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Whistler PARKHURST / Ghost Town

Parkhurst is a classic Whistler Bike Trail – Run – easy (kinda): 10km to 20km return depending if you turn around at Parkhurst or carry on to Wedge.🌿
Official description:
Parkhurst Ghost Town Loop is a 6.0 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Whistler, British Columbia, Canada that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and mountain biking and is best used from April until October.🌱

My description:
This is a great trail to do with the family or if you are looking for some not too technical terrain but still a good workout. The trail is part of the Sea to Sky trail, double track, and well maintained but it is quite steep at part. Beautiful view points and fun little adventure.

You can access it from the Lost Lake network of trail by Muffin Man or Hooktender. Keep going up to the Green Lake lookout and carry on up and up, passing a lot of beautiful view points (see photos).

You can go visit the Ghost Town (Parkhurst – see Whistler Museum history blog post below) at about 5 km’s in going north. Fun destination for the kids but *** BEWARE **** you don’t want to miss the turn! I did the first time and ended up running 20km 😅 🌱


The trick is to keep an eye on your biking app /map because the Sea to Sky trail loops away from the main dirt road and makes you miss the turn!

See photo below 🚵🏻 From the Parkhurst turnoff it is about a 1 km downhill to the ghost town.

Cute little loop set up by the muni. You then go back up the way you came from and turn right to go back towards Whistler or left to reconnect with the Sea to Sky Trail towards the Wedge parking lot.

We did this with my super friend @mountainwatergirl and my daughter Chloé who is 7Y. Chloé had to get off her bike about 5 times to walk up some hills and maybe 2 times downhill because she found it was a bit steep or loose rocks. 👻


She loved the little houses at the Ghost town and the idea that we might miss it because the ghosts hid it from mommy before. 🌸
We left a car at the Wedge Mountain parking lot off highway 99 past Emerald so she wouldn’t have to bike back…

View the original post on Instagram @catherineaird
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Parkhurst Before the Ghost Town – Whistler Museum blog archive

Posted on June 30, 2018 | 3 Comments
View the original post

Parkhurst may now be known primarily as a ghost town, but it was once the site of the first large and permanent mill operations in the valley.

Mr. and Mrs. Parkhurst pre-empted the land on Green Lake in 1902 and built a small house where they lived with their family.  It is unclear whether they ever operated a sawmill on the property, which was sold in 1926 after the death of Mr. Parkhurst.

The property was purchased by the Barr brothers of Mission who had been looking for a new source of timber.  William, Malcolm and Ross Barr built a mill and a camp for their workers and began operating Parkhurst Mill, named for the previous owners.

A mill at Parkhurst operated on the shores of Green Lake from 1926 to about 1956. Barr Collection

In 1928 Malcolm drowned after falling into Green Lake and then, due to the effects of the Depression, the mill went into receivership in 1930.  William moved on from the valley while Ross and his wife Alison stayed on at Parkhurst as watchmen hired by the bank until the property could be sold.

Logging operation at Parkhurst, late 1920s. This photograph shows a railcar, a spar tree and the steam donkey. The man standing on a log in the foreground is Ross Barr. Barr Collection

In 1932 Parkhurst was sold to B.C. Keeley and Byron Smith who reopened the mill under the name Northern Mills in 1933.  Ross Barr and Denis DeBeck were hired by Keeley to manage the mill and worked together until it burnt down in 1938.

Norm Barr and neighbour Jack Findlay in 1936. Barr Collection

The museum recorded two oral histories in 2011 that include many stories and a lot of information about Parkhurst during this time: one with Norm Barr, the son of Ross and Alison Barr, and another with Betsy Henderson, sister of Denis DeBeck.

Betsy Henderson had a very different experience at Parkhurst than those who worked and live there.  She, her mother and two more of her siblings stayed near Parkhurst at what had been the Lineham’s mink ranch during the summers of 1936 and ’37.  Her three older brothers, Denis, Ward and Keary, were all working for Northern Mills and, as Betsy recalled, their mother decided she’d like to stay with all six of her children for the summer.

As she was not working, Betsy was able to explore the area around Parkhurst and got into some rather potentially dangerous situations, such as taking a dip in fast-running Fitzsimmons Creek and crossing the Blackcomb glacier with her brother Keary.

The glacier was full of chasms and on one crossing, Keary asked her to take a picture of him on the upper side of a huge crevasse.  Betsy maneuvered around to set up the photo and, as she remembered, “when I looked up to take the picture I found that Keary was sitting on just a shelf of ice.”  Needless to say, the picture did not get taken.

The Northern Mills operation on Green Lake before it burned down in 1938. It was later rebuilt at the same site. DeBeck Collection

After the fire Northern Mills moved to Lost Lake for a year before deciding to rebuild at Parkhurst.  Though the mill would continue to operate into the 1950s, neither the Barrs nor the DeBecks went back to the mill.  This was not the end of the DeBecks’ association with the area, however, as Denis DeBeck continued working in what is today Whistler until 1945, when he followed the Barrs to settle permanently in Squamish.

Over the next few weeks we hope to bring you more stories from the DeBecks, the Barrs and others who worked in forestry in the valley.

Find out more about me on Instagram @catherineaird, what I do at www.catherineaird.ca. Feel free to reach out in the comment fields below.

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June 13, 2020

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