Hiking Sea to Summit Trail in Squamish, BC
The base of Sea to Summit trail begins in beautiful Squamish, BC, just a 45 minute drive from downtown Vancouver. Park at the Sea to Sky Gondola and begin your hike at the far end of the parking lot under the gondola.
I’ve done a lot of hiking in the Vancouver and the Sea to Summit Trail has been one of my favourites for sure!
I loved this hike. The terrain and forests were gorgeous, wild and varied, you’re treated to spectacular views of Howe Sound and waterfalls and it’s an awesome workout. Plus, you don’t have to hike down, which saves time and your knees!
Sea to Summit Trail Highlights
- 45 minute drive from Vancouver
- stunning views of Howe Sound
- close up waterfalls
- cool mountain forests
- avoid the crowds on the nearby Chief
- great mix of easier and more challenging sections
- get in an awesome workout
- fun, fixed-rope assisted sections
- complete in 3 hours or less
- clearly marked trail
- go early and be back in Vancouver by noon
- beer, coffee and snacks available at the top
- take the gondola down for $10
The Sea to Summit Trail is approximately 7.5 km long from start to finish before taking the gondola back down to the base. The entire hike being closer to 8.5 km once you include hiking to the start of the actual Sea to Summit Trail. We started our climb from the Sea to Sky Gondola parking lot but you can also start from the base of The Chief or the Shannon Falls parking lot. The entire trail is very well marked so there is no concern of taking wrong turn. There are clear Sea to Summit Trail markers throughout as well as distance markers every few kilometres and a 1/4 and 1/2 point marker.
Sea to Summit Trail, Squamish, BC
Distance from Vancouver
Depending on traffic, you can reach the base of the hike in 40-60 minutes. Leave Vancouver early to beat the rush and enjoy a quiet, early morning on the trail. If you do plan on hiking later in the day, note that the last gondola down is at 7 pm.
Difficulty Rating: Hard
I’d say this is an intermediate to difficult hike. There are some steep and challenging sections, areas where you need to use a fixed rope to assist you and although there are some portions where it flattens out, most of your time will be spent climbing. I got a great workout and was definitely tired by the end! If you’re healthy and active, it’s no problem.
Time Needed: 2-5 Hours
It took us 3 hours to complete the hike, starting from the Sea to Summit parking lot and finishing at the top of the gondola. We kept a steady pace and only stopped for a few minutes here and there take in the views and snap some photos.
I think you could do to in 2 hours if you were really moving but it could take up to 5 hours, depending on your fitness level. 3 hours felt comfortable and allowed time to check out the waterfall and views.
Elevation Gain: 938 m
It’s a climb but it’s worth it, and there’s beer at the top. Or almond milk lattes.
What to Bring
- A small snack like a banana or homemade energy bar
- Or bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it when you reach the open rock face with views of Howe Sound
- $10 for a gondola ticket down
- Money for beer or coffee and snacks at the top
What to Wear
The Sea to Summit Trail is accessible from April-October so dress accordingly. You’ll be climbing up into the mountains so even in the dead of summer it’s always a little cooler than in Vancouver. The weather can change quickly so it’s always good to dress warmer than you may need to. When in doubt, layer up!
We hiked it July 10th this year and I was comfortable in tights, a workout tank and a fleece hoodie that came on and off as we hiked. A decent pair of running or trail shoes are suitable for foot wear but hiking boots would also be fine. I much prefer hiking in trail runners over hiking boots as I find they’re cooler, lighter and more flexible. Wear whatever you’re comfortable in!
I’d highly recommend the Sea to Summit Trail as a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. The scenery is epic, it’s accessible and well-marked, you’ll get in a killer workout and the quick gondola down is fantastic.
Grab some friends and hit the trails!
Come back soon for more on the best hikes in and around Vancouver, BC.