There’s something about the colours of fall—the warm russets, shimmering golds, and bold scarlets—that make hiking during this season particularly enjoyable and inspire me to get on the trails. Recently, I had a glorious day on Skyline Ridge Trail at the Squamish Sea to Sky Gondola with fellow hiking enthusiasts Nicole and Jane. I’ve posted about this hike before, as part of an amazing, mildly scary loop from Sky Pilot Valley and over Copilot Ridge. This time we did Skyline Ridge as an out and back hike (not at all scary) of 22-24 km (7-8 hours). It’s a stunning hike and the fall colours are icing on the cake.
If there is a downside to this hike, it’s only that it takes some patience to get to the wow scenery. In fact, the best part of the hike starts after the “End of Marked Trail” sign, about 1.5 hours into the hike (see map at end). But the trail beyond the markers is easy to follow and the rewards for pushing on are great.
The views along Skyline Ridge are amazing but I also love all the pretty little ponds. They have beautiful shapes. Some, like the one directly below, almost look man-made with manicured edging and infinity pool styling. I usually prefer loop hikes to out and backs, but the ponds and their surroundings look wonderfully different approached from opposite directions so it was no hardship retracing our steps.
There’s no defined “turn around” spot on this hike. For us, it was determined by leaving enough time to get back for the last gondola download at 6:00pm. We made it fairly close to the base of Copilot (photo below) where the trail peters out and hikers are left to ponder if there is a route up and around Copilot to Sky Pilot Valley. There is, and it’s awesome, but as described in my previous post it’s a bit sketchy especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area.
To get to the Skyline Ridge Trail from the Summit Lodge, follow the Shannon Basin Loop (yellow line on map below) past the Sky Pilot Valley Trail (blue) intersection. This section is on a wide, flat gravel access road and is pretty boring, but things improve after crossing Shannon Creek and traveling towards Skyline Ridge Trail (purple). The first section of Skyline Ridge is a steady uphill through the forest. It begins to open up where the trail makes the sharp, 180º turn. You’ll soon get to an intersection (the small loop on the map); take the uphill path (it has an arrow marker). It is much more scenic than the lower path that is hidden in the forest (though both will get you to the same place). It took us about 1.5 hours to get to the “End of Marked Trail” sign.
From there, the trail (dotted red line) continues, mostly uphill, alternating between forested sections and open alpine vistas. I think it keeps getting more beautiful the closer you get to Copilot. We hiked about 1.5-2 hours beyond the “End of Marked Trail” sign before reluctantly turning around. I could have easily hung out on a sunny rock for a couple of hours admiring the scenery but the thought of missing the last gondola and doing two plus hours of knee-knackering downhill was not appealing. Start early and spend as much time as possible on this beauty of a hike.
For other posts about hiking and snowshoeing at Sea top Sky Gondola, please check out more of my posts: