The hike up Shannon falls is not the most difficult but it is the least marked and travelled of the three summits I made. Be prepared to wander through the trees and at several sections you will be assisted by wooden ladders, chains and handrails.
The trail to the very top drops into a narrow and interesting little gully, before one final climb to the upper falls where you will hear the thunderous Shannon Falls Creek tumbling down the mountain. The forests are beautiful winding trails through ancient trees.
The first area is not as well known, there is a cliff ledge in the sun that has the perfect view of where ocean salt water meets fresh water. This is a spot you don’t want to swim in as it is frequented by sharks due to the mix of aquatic species at the sea line so keep a lookout for sharks from this spot because sometimes you see them.
This is an incredible view of you can stomach the walk to the edge, you can sit with your feet over thousands of pine trees and gaze down to turquoise water meeting blue water in a perfect line. This spot is sunny so wear sunscreen and a hat or sunglasses no shade is provided, you want also want to sit on something a towel or blanket because the rocks are scorching be mindful of your dogs here should you choose to hike with them and perhaps tie them to a tree as the ledge is dangerous. This spot is close to the top of the falls but is very private, nobody we encountered that day knew about the spot that we found by veering slightly off path when we were coming around the mountain to take in the view.
Some spots are slippery with steep drops beside you which make it quite dangerous. Some parts of the trail are challenging to find your footing because they are steep and large rocks. There are several of the most magical isolated spots in this forest with tiny waterfalls covered in the most perfect moss.
Most magical forest, sunbeams of light shining everywhere through the trees, ions from the mountains all around me and silence. I just felt so blessed and grateful, I’ve never been anywhere more beautiful. I recommend that you take some time to be alone on your travel up the mountain while friends are close by on the trail within distance to hear each other’s voices for safety.
It was July when we travelled to Shannon Falls and the rocks were dry enough to cross with the water low enough and the current calm enough to take a cold water plunge.Sitting by the falls is warm and cool at the same time and the rocks provide the sort of shade that allow you to spend an afternoon comfortably taking in the amazing view. I could not help feeling like I was in The Flinstones, the way the water runs over the rocks have a major prehistoric vibe.
We also safely climbed to the side of the waterfall below where there is a smaller pool of still water, the rock face is the perfect spot to catch the sun after getting wet by the water. You can rock climb the top part of the summit and we met some really nice climbers and had some drinks with them before heading back down the mountain. They stayed later then us and then beat us down the mountain, climbers are very athletic.
A few unspoken rules of Shannon Falls are you look out for others and communicate so nobody gets hurt or lost, you avoid getting in the water if the rocks are wet or the current is flowing, when the water has a strong current or the rocks are slippery it’s extremely dangerous, keep quiet because people want to enjoy their experience in nature without being disturbed, it’s friendly to offer to take pictures of people together because everybody wants to remember their special time, don’t leave behind garbage or human waste,take precautions to protect the environment and preserve the landscape for others.
From the base of Shannon Falls, look for the signs pointing you towards The Stawamus Chief and The Sea to Summit Trail. If you see signs for the Sea to Sky Gondola, ignore them as that direction will take you to the gondola itself, and not the trail you want to be on. It’s a quick walk to reach Oleson Creek. Cross the bridge over the creek, and you will join The Chief/ Sea to Summit Trail, just above the trail where it starts at the Stawamus Chief parking lot.
Directions from the parking lot courtesy of Vancouvertrails.com
Turn right onto the trail once you cross over Oleson Creek, and begin climbing up the steep trail. If you’re hiking on a weekend, you’ll likely be joined by throngs of other hikers making the trek up to The Chief. Don’t worry, as you will soon exit The Chief Trail onto the Upper Shannon Falls/ Sea to Summit Trail, and the crowd will thin out considerably.
You will begin to see ‘Sea to Summit’ trail markers – large green diamonds – which start at #1 and go up to #400 at the Sea to Sky gondola summit. Fear not, as you’re not going all the way to the summit on this hike. However, you will follow these markers all the way to Upper Shannon Falls.
Continue climbing up the wooden stairs and steep trail until for about 30 minutes, until at about 280 m elevation, you see a junction marked for Upper Shannon Falls (along with Sea to Summit Trail). Follow the signs to the right and away from the crowd and back in the direction of Shannon Falls. From this junction it takes about 45 minutes to reach the upper falls. Crossing the bridge, once again over Oleson Creek, this portion of the trail is fairly flat and gives you a nice chance to catch your breath before it takes a brief, but sharp turn uphill again.
The trail continues to wind through the trees and at several sections you will be assisted by wooden ladders, chains and handrails. The trail drops into a narrow and interesting little gully, before one final climb will to you to the upper falls. You will know you’re close when you can hear the thunderous Shannon Falls Creek tumbling down the mountain.