Squamish Sea to Summit: 7.5 kilometres of peace and nature

If you live in BC, you’ve probably heard of The Chief hike in Squamish but what about the Sea to Summit Trail?

The Sea To Summit Trail is a 7.5 Kilometer trail that gains 835 meters in elevation. It is located at the tourist attraction, the “Sea to Sky Gondola.” This trail offers an adventurous hike in the forest. This trail offers an adventurous hike with ropes and big natural stairs made from roots and rocks. Giant rocks and cliffs allow you to see your elevation gain while shady trees cover you.

This exciting trail starts off on The Stawamus Chief which is a well-known trail. This section has lots of man-made features like stairs but that’s because the main trail hasn’t started yet. As you climb you will notice that this section is very busy but these people are mostly hiking the Chief. You will see a fork half a kilometre into the hike, one branch continues up The Chief and the other takes you up the Sea To Summit.

Now, this is really where the adventure starts. The stairs go away and it is just raw trail. Once you’ve passed the fork that takes you away from The Chief, you will pass a loud raging river on your left. This is the river that leads to Shannon falls so don’t try to ride the river or you could find yourself in the drink. The trail features rock viewpoints so you can sit and look out at the Squamish basin. You can see the busy ports, the sparkling ocean and the tall mountains blanketed in forest. There are no fences at these locations so be careful as you could find yourself falling to your death–but don’t worry too much: that hasn’t happened to anyone yet.

This hike is split into 400 different sections that took me three hours to complete. As you climb, you will notice green stickers on the trees and rocks. These stickers have numbers and as you hike up, the number you see on the sticker increases letting you know how close to the end of the long trail you are. Remember the trail also has big signs that let you know that you are ¼ and ½ way there so don’t be disappointed if you are 45 minutes in, out of breath and see “You are ¾ from the top!”

The Sea to Summit Trail features a more inclined trail and fewer stairs, very different than the popular and very busy Grouse Grind, which ascends Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. The Grind is mostly composed of man-made stairs and is more of a trail for people trying to beat their record. What makes the Sea to Summit Trail better than the Grouse Grind or even the Chief is that there are a lot fewer people at any given time. When I hike, I hate when there are people in front of me, behind me and going the other way, especially when they are slow. It just defeats the feeling of being all alone in nature. There were stretches on the trail where it was just me and nature. No voices, only birds, rushing water and trees in the wind. Close to the finish, there were more people because it started getting steeper and people started ascending slower so many faster hikers caught up. The best part of the trail was at the end, there is a big steep rock with a rope. I had to grab the rope and slowly climbing without falling. There is no alternate route if you can’t climb.

This trail is one of the best I have ever done and it is definitely worth going back to. At the summit, there are plenty of more, lighter trails to choose from that take you deeper into the forest. There are washrooms, a cafeteria, and a shop to buy clothing or accessories. Be sure to bring money because you are going to want a ride down to the base of the mountain on the gondola, another great experience. You can hike back down but it can be more dangerous. A trip could result in a bigger fall. Going downhill can also put more strain on your knees causing premature failure. If you chose to take the gondola back down, check out the prices here. You can save money by buying tickets online rather than buying tickets at the window.

I enjoyed this hike and you should too. So pack your backpacks, grab your friends and hike the Sea To Summit.

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