Distance: About 9 km roundtrip, took me 2.5 hours to hike
Difficulty: Easy terrain, wide path with mostly hard-packed gravel, dirt, some elevation gain (200m)
Approach: Follow Paradise Valley road north (which turns to dirt/gravel for the last 4-5km) until you can go no further. The last little part of the road is quite pot-holey, but most vehicles shouldn’t have any troubles. Looks like there are a handful of minimal campsites along the river – park here and this is where the trail begins.
I came across this trail because of a question someone posed to the Bike Across Canada Facebook site. They were wondering about the condition of the road from Paradise Valley to the Sea to Sky Highway. My immediate reaction was that there was no such thing, but then I started looking into it, found there was some form of trail and promised to go have a look to see if it was rideable.
Long story short, I’d say it is. It is obvious that a mountain bike would be better suited for this trail (in fact it used to be part of the mountain bike race, Cheakamus Challenge), but I think even a touring bike carrying some gear could do it – but there are sections that I know I would be pushing my bike for. There are times when the trail is composed of loose rocks about the size of my foot which riding through would be a challenge I wouldn’t be up for, especially while climbing at moderate, or even steep grades. The majority of the trail though is a hard enough surface to not cause trouble, although you would still be mostly climbing as you head north to the highway. There is also the section where you have to cross the train tracks – and on one side the barrier of rocks is impassable without lifting your bike over. For me this would have meant unloading all my gear so I could lift the thing!
Would I want to ride this way instead of along the Sea to Sky highway? Probably not as I did not mind riding the highway out of Squamish and you would bypass the beautiful Tantalus lookout if you were down on Paradise Valley instead. I also think it would take you much, much longer and be much more strenuous.
But I did thoroughly enjoy it as a hike!
The highlight of this trail comes about halfway when you get views of the canyon – the river below and all the amazing rock formations. As a rock climber I was constantly sizing them up for their route potential.
A few links: