Also known by different names such as Sea to Sky hike, Sea to Sky Gondola hike, Sea to Summit trail, etc. Sea to Sky Summit hike is a steep hiking trail that offers nice views of Howe sound & top sections of the Shannon Falls. This hike was formerly also known as the Upper Shannon Falls Trail because it follows Shannon Falls for most of the part.
Sea to Sky Summit Hike Summary
- Rating: Hard
- Distance: 7.5 km
- Elevation Gain: 3050 feet
- Time Needed: 5-6 hours
- Type: Out & back
- Season: May to October
Sea to Sky Summit Hike Video Guide
Sea to Sky Hike in Details
Sea to Sky Trailhead
We parked our cars at the Sea to Sky Gondola. There is a trailhead just the back of the parking lot which connects you directly to the main trailhead for this hike i.e. the Chief hike trailhead. There is a clear marking of “trailhead” near Sea to Sky Gondola. You walk for around 150 meters and it joins the chief hike trail as the chief hike and Sea to Sky Summit hike share the same trailhead.
Beginning of the hike
The hike starts with the stairs for the next 700 meters. Climbing up the stairs is tough. There is also a water stream that runs parallel to the wooden stairs. I guess there are a total of 200 steps. After a km, you arrive at the sea to summit hike & the chief hike fork. Take right from here. After taking right, the trail becomes easier for the next 400 meters. After the easy 400 meters, there is another steep part for another 200-300 meters which ends directly under the Gondola.
Under the Gondola
Once you reach directly under the Gondola, you get a nice view of the Howe Sound from here. Looking at sliding Gondolas from the bottom is not less than watching from sci-fi movies. Because of the recent Gondola wire-cut issue of Sea to Sky Gondola, Hikers are asked not to approach any Sea to Sky Gondola infrastructure and stay away from those. You will notice around that area.
Gondola to Upper Shannon Falls
The trail becomes steeper again after this point for the next 300 meters with boulders, rocks, and tree roots. Then it gets easier till upper Shannon falls. There is a trail section with a chain just before the Upper Shannon Falls. You also catch a nice view of the upper Shannon Falls, rocks, Gorges, etc.
Please be mindful that this part of the falls could be slippery and tricky, especially when the water flow and rocks are wet. So please be advised not to try to go into the water. The trail becomes steep after this point till the next viewpoint which is located almost halfway
Howe Sound View Point
As mentioned above, there is a very beautiful viewpoint after the upper Shannon Falls area. The viewpoint is around 300 meters to 400 meters from the Upper Shannon Falls area. The hike is steep throughout. There is also a rope section midway just before the viewpoint. This viewpoint is located almost the midway.
Elevation gain until this viewpoint is about 60% of the total hike elevation gain. Also, the second half of the hike is not as tactical in terms of tree roots, rocks, boulders, etc. So, the second part is easier compared to the first part except for small steep sections.
Shannon Basin Loop Fork
After about a km from the viewpoint, you reach the Shannon basin loop fork. You need to take left on the fork. There is a constant elevation gain from the viewpoint to the fork but it’s not that technical. At the Fork, you walk on a wide graveled trail for the next 500 meters.
Upper Sea to Summit Fork
After covering 500 meters, you will reach another fork called Upper Sea to Summit Fork. You can go either way, right or left, from here. The left route is harder compared to the right. If you are tired, you are advised to take the right route as the left route has some rope sections but if you want to enjoy the rope section, follow the left route. The left route is around 1.2 KM and is shorter & harder while the right route is around 3 km and is longer and easier with more viewpoints.
Sea to Sky Summit Gondola
Once you reach Sea to Sky Summit Gondola, you can either trek down or you can also take the Gondola to go down. It costs $15 as of June 2021.