Saint Marks Summit Hike
St Marks Summit is one of the best hikes in Vancouver! The Saint Marks Summit hike is 10.5km with 587m elevation gain and takes around 4-5hrs return including time to stop and enjoy the viewpoint. The trail is also dog friendly so you can bring your furry friend along with you.
If you like being at the top of a mountain with epic views below you and a golden glowing sky, then you should definitely do the Saint Marks Summit hike at sunset! St Marks Summit trail is located in Cypress Provincial Park in Vancouver which takes you to views overlooking the Sea to Sky. From the viewpoint, you will feel as though you are on top of the world!
The hike is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail and offers views above the Sea to Sky Highway. We think the views from the top are some of the best views in Vancouver!
Overall, the hike is of moderate difficulty and we were able to reach the top in just under 2 hours but we were going pretty fast.
This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about doing the St Marks Summit hike at sunset including where to park, how to find the trailhead and St Marks Summit hike’s difficulty.
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🥾 Hike Stats
From Vancouver: 30mins
Dog Friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes, at the trailhead
📍 Where is Saint Marks Summit located?
Saint Marks Summit is a hiking trail located on Cypress Mountain around a 30 minute drive from Vancouver, British Columbia.
How to get to Saint Marks Summit
The Saint Marks Summit Trail begins from the Cypress Mountain ski area which is where you will want to park. Please note that if you are doing the hike for sunset, you will want to park outside the gates to the official carpark as these gates shut overnight. The parking lot is approximately a 30 minute drive by car from downtown Vancouver. The road up the mountain is steep and windy so take care.
📌 St Marks Summit hike day pass: There are currently no requirements for day passes to hike in Cypress Provincial Park in 2023.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
Finding the Trailhead
From the carpark, head up the hill towards the chairlift and passed the large Cypress Creek Lodge. Keep walking passed the building and chairlift and look for the Howe Sound Crest Trail or Bowen Lookout signs. The Saint Marks Summit trailhead is to the right of this sign.
We recommend downloading an offline map for ensure that you stay on the correct trail as it can get a little disorientating halfway through the hike in the forest.
There are no bathrooms once you start hiking, but you can use the flush toilets near the trailhead at the Black Mountain Lodge.
🥾 St Marks Summit Hike Difficulty
Saint Marks Summit is moderately difficult. The trail is well marked and the elevation is not too crazy. There are some muddy sections with overgrown roots as you get closer to the viewpoint, but the trail is pretty well maintained. Honestly the hardest part was dealing with the bugs on the way up just before sunset. We definitely recommend bringing along your bug spray!
🕐 How Long Does it Take to Hike St Marks Summit
I recommend allowing for 4-5 hours to hike to Saint Marks Summit and extra time if you plan on doing Bowen Lookout as a side trip.
🌞 Best Time to Hike Saint Marks Summit
The best time of the year to hike to St Marks Summit is definitely during Summer early Fall or late Spring. If you choose to hike in Summer, be prepared for the crowds or try to go on a weekday as St Marks is a popular hike. We went in August on a Monday at sunset and there was only a handful of other people there. You should do the hike on a clear day so that your view of Howe Sound is unobstructed.
The best time of the day to hike to St Marks Summit is sunrise or sunset as the golden light is absolutely gorgeous from the viewpoint.
🐶 Are Dogs Allowed on the Trail?
Dogs are allowed in Cypress Provincial Park and on the St Mark Summit trail but must be kept on a leash.
☁ St Marks Summit Weather
Make sure you check the weather before hiking. You are going to want it to be a nice clear day for the best views possible and also check whether there is any snow to know whether to bring along your micro spikes or not.
🥾 The St Marks Summit Trail Via Bowen Lookout: Description
Once you have found the trailhead, shortly after beginning the hike, the trail will open up onto a wider fire road. Turn left here and continue walking. After around 2km of hiking, you will reach the Bowen Lookout turnoff. You can choose to do this portion of the hike on the way or the way back which will add 1.7km onto your hike. Bowen Lookout also offers great views and we will talk more about this section of the hike later on in this guide.
The trail continues with lots of switchbacks, climbing steadily uphill, however with a pretty well maintained path. Eventually, the maintained trail ends, and you will begin navigating the classic BC roots and mud up through the forest. Be extra careful to follow the markers on this section of the hike, as you can easily lose sight of the trail and become disorientated.
