Escape the city and hit the countless trails of the Coastal Mountains near Vancouver. You can choose from short day hikes that take you to waterfalls and scenic viewpoints or opt for longer treks to the alpine lakes in and around Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park. In the evening, enjoy the great restaurants, breweries, and spas in Squamish and Whistler.

Highlights

  • Hike the short trail to Shannon Falls, British Columbia's third-highest waterfall
  • Ride Whistler’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola to hike through the high alpine to glassy lakes
  • Trek the Garibaldi Lake Trail for some of the province's most rewarding views
  • Grab a craft beer at one of the local breweries in Squamish or Whistler

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Vancouver to Squamish (1 hour) Squamish
Day 2 Squamish to Whistler (45 min) Whistler
Day 3 Explore Garibaldi Provincial Park Whistler
Day 4 Whistler to Vancouver (2 hours) Vancouver

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Vancouver to Squamish (1 hour)

Town of Squamish, outdoor mecca for rock climbing, hiking, and water sports.
Town of Squamish, outdoor mecca for rock climbing, hiking, and water sports.

Enjoy the first section of the scenic 75-mile (120 km) Sea-to-Sky Highway to Squamish, passing through lush temperate rainforest with sweeping views of the ocean and nearby peaks. There are a number of great viewpoints, day hikes, and activities to enjoy along the way, so be sure to leave time to stop at whim without feeling too rushed. 

Just before Squamish, take the Sea to Sky Gondola from seal level up 2,903 ft. (855 m) to Summit Lodge which has a viewing deck that overlooks Howe Sound and the surrounding peaks. From the lodge, there's a suspension bridge and suspended walkway where you can take photos or, instead, head out on a number of great hiking trails (both short and long). 

Arriving in Squamish, this friendly town attracts outdoor enthusiasts year-round and has claimed the title of the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, tucked perfectly between Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains and surrounded by eight provincial parks. It's famous for rock climbing, rafting, windsurfing, as well as day hikes, biking, and scuba diving. For something a bit less adventurous, head out by paddle-board or kayak on Squamish Spit or simply enjoy the views of the iconic Stawamus Chief granite monolith which rises 2,300 ft. (700 m) above the town.

Later in the day, grab a beer from one of the local craft breweries or take a stroll on one of the nearby beaches lined with driftwood.

Driving time (Vancouver to Squamish): 1 hour (40 miles / 65 km)

Day 2: Squamish to Whistler (45 min)

Brandywine Falls Provincial Park
Brandywine Falls Provincial Park

Continue along the remaining stretch of the Sea-to-Sky Highway to the resort town of Whistler where you'll base yourself for another day of exploring the mountains and surrounding river valleys. Worthwhile stops to stretch your legs along the way include Alice Lake Provincial Park and Brandywine Falls (for many, prettier than Shannon Falls).

Driving time (Squamish to Whistler): 45 minutes (37 miles / 60 km)

Day 3: Day Hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park

Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Park
Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Park

Grab an early breakfast at Mount Currie Coffee before taking to the trails south of Whistler for a full day of hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park. En route, pull over to warm up the legs with an easy in-and-out trek through forest and over the rushing Cheakamus River to the historic Train Wreck site, a popular attraction of colorfully graffitied boxcars leftover from a 1956 derailed train (1.2 miles / 2 km).

Home to glaciers, wildflower meadows (late summer), and saw-tooth peaks, including the park's namesake mountain and impressive Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park offers a host of trails to choose from (most requiring at least a moderate level of fitness and expertise). From the Rubble Creek parking lot, pick up the Garibaldi Lake trail for an intermediate 11-mile (18-km) trek through thick forests of Douglas Firs, as you hike over an elevation of 2,690 feet (820 m). Stay awhile to soak up the view of the turquoise lake and glacier off in the distance before looping back. (Allow five to seven hours.)

Back in the village, indulge in a post-hike meal at Garibaldi Lift Co.—a popular spot with the locals and affectionately referred to as GLC—for a casual dinner of pub fare, draft beer, and live music that carries well into the night. Alternatively, grab a quick bite to eat and get cleaned up with a soothing mineral soak at Scandinave Spa and then make your way to elegant Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar, one of Whistler's long-running top restaurants.

Day 4: Whistler to Vancouver (2 hours)

Stawamus Chief Provincial, near Squamish
Stawamus Chief Provincial, near Squamish

Grab a smoothie at The Green Moustache and then load up the car and follow the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Vancouver. You'll pass through Squamish, a popular base camp for outdoor activities and adventure, where you can see the area's most famous peak from the highway, the Chief, a sheer granite rockface popular with skilled climbers.

Pick up the Stawamus Chief Trail for a hike up the back to reach the summit (divided into three peaks and graded as an intermediate hike, it takes the average person 3-4 hours to reach the first—and most visited—summit). Or, take the Sea-to-Sky Gondola up the mountain for excellent views of Howe Sound from Summit Lodge at the top where you can also grab lunch.

Driving time (Whistler to Vancouver): 2 hours (75 miles /120 km)

Map

Map of Sea-to-Sky Highway Getaway - 4 Days
Map of Sea-to-Sky Highway Getaway - 4 Days