Cheakamus River & Whistler Interpretive Forest
Cheakamus River is the beautiful, crashing and turquoise coloured river that flows from Cheakamus Lake, through the Cheakamus Valley to Daisy Lake. Also a popular kayaking route, the main attraction to Cheakamus River is the wonderful and quite extensive network of hiking and biking trails that run along either side of it.
Several trails run throughout the forest around the enormous 70 kilometre length of Cheakamus River. including the Cheakamus Lake trail, the Whistler Train Wreck trail and the Sea to Sky Trail. For the most part, however, if you are talking about the Cheakamus River trails you are likely talking about the Farside and Riverside trails in Whistler's Interpretive Forest.
Eight kilometres south of Whistler Village and surrounding the recently constructed neighbourhood of Cheakamus Crossing is Whistler Interpretive Forest. This beautiful forest surrounds the Cheakamus River and has been cut and replanted in several areas in the past decades. Hiking and biking trails have sprung up over the years making the area a wonderful place to explore.
The main highlights of the Interpretive Forest are the beautiful Cheakamus River and the extraordinary Logger's Lake. Logger's Lake, just a short hike from the Cheakamus River suspension bridge, sits within a 10000 year old, extinct volcano and is a hiking destination on its own. Logger's Lake is a beautiful, hidden hidden paradise for swimming.
There are several excellent vantage points to see the river and the amazing Cheakamus River suspension bridge is one of the best. Located at one end of the Farside and Riverside trails(see the map below), there is even a parking area nearby. This is also the parking area for Logger's Lake, making it a beautiful starting point to hike both area in an afternoon.
There are several excellent places to park to begin hiking or biking around the Cheakamus River. You can park at various places within sight of the river on either side of it just steps from a hiking trail. The Whistler Interpretive Forest trailhead parking just off the Sea to Sky Highway is large, easy to find and adjacent to the Sea to Sky Trail. This is an ideal place to park if you are biking the trails.
If you are hiking, however, you might want to drive a couple hundred metres past and then turn left onto Cheakamus Lake Road. This gravel road almost immediately forks. Continuing strait takes you along the left side of Cheakamus River and taking the right fork follows the opposite side. There are excellent road and trail signs at this junction and the ones further along.
If you are after a very scenic 4 kilometre(1 hour) hike through the beautiful forest along the river to the Cheakamus River suspension bridge, then back along the other side of the river, parking near this junction is possibly the best place to do it. You can simply park at the edge of the gravel road near one of many trails you will see at this junction or better yet, take the right fork, cross the vehicle bridge and park at the large parking area you will immediately see.
You can drive further along this gravel road and find another parking area just steps from the Riverside Trail and within earshot of the crashing Cheakamus River. Another kilometre past this parking area and you will see yet another large parking area on your left. This parking area is generally used for people hiking the short trail up to Logger's Lake, however it is also a great place to park for the Cheakamus River as it is just a 5 minute hike along the river to the wonderful Cheakamus River suspension bridge.
More Trails Near Cheakamus River
Logger's Lake is an amazing little lake hidden up in the deep forest above Cheakamus River. The lake, almost unbelievably exists in a long extinct volcano. However, as soon as you see the lake up close, you quickly come to believe it. The lake sits in an almost cartoonish looking, volcano-shaped bowl, with one side of the bowl a crumbling array of truck sized boulders leading down to the lake. The crater that Logger's Lake sits in was a volcano that pushed through the glacial ice in this valley about 10000 years ago. As the lava cooled it formed the wonderful basalt ridge that is crumbling into valley. As Logger's Lake sits deep in this ancient volcano's vent, it is sheltered from the wind and soaks up the suns rays into the dark boulders all around. As a result makes it the warmest lake for swimming in Whistler. Decades ago a train derailed south of Whistler. The cost to clean up the mess was evidently deemed too high, so seven train cars were left scattered next to the Cheakamus River. As it turns out, time and local effort has transformed this mess into a wonderful work of art, an extraordinary bike park, and a great place to hike. The Whistler Train Wreck. The whole length of the train wreck and Cheakamus River hike is 3 kilometres (each way) and the trails go along the beautiful river as well as several, widely spaced train wrecks. Cheakamus Lake is a wonderfully relaxing way to get in the wilderness easily and quickly from . The trail begins on the far side of Whistler Mountain, 8 kilometres from the Sea to Sky Highway at Cheakamus Crossing across from Function Junction.
This 8 kilometre stretch of logging road is fairly bumpy and potholed, but does have the benefit of allowing you to drive the elevation gain instead of hiking it. The 7 kilometre hiking trail to the lake is has very little elevation gain as the trail winds through the beautiful forest. The Sea to Sky Trail is a 180 kilometre multi-use trail that runs from Squamish to D'Arcy. The trail is still under construction in many parts, however, the amazing route through Whistler is finally in place. The Whistler section of the Sea to Sky Trail is 33 kilometres long between Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and WedgeWoods Estates just north of Green Lake (north of Whistler Village). The 33k Whistler section of the Sea to Sky Trail is either paved, dirt or crushed rock and often very wide. Much of the trail just north and south of Whistler Village is wide, two lanes and paved with plenty of signs and occasional mapboards. North of Whistler Village the trail can be challenging with several hills as it rises above and beyond . South of Whistler, the paved trail ends at Cheakamus Crossing and becomes a narrow at times dirt trail with some wider sections of crushed rock. This beautiful section follows the Cheakamus River making four dramatically beautiful river crossings. The Cal-Cheak area south of Cheakamus Crossing is more challenging and sometimes narrow and hilly, dirt trails. South of Cal-Cheak the forest opens up and the trail widens to the luxurious feeling, wide and hard packed gravel all the way to Brandywine Falls where the trail joins with the Sea to Sky Highway. Ghost Town
Cheakamus River & Interpretive Forest Trailhead Directions
From Whistler Village drive south on the Sea to Sky Highway as if heading toward Vancouver. In 8 kilometres you will come to the Function Junction intersection. Turn left onto Cheakamus Lake Road, then in about 400 metres turn left onto the gravel road(Cheakamus East Forest Service Road on the map above). You will immediately come to a fork in the road. Take the right fork and almost immediately cross a beautiful, one lane vehicle bridge across the Cheakamus River.