The last section of the trail takes you over a large amount of mud on some wooden planks. This was where the mosquitoes became especially bad when we went in late July. Remember to bring your bug spray!
After the mud, climb up the rocks to your left and you will finally reach the first incredible viewpoint! You can then backtrack back onto the trail and keep walking until you reach the second viewpoint. This is where all of our photos of us on the rocks are from and where we stayed to watch the sunset.
Bowen Lookout as a side trip
The Bowen Lookout Hike is 4km return with 110m elevation and also starts from the Cypress Mountain Ski Area. It is a much shorter hike than St Marks Summit and will only take you around 1.5hr return. Rather than doing Bowen Lookout as a separate hike, you can also choose to do it as a side trip on the way up to or back from St Marks Summit.
If you decide to check out Bowen Lookout on the way to or from St Marks Summit, it will add on approximately 1.7km to your hike.
If you would prefer to hike to Bowen Lookout another time, it is the perfect small hike for Winter!
What to wear hiking in Vancouver
Hiking Boots – Hiking boots are great for muddy, slippery hikes which is what waterfall hikes usually are, especially during Winter or Spring. Kerry’s loves the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Our favourite hiking socks are Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew Socks and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are from Icebreaker!
Fleece – Our favourite fleeces are the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip (Kerry’s) and a Mac Pac Fleece from Australia (Dave’s).
Puffer Jacket – Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourites are the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket and Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
Rain Jacket – We bring our raincoats along on all of our hikes, because you know.. just in case!
Beanie – While the weather is still cold, we still bring along our beanies on our hikes. Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
Kerry’s Leggings – Kerry wears leggings on every hike and her favourites are the Lululemon Align pant.
Day Backpack – Our favourite backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack.
Your Camera Gear! We never go anywhere without ours!
Tips for Hiking to St Marks Summit at Sunset
- Bring a headlight for hiking back in the dark. Our headlights are from Nitecore and they are great! Check them out HERE
- Bring bug spray – We hiked this trail at sunset in late July when there was still some late snow melt and the mosquitoes were awful the whole way up.
- Make sure you park outside the parking lot gate as this gets locked at 9pm and your car will get locked in. You will see this sign next to the gate right before you enter the carpark. There will also probably be a few cars parked on the side of the road to your left. This is the best place to park for a sunset hike in Cypress Provincial Park.
- Be bear aware. There are black bears and mountain lions in Cypress Provincial Park and so you should carry bear spray with you on all hikes and make sure you are aware of what to do in the scenario that you come across a bear or mountain lion. For more information on bear safety, check out this website.
Can I camp on Cypress Mountain?
Camping is permitted on Cypress Mountain, however there are no facilities and no official sites at Saint Marks Summit. There is space for one or two tents near the lookout so if you are going on a weekend, you should get there nice and early to make sure you get a spot.
Remember to Leave No Trace when hiking or camping!
🌲 Leave No Trace
The 7 Leave No Trace principles are important to be aware of to help keep places like Saint Marls Summit beautiful. Nature is there for us to enjoy but also respect and leave the way we found it but as well as respecting nature, we should also be respecting and treating each other with nothing but kindness. Pack out what you bring in and keep our hiking trails beautiful. Take only photos! You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.
❄ Can I hike or Snow Shoe to St Marks Summit in Winter?
You can do the Saint Marks Summit hike in Winter, however you will need snow shoes. If you do not have your own, you can rent a pair of snow shoes from Cypress Mountain Hollyburn Nordic Centre. If you decide to do this hike in Winter, make sure you wear appropriate Winter clothing (Waterproof boots, pants and a raincoat or similar).
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💭 Our Thoughts
In our opinion Saint Marks Summit is one of the best sunset hikes in Vancouver! We also think it would be a great spot to camp another time, however there isn’t all that much space at the top for more than one or two tents.
Vancouver has loads of awesome sunset hikes with amazing views. Some of our other favourite sunset hikes near Vancouver are Tunnel Bluffs, Murrin Loop Trail and Dog Mountain which we have full hiking guides on. There’s nothing better than the satisfaction of hiking to the top of a viewpoint and watching the magic of a sunset.
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