- Difficulty Intermediate
- Time 3.5 hours
- One-Way 7.5km
- Elevation Gain 918 meters
- Season March - November
- Camping No
- From Vancouver 1 hour
- Public Transit No
- Dog Friendly Yes
The Sea To Summit Trail in Squamish, BC, is a steep hiking trail that begins at the bottom of the Sea To Sky Gondola and finishes at the lodge at the top. Formerly known as the Upper Shannon Falls Trail, the route passes a couple of sweeping views of Howe Sound and the top section of Shannon Falls offering much more than a good workout.
The trail begins underneath the Gondola at the far end of the gravel parking lot but hikers can also start from the overflow parking lot and hike past Shannon Falls along the Connector Trail. The trail is very well marked with Sea To Summit signs, so make sure to keep following those signs on the trees. Please ensure to either have a pass or bring money to purchase a ticket to take the Gondola back down after your hike.
From the parking lot, cross the bridge and follow the trail up the short hill to a junction that joins with the Connector Trail. Go left and follow the path as you gradually climb uphill. The sound of water rushing down Olesen Creek can be heard up ahead as you approach and before long, you climb up onto a wooden bridge over the creek.
After crossing the bridge, the trail joins with the trail to The Chief for a brief section. Go right and begin the steep uphill hike up the wooden stairs with the rushing water to your right. This section is steep and often quite busy with plenty of hikers heading up to enjoy the views on the Chief. Continue hiking uphill and watch for a sign marking a junction. Go right at the junction as you leave the trail to the Chief and continue following the Sea To Summit route.
The trail offers a reprieve for awhile as you follow a flat section to a wooden bridge, crossing back over Olesen Creek before continuing along the easiest section of the hike. Just after passing the 1/4 way marker, things go back to being steep and difficult. The trail veers left and up some old, wooden steps, continuing a steep ascent through the forest. After hiking uphill, the trail reaches a clearing where the Gondola passes overhead.
After waving at the passing people, continue hiking back in the forest along a section that descends gradually before the trail turns left again and heads up a steep hill. The first section of hill isn't too bad but then it gets very steep, with scrambling required and one section where you have to pull yourself over a challenging, large rock. Just after climbing up and over this rock, walk to the right and up onto the rocky bluff for a small view of Howe Sound.
Continue following the Sea To Summit Trail as it passes through a section of gradual ups and downs, quickly gaining you time and distance. The sound of the falls up ahead gets closer as the trail passes next to the rushing water and you use a chain to pull yourself up the rocks nearby. Do not venture too close or into the water as you are at the top of Shannon Falls at this point. Follow the trail as you pass through a lush forest and continue hiking uphill.
Just after passing the 1/2 way marker, you arrive at a rocky clearing with an incredible view of Howe Sound. This is a great location to stop for awhile for a snack and soak in the view, one of the best in the region. After a short break, follow the markers up the rock section, then drop back onto the dirt trail and back into the forest. The next section is mostly uphill but not as steep as some of the previous sections.
Eventually, you'll arrive at, what looks like, a rugged forestry road. Go left and following the route, crossing a small creek before heading uphill. At a junction and sign post on the left, go left towards the Lodge as you have 2.3km still to hike. Make up time on the flat section before turning right and heading uphill.
The trail again passes under the Gondola as, this time, you use a rope to pull yourself up the smooth rock. Continue along the hiking trail, through the forest as you have less than 1km to go. At a clearing, a glimpse of the lodge can be seen, before dipping back into the forest and hiking the final section out of the forest to the top of the gondola.