Parkhurst Ghost Town – Whistler Walks

Parkhurst Ghost Town – Whistler Walks

What do you do on rainy, misty or miserable days in Whistler? One option is go exploring the nearby Parkhurst Ghost Town. It is an easy loop that will take you through a mushroom filled forest to an abandoned logging village near Green Lake. On the return journey you’ll walk along the Sea to Sky trail, like the walk I described at Shadow Lake.

We did this walk in October, when there were loooads of the super creepy devils tooth mushrooms looking like they were bleeding along the edge of the trail. If you are a fan of interesting fungi, you will love this whole area.

Parkhurst Ghost Town Loop Map

Parkhurt Ghost Town – the basics

Distance: 7.7 km
Elevation Gain: 
200m
Time: 2.5 hours
What to bring:
As always the 10 essentials.
Bear spray as we saw a huge bear on this trail.
Facilities: Nothing really.
Dogs: Yes! It’s good for walkies. There are bears in the area so keep them on a leash.
How hard is it? Easy and family friendly

Parkhurt Ghost Town – Getting started

We parked by the bridge of the Wedge Creek Forest Service road, just off the Sea to Sky Highway North of Whistler. The bridge was being fixed when we visited, but normally you can park further along the Wedge Mainline Road. You follow the path alongside the Green River and the trainline.

Dodgy bridge

We crossed Rethel Creek on a very rickety bridge. On one side you could look right through to the creek. Don’t worry, there were stable planks on the opposite side!

Careful by the trainline

You need to cross the trainline, then there is a path in the trees to the left. It’s illegal to walk on the train tracks, so cross them quickly. Obviously, if you hear a train coming, stay well away.

Parkhurt Ghost Town Trail

Once you’re on the main trail, it is a pleasant walk through a mossy forest. You’ll climb up and over a hill with views down to Green Lake, then back down to the ghost town.

The Ghost Town itself

The part of the walk around Parkhurst is a loop within the loop. Just follow the signs to find it.

The “ghost town” doesn’t seem to be full of ghosts. Parkhurst was a logging village that was located here in the 1920s long before Whistler existed (there was a mill that opened here in 1923.) The mill eventually closed in 1966, and the area was abandoned after that.

The first sign of habitation is piles and piles of rusty garbage on the edge of the trail.

At its peak, over 100 people lived here; So there are plenty of cabins to find in the woods. The rooves have fallen in on most of them and they are slowly being swallowed up by the forest.

Most of the time you can only tell where someone used to live by a pile of planks on the ground.

Cars of Parkhurst Ghost Town

In addition to the ex-cabins, there are quite a few vehicles that have been abandoned here.

It is kind of cool to see how the old engines up close as they rust away.

One cabin left

There is a single cabin still standing in Parkhurst ghost Town. You’ll see the blue face painted on one side stare out at you as you approach it.

You can peek inside the house. There isn’t much left, just an old rusty bed frame and plenty of graffiti. There is a bath tub out in the forest to the rear of the cabin.

The creepiest view is at the side of the cabin where someone has painted a huge toothy grin onto the corner of the building.

Green Lake Views

While you are at the lowest points of Parkhurst Ghost Town, there are a couple of places where you can cross the trainlines to visit the lake shore at Green Lake. It was a grey, moody day when we visited so the lake did not live up to its name. Normally this would be a pretty lake with greeny-blue waters.

Mushroom heaven near Whistler

Next I need to show off some of the amazing mushrooms we found along the Sea to Sky trail and within the ghost town.

While we hiked through the mossy forest we started to notice little bumps where the russula fungi were forcing their way up from beneath the moss. There were hundreds of mushrooms like this!

We spotted plenty of lilac webcaps (ortinarius traganus) peeking out of the moss too.

As always, the forest was full of polypores hanging from the trees. Those droplets of water are not dew/rain…it’s a secretion from the mushroom that tastes sweet. I also loved the bright orange ramaria.

