I think I may have just found the best view in the Lower Mainland. I’m not kidding. But you’ve got to earn it with an exceptionally steep climb through forest and meadows, followed by that same steep descent that could get very tricky when wet. Definitely not a trail for beginners. Allow plenty of time to admire the views and go when it’s dry. I think you’ll find it’s worth it.
The trail begins by the gondola station and is signed and marked as far as the pretty little Neverland Pond. It’s in good condition and dry – for now at least. Olesen Creek was completely dry. The fixed ropes on the awkward bits are useful for the descent but not really needed on the way up.
Beyond Neverland Pond, the trail remains mostly easy to follow but gets really steep, really quickly, rising over 430 m in less than 2 km. We needed to use our hands in many spots. Some sections have fixed ropes (especially helpful on the descent) but in others we relied on the vegetation for support and belaying. We were extremely glad it was dry as I think it would be much more tricky when wet. Flagging tape marks the route to follow – there are a handful of little side trails to viewpoints which make welcome rest stops but take care to rejoin the trail before continuing.
The gradient eases (slightly) on the upper sections passing through small bowls and meadows before taking a turn eastwards underneath a boulder-strewn cliff. Flagging still guides the route. Don’t try and go up; follow the base of the cliffs, boulder-hopping, until it feels like the land is about to run out to find an easy ramp that leads up to the upper part of the ridge. And be prepared to be blown away by the view on cresting the ridge.
Give yourself plenty of time as there are many places to stop and admire the view, and you’ll want to linger at the top with its jaw-dropping view. It’s a full unobstructed 360 degrees with views of Mount Habrich and Sky Pilot, Mount Baker, Mount Judge Howay, Mount Gillespie, Seed Peak, Watersprite Lake area, Mamquam Mountain and massif, Garibaldi massif, Mount Price, Black Tusk, Brandywine, Fee, Cypress, Tricouni, the Tantalus Range, the Chief, Howe Sound, and more.
As ever, for Sea to Sky Gondola hikes, we parked in the Darrell Bay parking lot, which was mostly empty when we arrived. And be sure to check the time of the last gondola down (unlike us who didn’t find out until we were in line waiting to go up…)! Currently the last gondola down is at 6 pm, just before sunset.
Distance: 13.5 km (including distance from Darrell bay parking lot)
Elevation gain: 875 m
Time: 6 hours (elapsed time from/to upper gondola station + 15 min each to/from parking but not gondola ride time)