The Sea to Sky trail is one of the best things to do in Squamish BC.
Not to be confused with the Squamish Sea to Summit hike / Squamish Sea to Sky hike that goes underneath the Squamish gondola or the Sea to Sky highway, this post is about the Sea to Sky trail that runs from Squamish to Whistler and beyond and it’s great for biking, hiking, and running trail that runs from the Squamish waterfront right up to D’Arcy near Pemberton.
The trail is home to beautiful scenery including mountains, forest, an awesome train line cutting through the rocks, and some of the Cheakamus Canyon trail and the Callaghan River.
It’s a quieter option than some of the more popular Squamish hikes and is great for biking too!
Whether you decide to do the Sea to Sky bike trail as a hike or with your bike, you’ll get some awesome views as well as a good workout. It’s one of those trails in Squamish I don’t see many people talking about, but it’s a good one and I think it’s one of the best things to do in Squamish too.
If you’re looking for a unique Squamish hike then check out the Sea to Sky trail!
Table of Contents
About the Sea to Sky Trail
The Sea to Sky trail is part of a project to link the ocean with the mountains. It runs 180km from the waterfront in Squamish right up to D’Arcy north of Pemberton.
It’s open year-round for non-motorized use including in winter when you can use it for snowshoeing or x-country skiing.
We biked the northern Squamish section going through Paradise Valley and turned around once we were about to hit the highway.
Sea to Sky Trail map
Below is our map from our bike ride on the Seak to Sky bike trail to Squamish to North Squamish. If you click on the map you should be able to see the route in a bit more detail on Strava (you may need an account).
The entire length of the trail is mapped out here.
AllTrails is my go-to hiking app for finding, planning, and navigating while I’m out on the trails. With offline maps on AllTrails+ you can be confident you’re still on the right track, even without mobile signal.
Biking the Sea to Sky Trail Squamish
We started from just off the highway at the Alice Lake junction and did a couple of kilometers of road biking before pulling off onto Paradise Valley Road.
This road starts off paved but then turns into a gravel road which you can drive down if you wish to cut down the biking/hiking.
After biking through the campground which was slightly flooded by the Cheakamus River, the trail gradually begins to climb.
First, you’ll come out to Starvation Lake. This lake was one of the quietest lakes I’ve seen in Squmiash, especially for a sunny weekend!
There were a handful of people floating but not many people about.
Then the trail climbs more steeply until you cross over a path. From here it’s a more manageable climb and the path narrows.
At this stage, you’re along the side of the canyon looking down towards the river and the train line between Vancouver and Pemberton.
The views here are seriously impressive and you can continue on the Sea to Sky trail until you reach the Sea to Sky Highway then eventually on to Whistler.
We ended up turning back around just past the viewpoint with the train line to grab lunch at Fergies Cafe back on Paradise Valley Road.
While we stopped just north of Squamish (as on our route map), below is an overview of what to expect if you continue on the trail.
Sea to Sky trail Squamish to Whistler
The Whistler sea to sky trail, part of the trail starts in Squamish and goes all the way to Whistler, much of it is covered in further detail above.
As you go along the trail, you’ll see tall mountains on one side and the sparkling blue waters of Howe Sound on the other.
The path isn’t just one type; there’s dirt, some gravel, and wooden walkways.
Whether you’re on a bike or on foot, it’s a great ride or walk and along the way, there are spots to stop, take a break, and snap some pictures.
By the end, when you get to Whistler, you’ll feel like you’ve been on a mini-adventure through some of the most beautiful parts of British Columbia.
Sea to Sky Trail Whistler to Pemberton
Leaving Whistler, the next part of the journey to Pemberton feels a bit more relaxed. The trail is flatter, (though there’s still elevation gain) and you’ll pass by some of the lakes in Whistler as well as those further north.
The path also takes you through areas with lots of plants and greenery and as you get closer to Pemberton, you’ll see fields and farms.
One big thing you won’t miss on the approach to Pemberton is Mount Currie; the huge mountain that seems to watch over the town!
Things to know before biking the Sea to Sky trail
- Trail Length: The Sea to Sky trail stretches over 180 km from Squamish to D’Arcy, but there are many entry and exit points, allowing for shorter segments.