Devils Tooth for Halloween

However the real mushroom stars of the Parkhurt Ghost Town were the super creepy Devils Tooth fungi that looks like they are bleeding. Or, if it is not so close to halloween, they are also known as Strawberries and Cream mushrooms. Their scientific name is Hydnellum Peckii. The first one we spotted was blushing pink, with just a few tiny drops of mushroom blood…

We saw at least 30 of these amazing bleeding mushrooms. The red colour varies a bit, but they can look pretty gruesome!

The best patch for spotting these was after we left the ghost town, on the straight path between the ruins and the main Green Lake Loop. They were even fun to see when they start to rot and go moldy.

Be bear aware

I have to admit, I was pretty engrossed looking down at the side of the trail at all the mushrooms. At one point I looked up to see a MASSIVE black bear on the hill above the trail. He looks tiny in my photo, but he was looking chunky, ready for the winter. Marc was a bit ahead of me, so I spoke to the bear to let him know we were heading on past him, then continued on slowly, watching him the whole time. He watched me right back, but didn’t seem interested enough to follow us. Phew.

We found loooads of these red berries once we left the woods. I have no idea what they are, or if they are edible for bears…if so, maybe that is what the big fella was looking for!?

Sea to Sky Trail

Once we emerged from the wooded section of the trail, we found ourselves under powerlines, in meadows that must be full of wildflowers in the summertime. Just like at Iceberg Lake (we hiked there the previous day), the fireweed from the summer had turned into fluffy plants.

I loved all the reds and oranges of the autumnal display.

If a ghost town, creepy mushrooms, lake views and a huge bear are not enough to get you out on a hike, we also found a waterfall! You need to cross Wedge Creek on the loop back to the start. There is a bridge, but if you look down either side of the bridge you’ll find a waterfall and a raging creek with crashing, frothy waters.

Further down the hill you also get some good views of Rethel Creek.

Possible viewpoint

If you do this walk on a prettier day, you might be treated to views up to Rethel Mountain and Wedge Mountain. When we visited the surrounding mountains were shy and hidden in the clouds. However the autumnal views are bright yellow trees made up for it.

I know I always seem to say this, but I really enjoyed our mini adventure to the Parkhurt Ghost Town. It’s always interesting to visit historical sites like this. The ridiculously creepy mushrooms and the bear camio just made the walk even more exciting! I have heard that this also a fun trail for snowshoeing in the wintertime. It’s just once the snow has fallen you’ll miss out on the fungi (and probably any bear sightings!)

What do you think? Do you fancy an easy hike to a ghost-less ghost town? Just click on the pins below to save them.

53 thoughts on “Parkhurst Ghost Town – Whistler Walks

  1. That looks an atmospheric walk, the fungi photos are stunning, and the brooding magnificence of (the misnamed) Green Lake is all monochrome melancholy. Shame the ghost town wasn’t as spooky as some of the mushrooms, but I love the shot of the old truck slowly being reclaimed by nature. It looks like an early REM album cover. Glad the bear was more interested in berries than you!

    1. Thanks George! After we got home I found out there is a abandoned logging tractor that is being lifted off the ground by the trees growing around it! I’d like to find that in the forest next time!!

      I’ve been meaning to ask you, are your walks near the Lakes getting busier with everyone escaping their screens for covid-19. The trails in Canada because more busy. I was wondering if it is the same back in the UK.

  2. What a crazy place! Who would have thought such a place existed so close to Whistler in those fabulous mountains. So different from some of your other hikes but fascinating.

      1. It would be worth putting up with the creepy mushrooms just to see some of those amazing views! Even the huts look awesome!

  3. What a fantastic hike. I’ve been up the Sea to Sky Highway when I visited the area but didn’t realize that trail (and ghost town) were there! I’ll remember this for next time. Those bleeding mushrooms are amazing…I’ve never seen anything like it. You are braver than I am…that bear encounter would have freaked me out. LOL

    1. It’s okay Pam, there are soooo many cool places to explore along the Sea to Sky highway! I feel like the more you explore, the more places you learn about and want to visit there!!

