The Sea to Summit Trail was completed in 2014 in conjunction with the opening of the Sea to Sky Gondola, and it offers a great way to combine the Gondola with a half-day hike. While relatively short at just 7.5 kilometers, the trail climbs over 900 meters and has some steep sections with rocky scrambles and fixed ropes to keep it interesting.
The first section follows the popular Stawamus Chief Trail up a steep staircase between a creek and a mossy cliff wall. This trail is often quite busy, but the crowds mostly continue up the Chief Trail. The Sea to Summit Trail splits off to the right after about 1.5 kilometers toward another section of strenuous climbing. Just before the halfway point the trail passes Upper Shannon Falls, which features several pools in which hikers can cool off if water levels are safe. Soon after, the trail emerges from the forest onto a rocky bluff with spectacular views of the Howe Sound, Squamish, and surrounding mountains.
From here the incline is more gradual, following veins of exposed bedrock and winding dirt trails through lush forests of hemlock, cedar, and Douglas fir. At one point hikers must follow a short section of an old logging road, but signage is extensive and easy to follow. The final section contains a few more steeps with fixed ropes and more beautiful views and forest landscapes before hikers arrive at the top of the gondola, where a tasty beverage is recommended before a relaxing gondola ride back to the trailhead. Your knees will thank you later.
Note that there is a $10 fee for downloading on the Gondola. For those hiking with canine companions, the gondola does allow dogs, but only for downloading. Parking is free but restricted to 3 hours, and Shannon Falls (400 meters south via a paved trail) has free parking as well.