By Elyse Mailhot
Published: Aug 4, 2014
It’s way beyond a sightseeing lift. The Sea to Sky Gondola has locals and outdoor enthusiasts excited about the range of hiking terrain the new attraction is opening up.
“It’s hard to believe that less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver, right on the Sea to Sky Highway, we can access hiking and climbing terrain that once took hours to approach on foot,” said D’Arcy McLeish, an Alpine Patroller and Squamish local at the Sea To Sky Gondola.
Starting from the base, the Sea to Summit Trail rises through the lower sections of the Stawamus Chief and Shannon Falls Provincial Park Trails and continues up what was once an inaccessible route through beautiful forest to the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola. Views of Howe Sound and the surrounding peaks abound throughout.
A three to four hour challenging hike climbing just over 900 metres, the Sea to Summit Trail is definitely a must do. The best part? Enjoying an icy cold Howe Sound Brewing Company micro-brew on the deck while soaking in the views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains.
Starting from the top station, have a locally roasted Galileo espresso on the deck while you ponder hiking options for the day. For those seeking a relaxing walk, two interpretive loops, the Panorama and Spirit Trails, make for a gentle stroll through coastal forest, sub alpine flowers and budding Alaskan Blueberry bushes. Off the Panorama Trail take a quick, single track detour through the Lookback Trail, a loop with sweeping views of Goat Ridge, the Gondola and Sky Pilot Mountain.
Further afield, the Shannon Basin Loop is an easy, two to three hour hike for those looking for a longer, non-technical walk. The Wrinkle Rock Trail provides a little more challenge in a short, manageable distance or you can increase the difficulty with an out and back on Al’s Habrich Trail.
Al’s Trail provides a challenging three to four hour excursion with majestic viewpoints along the way.
The hiking and walking opportunities presented by the Sea to Sky Gondola are unique in both their variety and accessibility for people of all abilities wanting some time in the outdoors. Whether you walk up to the top or start when you get off the lift, the Sea to Sky Gondola is a hiker’s paradise and is the Sea to Sky Corridor’s front door to adventure.
No matter which hike or walk you choose, remember to prepare for your adventure ahead of time. Look up the last gondola ride down on the website, prepare the appropriate clothing and footwear, and schedule yourself extra time for surprise setbacks.
For all of the details on the hikes accessed by the Sea to Sky Gondola, visit www.seatoskygondola.com
Elyse Mailhot is a media representative for the Sea to Sky Gondola