Did you know there’s a trail above the Sea To Sky highway with gorgeous views? It reaches a waterfall about 100m from the highway. I can’t count the number of times I’ve driven along there and not known about the trail above.
It’s a relatively easy hike – about an hour to an hour and a half roundtrip with about 200m of elevation gain. It’s not the quietest hike since you can hear the highway the whole time, but you do get some gorgeous views of Howe Sound.
1. Getting there/parking
Take the Lions Bay Ave exit, it’s the second one after the speed limit drops in Lions Bay if you’re headed north. You’ll want to find parking anywhere you can, but read the signs carefully. I’ve heard the residents don’t take too kindly to people parking where they shouldn’t – like the General Store, unless you’re actually going there. So stay clear of that one.
Once you’ve walked over to the General Store, you’ll find yourself looking down a hill that leads to the highway. Across the street from the store, and before you hit the highway, is where the trail starts (to the right of the sound guarding wall).
After that, follow the trail that runs across the hill. There are several trails that go to the right (up the hill) if you feel like exploring. The ones that go left tend to be “dead ends” or detours leading to views. The detours always meet back up with the trail so I recommend taking those!
3. The part where I got lost the first time I went…
Once you hit a paved road, there’s what could be a small gravel lot across from the trail. Head towards it, and behind a pile of gravel, you’ll see the entrance to the Centennial Trail that follows directly above Highway 99. It looks like they’re currently working on it (June 2017) so it may be easier to find soon.
4. The waterfall
After a while, you’ll hit another paved road. Head right, up the hill, until you reach a bridge. You’ll see the falls from there!
If you’re okay with a bit of bushwacking, I suggest crossing the bridge and going along the lefthand side of the stream. Be very careful! It’s not a trail, there’s roots, rocks and branches that get in your way. Once you get closer to the falls, the spray keeps things nice and slippery, so watch your step.
I don’t suggest getting too close, even though you can. The first time I went, I saw a rock the size of my fist suddenly fly down the waterfall and bounce off some rocks in the stream bed, reminding me that Mother Nature is beautiful but also powerful.
If you look closely at the map below and are feeling lazy, yes of course you can drive up fairly close to the falls. But the hike isn’t hard and it’s more rewarding if you walk up. Plus, remember all those benefits of spending time outside?
IF YOU GO:
- Difficulty: Easy
- Distance: 4.0 km roundtrip
- Elevation Gain: 218m
- Public Transit: No.
- Parking: Yes.
- Dog friendly: Yes.