This trail is growing on me more every time I hike it. Once past the initial grunt along with the hordes climbing the Chief, it has many enjoyable sections with some nice views, spectacular waterfalls (at this time of year anyway), and some peaceful forest. Plus I have to say I really enjoy sitting with a beer at the top, admiring the view of Sky Pilot even when it’s cloudy. However, it remains in dire need of trail maintenance, something that I believe the Sea to Sky Gondola folks should share some responsibility in upgrading.
For the most part the trail is well-marked and easy to follow. There was almost no mud and no issues crossing any creeks (there are two tiny ones). However, the trail is in terrible shape in many places. Sometimes it’s a mess of roots (which I know turn turns to a very muddy mess when wet, but today it was dry), and others it’s a barely discernible route through steep rock and dirt. A couple of fallen trees block the upper sections of the trail, and judging by the new messy trails that go around those trees, they’ve been down a while and not cleared. In other places, switchbacks have been subject to many shortcuts, creating yet more confusion and mess. The old notched log on the first steep section has been rolled away by someone: at first I thought it was an indication that some maintenance was planned but as I walked on I became less convinced of that. I’d love to see some work put in by BC Parks and the Sea to Sky Gondola. It might be time to write to them about it.
Shannon Creek is running high and the various sets of falls are spectacular right now. Definitely one of the highlights of the hike!
The forest flower season is well and truly upon us. Coralroot is beginning to grow in numerous places, as is bunchberry (some of which is out in full bloom already!), Queen’s Cup, and twayblade. Lots of starflower out along the first section from Shannon Falls, false lily-of-the-valley, goat’s beard, false Solomon’s seal, saxifrage on the mossy bluffs, skunk cabbage in wet areas, Pink heather is starting to bloom near the lodge, and we saw the leaves of round-leaved orchids in a couple of places. Rosy twistedstalk is in leaf as are many berry bushes.
Plenty of birds heard today too: booming grouse, mournful varied thrushes, Swainson’s thrushes, a flycatcher (free-beer!), nuthatches, juncos, Steller’s jays, and numerous tiny birds in the canopy whose calls are familiar.
Distance: 8.5 km
Elevation gain: 920 m