Seeing the Howe Sound from above no longer requires you to hike up X amount of hours through granite rocks and in some places pulling yourself up in ropes … now, you can sit and get to the top in 8 minutes flat. You can also come back down without destroying your knees.
The gondola is $37.95 per person round trip but you can also get the summer pass, the annual pass and even a pass just to go back down the mountain (for the hikers).
There is a ticket booth at the base of the mountain and once you get your ticket, you can line up to get onto the gondola. They usually try to put 6-8 people inside a gondola at once and just in case you were expecting it, there were no air conditioning or music playing in the background nor is there an option for a glass bottom.
On the way up, we can see the mountain in the front, the waters behind, and hikers below.
At the top, we get off and walk into the Summit Plaza, where the cafeteria and retails are located. It’s expected that the only cafeteria at the top would be fairly expensive, but the salad was pretty cheap – only $6.99. I had a pull pork wrap for $10.99, which I suppose is still o.k. reasonable.
The cafeteria is new and they have ceilings to ground glass windows. There is an outdoor patio that overlooks the snow cap mountains. I’ve never been to Switzerland, but I would imagine it would look something like that.
To the left is also the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, a brand new suspension bridge that connects you to another hill. it is 100 meters long.
The view brings about another angle of the waters below. Having lived here for over 30 years, my mother have never seen this view …. because she never hiked. She seemed to have enjoyed the view.
I was really excited about the trails. The Sprit Trail (when looking at the map) seems less difficult and there are nice lookout points of the Chief to the side. In the beginning, we just walked around the summit plaza, then we got more adventurous (plus, we had ample of time in our hands).
The easier Spirit Trail hike begins at the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge and loops back to Summit Plaza, totaling on 400 metres.
With still a bit of time left, we returned to the Summit Lodge only to walk on the hike from the other side.
We took a walk on the Panorama Trail, a nicely paved hiking trail, 1.6 km long. I had wanted to see the Chief Overlook Platform, which views includes the Howe Sound, Mount Garibaldi and Stawamus Chief.
On the way, we saw a chipmunk and heard a woodpecker, a glance up and there it was, a woodpecker! It looks like a Pileated Woodpecker, which is quite rare (find the red spot)!
The Panorama Trail connects with a fairly short ‘Lookback Trail’, which is listed as a little bit more difficult but granite rock at the tip looking out at Goat Ridge was gorgeous. There were very few tourists on the trail; therefore, it was very peaceful and relaxing.
Afterwards, we made our return trip back to Summit Plaza to take the gondola down. It was lucky we gave ourselves 30 minutes because the line up was quite long.
At the base is a children’s play area, washroom, and a café.
We got on the bus and made our way back home while enjoying the view on the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway.
Returning to Vancouver, we were stuck in traffic on the Lions Gate bridge, a narrow bridge going from West Vancouver to Vancouver and wasn’t even built by the city itself.