Monday, April 25, 2016

Sea to Sky Gondola {Hiking}

Do you love a variety of hiking trails with incredible views? Me too! We just discovered the beauty of hiking up at the Sea to Sky Gondola. Four months ago we experienced a winter wonderland up there which you can see here  (Summary: It's SO worth it!) and ever since then, I've wanted to return to check out the hiking trails.

This time it was just my husband and I so we wanted to see how much hiking we could get done in two to three hours time.  I looked online at the summary of the hikes for the Sea to Sky Gondola and we decided to do a number of the shorter ones because three of them were connected to one another.

We first crossed the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge because it's incredible and that's one of the main reasons to go on up!  Although it was a cloudy day, it was still gorgeous. It was a lot easier to cross this time as there was no ice or snow!  On the other side of the bridge is the Spirit Trail; this is a short 10 minute loop and easy for all ages.  It takes you back to the Summit Lodge where almost all of the hikes originate.

We started on the Upper Sea to Summit trail.  This is intermediate to advanced and was the hardest one that we did.  It is the top section of a hike that you can take from the base of the gondola all the way up the mountain; the Sea to Summit trail. There are fixed ropes that you need to use and it's definitely hard on the knees coming down.

The rock that I am going down is right under the gondola and you can actually see the rope in the photo below. I would recommend using the ropes and "someone" decided not to and slipped.

There are great views beneath the gondola and although it was cloudy, it was still incredibly gorgeous hiking in the old growth forest.

After 2.5 km, it joined up with the Shannon Basin Loop which was a great way to get our heart rates back to normal.  This is an easy hike but not as pretty as the Upper Sea to Summit one as it's an old roadbed.

After following this path for about 20 minutes, we came to another fork in the path.  Did we want the more challenging one?

Yes, we did, we were ready for a change in scenery!  So, onward we went on the Wonderland Loop Trail.  What a great decision. It was a bit tougher but had the beauty of the lake!  This one is only about 30 minutes long. Knowing what we know now, we would have done this giant loop of three trails in reverse to just make it easier on my knees on the Upper Sea to Summit portion (climb up rather than down).

We then started the Panorama Trail which is a loop. This is a must for anyone venturing to the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola.  It's for all ages and offers amazing views of The Chief and Squamish.  It has benches and viewpoints and is just 1.6 km in length which means it takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Now our view was of the clouds but it did part for a few minutes and we were able to see the three peaks of The Chief and Squamish.  Isn't it incredible how much higher than the Chief you are up there? 

So, there are some ideas of hiking up at the Sea to Sky Gondola!  Next time we would definitely add in the Lookback Trail off of Panorama Trail for a few more beautiful views.  The trails are very well marked and you can get maps at the base if needed. The weather was cloudy when we were up there which did prevent us from seeing as much as we could but it helped keep us cool and it just means that we'll have to go back!   Also, one day Gary and I will hike the Sky to Summit trail all the way to the top (about three hours) and take a $10 gondola ride down.

The sign of a great morning? Muddy shoes and legs. Before heading out, make sure you are prepared with food, water, a first aid kit, layers, and bug spray.  Also, I recommend having some clean clothes and shoes to enjoy the drive home just a little more.

And that, my friends, was our five hour date.  We drove from Surrey (took an hour), took the gondola up, hiked for two hours, and then had an amazing lunch (the grilled ham and cheese with tomato soup!) at the Summit Restaurant, went back down the gondola, and drove home to our kids.  The cost for an adult ticket is $33.95 online–totally worth it for a special date.  If  you're interested, you can also pin this post to read up on before going; click here.

If you've done some of the other hikes there, I'd love to hear about it! We plan on going back with our kids this summer and look forward to exploring some more on a clear day.  


PS Want to see an outtake?  I set the timer and ran and my leg sunk into a hole between the roots, right into the lake.  Good thing we were done the hardest part of our hiking as my shoe got pretty wet!


  1. that looks awesome!!!

    1. So nice to have an active day together in such a gorgeous place!