Sunshine Meadows: Ski Hill + Gondola + Hiking + Parks Canada = Pure Pleasure
By Jane Marshall
I’m discombobulated in the greatest of ways. I’m dangling from a gondola at Sunshine Village Ski Resort, and it’s… summer.
We get a season pass every year, and this year Sunshine Village has a great perk. We can use our ski passes to ride the gondola up to Sunshine Meadows to hike!
Day passes are available for purchase at the gondola pass at the parking lot.
Gondola information and rates here. Pick up a trail map when you buy your pass.
As I get off the gondola, I’m guided to a Parks Canada tent. They advise hikers to respect the alpine environment and stay on designated trails. It can take the plants and landscape 20 years to recover from an errant footprint, so Parks is educating all visitors.
Next, I hop on the Standish chairlift. My feet dangle, and instead of skis hanging below I see my Salewa hiking boots and a world of green plants and rocky cliffs. I double take so many times. Terrain that is so familiar to me after decades of skiing looks very new. Hidden waterfalls are revealed with the melt and there are wildflowers. Everywhere.
The trails are well signed. I decide to hike from the top of Standish to Laryx Lake. I arrive at a viewing platform and receive a sensory feast. Toothy peaks in all directions, stunning Rock Isle Lake below. The trail descends to the lake, so off I go. As soon as I’m past the lake, I see only 2 other people pass by me. I’m alone in a world of larches adorned with soft, new needles; creeks roll over their smooth rock beds, and the meadows are filled with pretty flowers of pink, blue, white, yellow. I feel like I’m walking in a mountain god’s garden. I can’t stop smiling as I pass by Grizzly Lake (while also calling out DAYYYYOOOOO to let the bears know I’m a solo woman hiker on her way into their world).
When I arrive at Laryx Lake I’m still the only hiker on trail. The still water reflects sky and trees and beyond, and I can see the Monarch Ramparts and Twin Cairns, classic peaks of the area. I find myself singing and smiling, lit up from the inside by the hum of life all around me.
I follow the loop and return to Rock Isle Lake. The Standish chairlift has closed (it closes at 5pm), so I return ‘skier’s right’ of the Strawberry chairlift. At the bottom my husband Mike is getting off one of the day’s last gondolas. We marvel at the summer vibe of the ski resort, then head to Chimney Corner for a dinner date.
Aprés Eats and Drinks on the Mountain
I let my legs relax after the hike while I chow down on vegetarian chili, while Mike lets his mind relax after a busy work day over a burger and beer.
Eating options are available at Mad Trapper’s Grill, or head to Chimney Corner for an entrée.
Because the gondola closed at 6pm, we tighten our hiking boots and head down the 4.6 km access road that in winter is the ski-out. It all looks familiar, yet strange, and we decide to return for lots of future summer hikes and trail runs.
Sunshine Meadows is ideal for a wide range of hiking abilities. The hikes are listed as green or blue, and are very user friendly. One person up there told me she’d never been at this high an elevation. It’s a super rewarding place to immerse yourself in the alpine. The afterglow of the hike stayed with me and I was left with the impression of bright alpine flowers, clear water, and endless peaks.
Sunshine Mountain Lodge
Don’t want to leave? Stay on the mountain and sleep in peace. You can also enjoy one of my favorite hot tubs to ease your muscles.