  4. Kind of trail that I like to explore. And I’ve never seen mushrooms like that before. Over here is only the common ones.

  5. This sounds cool, I LOVE ghost towns. The graffiti sure is sad. It makes me mad when people desecrate ruins like that. We have a pretty famous ghost town in the Black Hills that the Forest Service had to take over with fences due to all the vandalism. 🙁 These places are cool enough without people adding their “art” to them. 🙁

    I’ve never heard of those Devil’s Tooth mushrooms, they are definitely creepy!

    1. I guess I didn’t mind the faces (even the creepy smile) but it is always sad to see the tags. It also made me sad that there was so much rubbish left from the settlement. The forest is slowly re-taking it all, but it is so weird that humans can leave so much behind when we move on to the next place…

  6. I always find ghost towns to be so fascinating. I can’t imagine being in a situation where I just walk away from my house and car and just leave it to crumble. These kinds of places always have such interesting stories!

    1. Yeah it really makes you think doesn’t it. I also find it mad that if they stayed, their land would have been worth millions now (as it is so close to one of the most expensive resorts in the world.) I mean, they would have had to have waited while the area developed around them, so I can see why people left once the work dried up.

  7. I’ve never heard of those Devil’s Tooth mushrooms before. They’re absolutely fascinating! I’m glad I know what they are now so I won’t be creeped out if I ever spot one out in nature.

  8. I have never seen and heard about devils tooth mushrooms until now. Really learnt something new. I also loved the mural on that abandoned cabin. You inspired me to go for a hike to a ghost town. Got to search one nearby.

  9. I don’t know where to start, I loved all of the hike! I felt like I was there with you freaking out (more than you might have been) about that bear. Beautiful captures of the scenery and the mushrooms.

  10. This would be such a fun place to explore! That bridge definitely looks kinda sketch though, haha. There are so many cool-lookin’ mushrooms though!

  11. Really gutted that I missed this on my trip to Whistler, this sounds like such an atmospheric hike that’s right up my street! Definitely marking for next time!

  12. Josy, those photos are spectacular. Not just the creepy mushrooms – I actually find the Devils Tooth mushrooms quite pretty – but especially the creek and the smiley face on the hut.
    Good thing the bear was not interested in some more food before hibernation. Oh my, this is not for me.

  13. ooooh! This is SO MUCH FUN! I love everything about this post! I have never seen such interesting mushrooms!

  14. What an incredible hike. That bridge is nuts! Plus those mushrooms are out of this world. I haven’t been to Whistler in ages but hope to visit again when the border re-opens.

  15. I love this! Abandoned pieces of civilization overtaken by nature. And the views are stunning! Lucky that bear didn’t follow, too.

  16. This has been on my list for some time. I love the idea of ghost towns, they’re just so interesting. I actually kind of expected there was more than one building still standing though. And I have to say those mushrooms might be the weirdest and creepiest things I’ve ever seen grow in the forest.

  17. This looks like such an interesting hike! It’s cool that there’s a little bit of art to find along the way. If the ghost town were empty of other hikers, I would definitely feel a bit creeped out. It’s really cool that you could see the old cars up close though! I am also so intrigued by the Devil’s Tooth mushroom! I would just have to grab a stick and see if the red droplets flow easily or if they’re more viscous and bubble-like.

  18. Ooh haven’t seen those devil’s tooth fungi before – they’re super creepy but yet so cool! I haven’t explored this area before so it’s nice to read your description.

    I think the berries are from mountain ash (rowan) – I must admit don’t know if bears eat them…

    1. After I wrote this I found out about an app “seek” It’s pretty good at telling me what berries/flowers/trees/critters are. I have a feeling you might like it too.

      It’s linked to iNaturalist, so when the app can’t tell you what something is, other people often can. 🙂

      1. I’ll definitely look at that – thanks! I’ve installed iNaturalist but have yet to actually use it… (Shocking, I know!)

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