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Whistler has an absurd number of wonderful and free hiking trails and Parkhurst Ghost Town certainly ranks as one of the most unusual, exotic and interesting. Parkhurst was a little logging town perched on the edge of Green Lake way before Whistler was Whistler. Up on the ridge where Parkhurst sits, the views are sensational. Green lake far below, a solid unnatural looking mass of green. Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains out in the distance to the left and Rainbow Mountain across and beyond the lake. The small logging town called Parkhurst came into being in 1926 when the Barr Brothers Logging Company purchased the land from a recent widow looking to sell. Mrs Parkhurst sold the land and a small house which quickly transformed into several small houses, bunkhouses and a steam powered mill on the point of land that still conspicuously juts out from the shore. Soon there were 70 loggers working the mill and living much of the year in the town that was now named after the original owners of the land, the Parkhurst's.
The Great Depression hit the logging industry hard and unable to sell what they produced and the mill went into receivership. In 1932 the mill was purchased by another logging company and was back in business under a new name, Northern Mills. It was to be short lived however, as a fire destroyed the mill in 1938. It was rebuilt and the town once again grew in size to include a school and a store. Parkhurst continued as a small logging town until the logging industry slowed down in the 1950's and in the 1966 Parkhurst was finally abandoned. If you have a good look around Parkhurst today, you can find remnants of its past almost everywhere you look. From the old disintegrating truck from the 50's to the absurdly and improbably located car being consumed by the forest.
What makes Parkhurst Ghost Town such a great hiking trail and destination is where it is located and the trail to get to it. One route, one of several ways to get to it, runs along the scenic Green River and next to the still active train tracks that run through Whistler. There always seems to be something to see. From the beautiful meadow along the train tracks, to the suddenly deep forest where you have to play a game of finding the next, pink tree marker or risk wandering off the trail. The trail markers are numerous, and though getting lost is inevitable, you can only stray a few metres before, the river or steep terrain push you back onto the marked trail. Once up on the ridge above Green Lake where Parkhurst is located, the forest takes on a spooky feel. Trees are all far apart and with branches only high up give the forest a unnaturally lifeless look.
As recent as the late 90's a few houses remained standing, but the merciless winters with crushing snow has collapsed all but one house. There are a couple half collapsed relics, but for the most part the town has disintegrated. Unexpectedly, even in the deep snow of winter, stumbling on remnants of the old town are frequent. Countless half collapsed houses lay in the picturesque forest that has grown since the town was abandoned. Finding the abandoned vehicles in the town is like a game as you wander around the maze of trails. The old rusty car, the even older truck, and an ancient and enormous logging tractor perched as it was decades ago, on the edge of Green Lake. Quite a marvel to see. Like a giant museum exhibit that looks like it could still be there in a thousand years from now.
Just steps from the impressive tractor, if you are lucky and persistent, you can find another extraordinary part of abandoned tractor. This huge and solid piece of steel, left so long ago, has had trees grow in and around it. A large tree, over 50 years old now grows in a triangle shape through this ancient machinery. Squeezing into the only shape it could, but bewildering to see. If you do find it you will probably circle it over and over, trying to figure out how it managed to grown its way through. If surreal and spooky camping, or just getting away from the noise of Whistler interests you, then Parkhurst Ghost Town will thrill you. With a tent on the edge of the cliff above Green Lake and silence all around, the sunsets are wonderful. There is a nice stream for water just a two minute walk, back from the cliff. Also, there is a water pipe sticking out of the ground where a house once stood, with water still flowing out of it like a little fountain. What a hilarious and great place Parkhurst is.