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The Sea to Summit trail, sometimes called the Sea to Sky trail, is a rewarding hike in Squamish BC that offers a gondola ride down. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than skipping the (sometimes boring) return hiking journey and resting your legs by getting a gondola down the mountain. The Sea to Summit uses the same trail as The Chief to begin with before splitting off, passing Upper Shannon Falls and then climbing up to the top Sea to Sky gondola station. Up here you can enjoy a refreshing cold drink from the cafe or explore some of the other trails. Be sure to check out the suspension bridges for awesome views of Howe Sound and surrounding Coast Mountains!
Sea to Summit Trail, Squamish, BC
The Sea to Summit Trail climbs twice as high as the nearby and popular Chief hiking trails in Squamish, BC. Starting off on the same trail as The Chief, it soon gets quieter as you branch off and begin climbing up to the top of Shannon Falls and the Sea to Sky Gondola. Perhaps one of the biggest attractions of this trail (besides the views!) is that you can get the gondola down from the top! The gondola costs $15 for a download ticket on the Sea to Summit gondola and I think that’s well worth it.
How to get to the Sea to Summit trailhead in Squamish
Getting to the Sea to Summit trail in Squamish from Vancouver is easy. Simply take the sea to sky highway northbound towards Squamish. You can park at either the Shannon Falls parking lot or the overflow which is across the road. Parking gets busy at the weekends in summer but don’t park in the parking lot for the gondola. Depending on where you’ve parked, you’ll either begin hiking from underneath the Gondola at the far end of the parking lot or by walking along the Connector Trail towards the trailhead for The Cheif and The Sea to Summit hike.
Know before you go
- Make sure you get your day-use permit from DiscoverCamping.ca before hiking.
- Always practice leave no trace ethics. Not sure what those are? Get a refresher here.
- Carry bear spray with you on all BC hiking trails. Get more bear safety tips here!
- Wondering what to pack for Vancouver day hikes? Here’s a hiking packing list!
- Refresh your memory about hiking safety with BC Adventure Smart.
- Don’t leave home without your 10 essentials. They could save your life!
- Dogs are allowed on leash but the trail is very steep in sections so plan accordingly.
The Sea to Summit hike
Walk to the far end of the Shannon Falls Parking lot (the end closest to downtown Squamish) and find the Connector Trail as it goes into the trees. This trail takes you towards the parking lot for the gondola without having to walk along the busy highway. When you come out at the parking lot, turn right and look for another sign for the Sea to Summit Trail. Follow this trail, heading right at a junction, and joins up with The Chief trail.
There’s a series of steep wooden stairs here which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve already hiked to the Stawamus Chief. It’s usually a pretty busy section but it’ll soon get quieter. Continue hiking uphill and watch for a sign marking the split between the trail to the Chief and the trail for the Sea to Summit hike. You’ll have to go right when you get to this junction.
After making a right turn the elevation dies down a little and you can enjoy a flatter section to a wooden bridge. This bridge takes you across Olesen Creek and then continues on more relatively flat terrain.
Just after you’ve spotted the 1/4 marker for the trail it gets steeper again. You’ll veer left and up some more wooden steps before continuing your hike uphill through the forest.
Soon you’ll come out to a clearing where you can see the gondola passing above. From here, head back into the forest with some downhill before turning left again and making up for that lost elevation with some steep hiking.
The first part of the hill isn’t too bad but it does get progressively steeper and there’s one section where you’ll have to pull yourself over a large rock. A little further on and you can take a break with some views of Howe Sound behind you.
Sticking to the Sea to Summit trail, the path becomes a bit more rolling in terms of elevation and you can make some great progress here. You’ll be able to hear the waterfalls getting louder and louder and there’s a chain installed to help pull yourself up some of the rocks. Do not go too close to the water at the top of Shannon Falls, it’s VERY dangerous and really not worth the risk.
At the halfway marker, you’ll come out to another rocky clearing with very impressive views of Howe Sound. Take in the views and, when you’re done, follow the markers up more rocks and onto the dirt trail through the forest. You’ll still be going uphill but not quite as strenuously as before.
The last section of the Sea to Summit brings you out onto an old path that looks like a forestry road. Make a left run, cross a small creek and head uphill. When you come out at a junction there’s a signpost on your left. Take this trail to the left and hike for just over 2km, enjoying this rather easy section.
Again, you’ll pass under the gondola, using a rope to pull yourself up the rock. When we hiked the trail it started snowing on us at this point! Following the markers, go through the forest until you come out at the lodge and gondola station.
Grab a cool drink, explore the viewpoints and relax before getting the gondola down.
Sea to Summit hike statistics
Know the essential hike details for hiking the Sea to Summit trail near The Chief hike in Squamish
What to pack for this Squamish hike
Make sure you look at these packing lists for the Sea to Summit trail in Squamish, BC.
More hikes near Squamish
Check out these other Squamish hikes with amazing views!