Hiking the Sea to Summit Trail in Squamish

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Sea to Summit Trail – Table of Contents

  1. Hike Introduction
  2. Hike Statistics
  3. Map and Elevation
  4. Hiking Route Description
  5. Directions and Parking
  6. Hike rating
  7. Free PDF Download

Sea to Summit Hike Intro

The Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish opened in 2014, allowing people to travel from sea level to over 800 m in the span of 10 minutes. With the opening of the gondola, also came the opening of some new trails, and access to previously hard to reach trails. One such trail, which is poised to become popular – and one that draws a lot of comparisons to the Grouse Grind – is the Sea to Summit Trail.

The Sea to Summit Trail expands upon the existing Upper Shannon Falls Trail, which is an offshoot of the popular Stawamus Chief hiking trail. The trail is steep, long and challenging. It provides a great workout, and also nice views along the way, including an up-close look at Upper Shannon Falls. Best of all, you can enjoy a beer at the summit lodge, and then buy a ticket to download on the gondola.

Near the top part of the trail, you also have the option of diverting onto the Shannon Basin Loop – an alternate route to reach the top.

Sea to Summit Hike Stats

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 7.5 km (one way)
Elevation Gain: 835 m
Highest Point: 885 m
Time Needed: 3 – 4 Hours
Type: Point to point
Season: April to October
Dogs Allowed: Yes (but not up the gondola)
Est. Driving Time from Vancouver: 60 Minutes
Trailhead Coordinates (Shannon Falls Parking lot): N49.40319 W-123.09603

For a better understanding of the stats and difficulty rating, check out the Hiking Guides page for details. Always carry The 10 Essentials and fill out a trip plan.

Sea to Summit Hike Map and Elevation

Sea to Summit Elevation

Sea to Summit Trail Elevation Gain (one way)

Sea to Summit Trail Hiking Route

The Sea to Summit trail brings you from the base of the Sea to Sky Gondola to the Summit Lodge at the top. You can start at the Stawamus Chief parking lot, the Sea to Sky Gondola basecamp, or from the Shannon Falls parking lot. When I did this trail, I started at Shannon Falls, because, a) it’s where I could find parking and, b) it is the most scenic way to start the hike while only adding a little bit of easy distance to the trip.

Starting from Shannon Falls, follow the signs for the Stawamus Chief. Take this trail leading away from the Shannon Falls viewing platform. Be sure to ignore the signs for the gondola as that will just take you to the gondola basecamp – and follow the signs for the Sea to Summit trail. It’s a short, easy walk and before long you’ll cross over Oleson Creek to join up with the Chief Backside trail. If you go on a weekend, you’ll be joined here by a mass of people making their way up/down The Chief. Don’t worry, once you zig off this trail the crowd will thin out dramatically. From here you’ll notice the ‘Sea to Summit’ trail markers. Large green diamonds in the trees, starting at #1 and going up to #400 at the summit. The entire trail is well marked and you can follow these markers the entire way.

Climb up the stairs and steep terrain, until, at about 280 m elevation, you see a junction for Upper Shannon Falls trail. Follow the signs to the right, away from the crowd. The next stretch of trail is relatively easy as you work your way back towards Shannon Falls. You’ll come out under a clearing for the Sea to Sky Gondola itself. You can watch the gondolas zip by overhead and wave at the passengers. You’ll also get a great view of The Spit in Squamish and if you look closely you can probably see kite surfers playing in the water.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Crossing under the Sea to Sky Gondola

From here, it’s some more climbing and a short distance to Upper Shannon Falls. Enjoy the waterfall, and then carry back on up the trail. You’ll emerge from the dense trees to a few bluffs with more great views of Squamish below. Continue to follow the markers and you’ll reach a map at the junction for Shannon Basin Loop.

Going left here will take you on the Upper Sea to Summit Trail (description below). Going right will continue along the Shannon Basin Loop Trail. The Shannon Basin Trail is a slightly longer, but less challenging route to the summit lodge. The Upper Sea to Summit Trail is  steeper and more technical, but it is also a shorter and more scenic route.

When you first connect onto the Upper Sea to Summit Trail you will be on a beautiful flat section of trail in the trees. You will once again pass underneath the gondolas before the trail begins to climb sharply upwards again. There are a few sections with chains to assist your climb. It’s a matter of simply following the markers to the summit.

There are only a few kilometers to go from here on the relatively flat trail. Once you’ve reached the summit lodge you can grab a beer and a bite before heading down on the gondola ($10).

The video at the top of this post was shot by my buddy Jeff and depicts our route as we went from Shannon Falls up the Sea to Summit Trail.

Download the PDF version of this guide for offline use on any device


A view of the Sea to Sky Gondola Lodge

Directions and Parking

Take Highway #99 heading north past Horseshoe Bay towards Squamish. As you near Squamish, watch for the signs for Shannon Falls and the Sea to Sky Gondola (they’re hard to miss), and simply pull into the lot right off the highway. Google Map directions are here.

Parking: Since you are hiking up (and not taking the gondola) don’t park at the gondola basecamp as that lot is limited to 3 hours. There is long term parking at Darrell Bay (to the south across the highway from Shannon Falls) and Chances Casino (to the north), and a shuttle operates for these lots on weekends and holidays.

You can also park at the parking lot for the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, or at the parking lot for Shannon Falls (recommended if you can find a spot).

Outdoor Vancouver and Reader’s Hike Rating

  • Variety of the terrain - 75%
  • Views and scenery - 85%
  • Not too crowded - 65%
  • Overall 'fun factor' - 70%


The Sea to Summit Trail provides a challenging workout, with rewarding views and scenery. It's a great, one-direction hike where you can enjoy a drink and a bite at the top, before taking the gondola back down.

Leave your rating using the stars, or the comments section below:

User Rating 5 (2 votes)

Other great hikes in the area

  1. Al’s Habrich Ridge (moderate)
  2. Hiking the Stawamus Chief (moderate)
  3. Hiking Upper Shannon Falls (moderate)
  4. View all hiking guides here

Download the PDF version of this guide for offline use


The Sky Pilot suspension bridge at the lodge

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Comments (4)

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  1. Jill Warland says:

    Have done the Sea-to-Summit twice this summer, first time taking the Wrinkle Rock route and the second time the regular logging road route (thought it would be easier for the dog). On the way down the tram though we noticed a trail has formed underneath the gondola nearly all the way up, save the cliff face at the bottom. How does one access this route? We saw two hikers coming up even below where the Sea-to-Summit first crosses under the gondola.

    • Karl W says:

      I know the trail you are referring to, which cuts up directly under the Gondola. I also saw someone hiking up, but I’ve only done the full trek up once so far. I don’t know where that trail begins, but as soon as I know I’ll respond here! (or if you find out first, please let me know!)

  2. Maria Christina says:

    I just made it to the SUMMIT last Thursday (08/21/14) morning all alone. Had the downloaded map with me and followed the trail….from the Gondola base camp (my 2 kids and a friend took the tram) to the Chief trail then followed the Upper Shannon Falls trail. Got a little bit lost and had to find the connecting route just after the big boulder viewing area, VOILA – found it among the bushy trees. Continued on till where the marks for the other continuing trails are. I really planned to take WRINKLE ROCK trail and so its the one i followed. I just kept on my pace till I noticed that moving gondolas are just overhead my path and a really nice view. Headed on till the Summit Lodge is seen from afar which I was able to reach in about 12 minutes more. A really rewarding view up there where i met with my friend and two kids. A 2 hours and 20 minutes record for me.

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