Hike up like we did!
With the kids in tow (plus another family who had 2 of their own at ages 9 & 6), it took us almost 4.5hrs to ascend the 885m to get from the parking lot (near sea level) at Shannon Falls to the top of the Gondola Area. The trail meandered quite a lot to make the ascent not as steep; but in doing so, it also ended up being 7.5km in length.
|We followed this orange route called the 'Sea to Summit' trail|
While it was far from a walk in the park, it was also within the ability of all in our group. There were a couple of steep sections that required the use of the installed chains and ropes. There were also sections that required you to use your hands to help you climb up over the boulders. Most of the hike is under the canopy of trees. Lots of spots could be found to take a short break to catch your breath or to even have a snack with a view. Warning: there are no restrooms or other facilities along the way, so make sure you bring lots of water, food and toilet paper!
|A section that had chains to help you pull yourself upwards.|
|This section had ropes to help you.|
|The kids decided that this alternate route looked like fun--at first!|
|A nice clearing to have a short lunch break.|
If anyone is familiar with the 'Grouse Grind' and the 'Stawamus Chief' hikes, this Sea to Summit hike is like a cross between the two in terms of of difficulty.
We even came across a few dogs on the trail. But once at the summit, owners must leave their dogs in the allocated area as they are not allowed on any of the trails there.
|Four-legged hikers must wait here if their owners want to explore the summit area.|
Regardless of how you get there, once at the summit there is plenty to do, including a cafeteria, a gift shop and a suspension bridge. There are other gravel walking trails of varying distances too.
|Stawamus Chief Viewpoint (Chief is below to the right)|
Most visitors pay for a return trip from the bottom. There are different pricing levels, but start at $38 for an Adult. There's a Family Ticket (2A + 2C) at $94 return. If you chose to hike up as we did, they only charge you $10 per person for the 8-12min gondola ride down (kids under 6 free). That's over 60% savings! So while the hike itself was our goal, the $56 we saved had made it even better!
|Each gondola seats about 6-8 people.|
The Sea to Sky Gondola is located less than 1hr from Downtown Vancouver. Whether you ride the gondola up from the bottom, or hike up as we did, we're sure you'll love what awaits you at the top!