track that was under repair just south of the community of Alta Lake (which is now known as Whistler). Several of the wrecked train cars that stood blocking the tracks were dragged into the woods and left to rust, and over the decades since then the giant mangled hunks of steel have been repurposed by local artists and mountain bikers, and they are now the centerpiece of a rather unique hiking and biking trail.
Parking for the Train Wreck Trail is available behind the Olives Market grocery store on Alpha Lake Road in Function Junction, and the trailhead is right beside the bus stop. The trail begins following alongside Millar Creek, piggybacking on the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail for 600 meters before splitting off to the left just after the trail emerges from the forest. Soon after, the Train Wreck Trail passes underneath the highway and follows alongside the Cheakamus River. After 1.7 kilometers there is a side trail leading to a viewpoint beside the waterfall unofficially known by kayakers as Balls Falls, which is also visible from the bike trail called Trash on the far side of the river.
The trail continues along between the river and the railway tracks for another half kilometer before arriving at the train wreck site. This train wreck is not the grand spectacle of destruction that you may have been imagining; the placement of the train cars and the lack of evidence of damage to surrounding trees make it seem as though the bent up cars just fell out of the sky rather than crashed off the tracks. The reason for this is that the actual derailment happened some distance down the track, and the cars were dragged here using logging equipment after the fact. Also, the forest has had 60 years to recuperate. The mangled metal boxes are virtually covered in art, so they now represent much more than just the wreckage of a terrible accident. This juxtaposition of industrial trash converted to art in a beautiful coastal rainforest makes for a surreal setting to say the least. There is some high quality artwork from local hero Chili Thom and graffiti artist Kris Kupskay, and the mountain bike features are downright scary, albeit somewhat dilapidated at the moment.
The mostly flat and relatively easy 3 kilometer trail takes only 30 minutes to an hour each way, but plan for some extra time to hang out, explore, and appreciate how the resourceful people of Whistler were able to turn a disaster into an amazing spectacle where natural beauty and human creativity collide.