Sea To Summit Trail

davidniddrie_seatosummit-5530

The recently opened Sea to Sky Gondola on Howe Sound just south of Squamish has introduced a host of alpine exploration for those who’d rather take a tram up the mountain. We chose to hike the Sea to Summit trail instead, reserving our gondola ride for the way down. Starting at the gondola base, the trail soon joins up with the Stawamus Chief Trail, an excellent, if often very busy, trail in it’s own right. In fact, if you haven’t done ‘The Chief’ it is highly recommended, rising 600+m from sea level to the top of the massive granite rock face overlooking Howe Sound and Squamish. Following this well-worn path, our trail soon splits right and follows the Upper Shannon Falls trail. A viewpoint opens upon slabs of rock, just below the gondola line itself. Thinking we’re halfway there, picture taking and soaking up the view ensues. Plunging back into the forest, and a downhill grade for a spell, the trail zigzags through mossy forest, past the thundering top of Shannon Falls, and up and up some more.

Plenty of trail left to tackle, but the grades ease and the earth underfoot is less rocky and rooty than the start. Finally, an old logging road guides our gentle ascent to the viewing platform and suspension bridge. The views of Sky Pilot and Copilot Mountains are unobstructed and beautiful, and we found ourselves a lot higher and further back from the Chief than we thought. Bottom to top, this trail has 918m gain over 9.8km one way. The delicious SkyPilot NW Pale Ale from Howe Sound Brewing is a just reward at the summit, and the gondola ride back down in 10 minutes (after a sunburn-inducing 50 minute wait) had my kneecaps thanking me. Back to our East Van home in an hour, this is a great workout up and a fine escape into the Coast Mountains of BC.

Squamish, BC, 2014.

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