A surprisingly nice little trip to do on snowshoes, comparable to the jaunt up to Black Mountain but way more interesting. The view from the turnaround point on one of the bluffs was superb.
Beyond the Marker 18 viewpoint, the trail markers are more sparse than is ideal, especially if Sea to Sky (S2S) gondola is marketing this as a winter snowshoe trail. I think it needs a bit more attention to avoid taking wrong turns. There is currently a well-trodden trail that is easy enough to follow, but I think S2S can and should do better.
The winter route starts off slightly differently than the summer trail: follow the arrow and then markers onto an access road off the main Shannon Basin logging road which leads to a fence with a sign pointing to the trail. A short connector joins up with the main trail just before the crossing of Olesen Creek. That crossing is currently shallow enough to walk through with boots/snowshoes on, picking the occasional rock. Many people were trying to use the slack guide-rope while balancing on icy rocks which was much more difficult than just walking through the creek. (This crossing is a bit of a bottleneck as inexperienced hikers struggle to cross at a point where more the experienced would simply walk across.)
The route was mostly easy to follow as it was packed down by previous snowshoers. However, as I mentioned above, there were times in the forest beyond the Marker 18 viewpoint where trail markers were few and far between and we relied on following the most likely trampled path. If we’d really needed it, then we had our GPS track from when we hiked it back in October of last year but the vast majority of hikers won’t have that fallback.
The snow was icy in the morning, slushy in the afternoon. Snowshoes were not strictly necessary on the trail but definitely needed off-trail. Many people with Atlas-style snowshoes were really struggling on the steeper sections.
The distance includes the extra kilometre each way to/from the parking lot at Darrell Bay which has grown on me as a warm-up/cool-down. The green of the low-level forest was very welcome after all the blinding white snow!
Note the parking lot at Shannon Falls is currently closed because of snow and ice (as is the parking at Murrin Park), though Darrell Bay is open.
Distance: 7.5 km (including 1 km each way from parking to gondola base station)
Elevation gain: 400 m