St. Mark’s Summit is a great summer hike that’s part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail. These photos are from two trips up to SMS, about three weeks apart. The first set is in early June (with Jan+Alyson) and the second in late June (with my sister, her boyfriend Mark + Jan). It’s cool to see how much more snow there was earlier, even though both days were pretty warm.
On both days, we did this as a day hike from the Cypress alpine parking lot – a 20 min drive from our place in downtown Vancouver. When we took Dana (my sister) and Mark, we stopped at the viewpoint halfway up Cypress to take in the views – bonus tourist pic!
The trail leads up from the chair lift before it turns into a gravel road. If you keep going down the road, it becomes a trail again. That’s the start of the Howe Sound Crest Trail.
The trail is really nice and quite wide in most sections – it would be a great option for running if you’re looking for a long stretch of runnable trail with some elevation. It’s about 11km roundtrip to St. Marks and back.
If you decide to head up in late May/early June, you’ll know you’re getting close to the summit when you start to have to cross snowfields. Even though I was a bit sweaty in shorts and a tank top, it was surreal to be walking over snow!
Along the way and at the summit, there are great views of the Lions. If you continue on the trail for another ~15km from St. Mark’s, you will go up Mt. Unnecessary and come right up to the Lions (FYI I haven’t hiked to the Lions yet – I really want to this summer – but I have heard this involves lots of scrambling and you need to be very careful).
We had 2ish L of water with us on both hikes (for 3 and 4 adults), and that was more than fine on a warm day. Shoe-wise, it was very do-able in trail shoes as long as you don’t mind getting a bit wet.
When you do reach the summit, the views of Howe Sound are awesome! I suggest bringing some snacks (and, as always, the 10 essentials) so you can relax and enjoy the view. Bonus, if you bring some almonds, I’m sure the Whiskey Jacks would appreciate a snack, too!
Quick stats: 11km roundtrip | (late) May-Oct | about 3-4 hours roundtrip running, 4-6 if you’re walking | Parking at Cypress Bowl | 460 m elevation
As usual, photos thanks to this guy :)