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.

  • Very easily accessible, park at various places
  • Clear trails & very wilderness setting
  • Nice suspension bridge at one end of the trails
  • Public transit stop just steps from the trailhead
  • Connect to Logger's Lake & Train Wreck trails
  • Ideal trail running route & dog friendly
  • An easy & family friendly trail
  • Many incredible spots for a picnic

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. Unfortunately, the Interpretive Forest is day-use only, no camping is permitted.

The main highlights of the Interpretive Forest are the beautiful Cheakamus River trails, 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.

The Cheakamus River Trails

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. 

Cheakamus River Trail Map

The Cheakamus River trails consist of two trails that link via the suspension bridge at one end and the vehicle bridge in Cheakamus Crossing. These two trails, Riverside & Farside, lay at the heart of The Whistler Interpretive Forest which encompasses the surrounding areas of beyond Cheakamus River. These areas consist of the Riverside Trail, Farside Trail, Discovery Loop, Ridge Trail, Riparian Interpretive Trail, Crater Rim Trail, Craterview Loop, Plantation Loop, Biogeoclimatic Loop and Crater Lookout.

The Riverside Trail(left side of Cheakamus River if looking from Cheakamus Crossing toward Cheakamus Lake) is an easy to moderate, 2 kilometre multi-use trail with a a few steep switchbacks and a couple very scenic viewpoints over the river. At the suspension bridge it connects to the Farside Trail, an easy, multi-purpose trail that brings you back to where you started in Cheakamus Crossing. 

Camping & Bivouacking Near Cheakamus River

Camping ProhibitedThe Whistler Interpretive Forest is sadly for day use only, so no camping is allowed. If it was permitted, there would be plenty of places ideal to put up a tent, including the ridge above Logger's Lake and numerous places along the Cheakamus River. There is of course, excellent pay use campsites at Cheakamus Lake. Helm Creek is another campground that branches off from the Cheakamus Lake trail at 1.5 kilometres.

Camping is actually quite good not far from the Cheakamus River trails. Just south, on the Sea to Sky Highway, you will see a sign on your left for Whistler Bungee and Cal-Cheak campground, and just another 5 minutes down the highway you will see on your right a big sign for Whistler RV Park & Campground. This relatively new campground is quite nice, located up on a ridge overlooking snowy mountain peaks including Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. A possible drawback to this campground is that it is far south of Whistler Village, but if you have a vehicle that shouldn't bother you too much. If you would rather a more wilderness style camping, with few to no RV's then the Cal-Cheak Recreation Site is an excellent choice. After turning off the highway at the sign for Whistler Bungee and Cal-Cheak, you will almost immediately see the campsite on your right, and further along on your left. This campsite is beautiful, wild and in between two dramatically beautiful rivers, Cheakamus and Callaghan. All the campsites are drive-in and just steps from a gorgeous river view. 

Facilities at Cheakamus River

The Cheakamus River trails and the Interpretive Forest don't have any facilities such as outhouses or picnic tables. This is quite nice as to maintain a wild and untouched feeling of the area. Cheakamus Crossing has a few eateries with washrooms. The HI Whistler Hostel has a very nice little coffee shop with a few things to eat and drink. It is worth checking out, not least for a glimpse at Athletes Village. The name given to this neighbourhood for the 2010 Olympics as it accommodated hundreds of athletes. The HI Whistler Hostel is a huge hostel and looks inside and out like a hotel. Very modern and trendy feeling as you walk in the front door. The only drawback to this hostel is its location, as it is 8 kilometres south of Whistler Village, though on a regular bus route.

Restrictions and Concerns at Cheakamus River

No Campfires AllowedCamping ProhibitedNo Motorized VehiclesNo fires are allowed in Whistler's Interpretive Forest as the danger of forest fires is very high. No motorised vehicles on the trails either. Camping is not allowed, however the Interpretive Forest covers quite a large area of wilderness with dozens of idyllic places to sneak a nights sleep in the wilderness. For legal campsite options you have to look further up the Cheakamus valley. Cheakamus Lake has two very nice, wilderness campsites(pay to use). Helm Creek Campground is further up towards Black Tusk. These are both in Garibaldi Provincial Park, which is campsite friendly, but not dog or bike friendly. As mentioned above, the Cal-Cheak Campground and Whistler RV Park & Campground are good options for pay camping.

Wildlife at Cheakamus River

WildlifeThe chances of spotting a bear along Cheakamus River or anywhere in the Interpretive Forest are good. If you drive, hike or bike up the 8 kilometre logging road to the Cheakamus Lake trailhead, you will pass numerous piles of bear dung. Often on this road you will encounter bears as well as on the trails. The encounters on the hiking/biking trails can be quite unnerving due to the windy trails causing you to encounter them at close range. There is no great danger for bears in Whistler unless you provoke them. Of course provoking a bear is as easy as having lots of food around and luring one toward you. 

Parking & Trailhead Directions to Cheakamus River

Parking & Trailhead DirectionsPublic Transit to TrailheadParking for the Cheakamus River trails and Whistler's Interpretive Forest are numerous. The main Whistler Interpretive Forest parking lot is located just off the Sea to Sky Highway. Easy to spot and just metres from the highway. There is a bus stop very close to the parking lot, so it is convenient by bus as well. Biking to the Cheakamus River trails is very easy because the Sea to Sky Trail and Whistler's Valley Trail system connects to Cheakamus Crossing from the Village. The route is very scenic and on a wide, two lane purpose build, multi-use trail. This trail actually cuts through the Interpretive Forest's parking lot. Other parking areas for Cheakamus River are mostly unmarked, but excellent and convenient. You can in fact park just steps from the suspension bridge over the river at the parking area, best for the short trek up to Logger's Lake. Cheakamus Crossing also has a nice and huge parking area that sits next to is the Ridge Trail leading to Logger's Lake.

More Great Hiking Around 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 lakesits 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 Whistler Village.  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.
More Whistler Hiking Trails