- Difficulty: The trail varies in difficulty, with sections suitable for beginners to advanced bikers and hikers.
- Trail Surface: Expect a mix of gravel, dirt, and paved surfaces, so prepare for diverse terrains.
- Weather: Squamish weather can be unpredictable; always check the forecast. It can be sunny, rainy, or even snowy in higher elevations, all in one day.
- Wildlife: The area is home to bears, cougars, and other wildlife. Familiarize yourself with wildlife safety guidelines.
- Permits: No permit is required to hike or bike the trail, but some camping areas along the route might need reservations or fees.
- Connectivity: Cell service can be sporadic, especially in remote sections. Consider carrying a satellite communication device.
- Bike Preparation: If biking, ensure your bike is well-maintained. Mountain bikes are recommended due to the varied terrains.
- Trail Etiquette: Be aware of other trail users. Bikers should yield to hikers and communicate when passing.
- Peak Times: Summer and weekends can be busy. Consider starting early or choosing weekdays for a quieter experience.
- Local Businesses: Along the trail, especially in Squamish and Pemberton, there are opportunities to support local cafes, restaurants, and businesses.
- Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash, and follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment.
- Physical Preparation: Even if you’re tackling a shorter section, ensure you’re physically prepared for the distance and elevation changes.
By preparing well and respecting the environment, you’ll ensure a memorable and safe adventure on the Sea to Sky trail in Squamish.
What to pack for the Sea to Sky Trail Whistler/Squamish
Riding the Sea to Sky trail in Squamish by bike requires careful preparation. Here’s a detailed packing list for your adventure on the Sea to Sky gravel trail.
- Bike: Suitable for rough terrain, preferably a mountain bike or a good gravel bike.
- Helmet: Always prioritize safety.
- Bike gloves: For better grip and hand protection.
- Biking shoes: With good traction.
- Spare tubes: At least 2 would be a good idea, depending on trip duration.
- Bike pump: Compact and lightweight.
- Patch kit: For tube punctures.
- Multi-tool: Specifically for bikes.
- Bike lock: If you plan to leave your bike unattended.
- Wicking base layer: Helps with sweat.
- Lip balm: With sun protection.
- First aid kit: Include personal medications.
- Insect repellent: Especially in warmer months.
- Bear spray/bell: If you’re concerned about wildlife.
- Small lightweight backpack: For day trips.
- Dry bags: For keeping gear dry
- Insulating layer: Depending on the season.
- Waterproof/windproof jacket: Weather in Squamish can change rapidly.
- Biking shorts: With padding for comfort.
- Biking tights/leggings: For colder weather.
- Waterproof pants: In case of rain.
- Sun hat/cap: For sun protection.
- Sunglasses: UV protection is essential.
- Biking socks: Breathable and moisture-wicking.
- Cell phone: With offline maps.
- Water bottles/hydration bladder: Minimum 2 liters.
- Water filter/purification tablets: In the case of sourcing water from a river or a lake purifying/filtering is always a good idea.
- Energy bars and snacks: Preferably high-calorie, lightweight options.
- Lunch: Depending on the trip duration.
- Sunscreen: High SPF.
Remember to check local conditions, any trail advisories, and pack according to the season. Always inform someone of your plans before you leave.
Final thoughts on the Sea to Sky Bike Trail
This sea to sky trail bike ride guide has shown you part of the Squamish sea to sky trail where you can ride your bike past rivers and lakes, into the forest, and out alongside an impressive canyon. I think it’s one of the best sea to sky hikes and it’s a super fun activity if you’re looking for what to do in Squamish this weekend.
If you’re looking for more things to do on the Sea to Sky Trail Whistler to Squamish then be sure to check out this guide to things to do in Whistler in summer, such as these super fun Whistler ATV tours, the best easy Whistler hikes, where to go camping in Whistler and all my Vancouver travel guides.
Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Hannah
Hannah started That Adventurer after graduating back in 2013 and has documented all of her adventures since then. From backpacking South America to city breaks in Europe, a 3 month road trip across the USA in a self-converted van and 6 years living in Canada, you’ll find posts on all of this.
Hannah specialises in active travel and on That Adventurer you’ll find hiking, walking, biking, skiing and all sorts of active travel guides to allow you to see a destination in an adventurous way.