The heritage of the Sea to Sky Trail can be traced back to the historic travel and trade route of the Coast Salish and Interior Salish First Nations. These peoples would use the Sea to Sky corridor as a means of access between the Coast and the Interior.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s European settlement expanded both on the Coast and into the Interior, as pioneers ventured in pursuit of gold and the expansion of ranches. It was at this time, the young province of British Columbia undertook their largest capital project to date, a cattle trail for ranchers around Lillooet to transport their cattle to the Vancouver markets. The trail proved too rigorous for the cattle, so the route was abandoned.But the idea of traveling through the Sea to Sky corridor persisted, eventually leading to the development first of gravel roads and railways, and then of highways and airports.
In 1991, the concept of the Sea to Sky Trail was first conceived by trail visionaries Ross Kirkwood and Mike Manheim. Their vision was of a multi-user trail connecting the communities from D’Arcy all the way to Squamish. Over time, the idea was adopted, and the Sea to Sky Trail Society was formed as a volunteer organization to plan and build this extensive trail.
An elaborate project, the task proved difficult for a volunteer group with limited resources. The project was eventually taken over by then-Whistler Councillor Gordon McKeever and Whistler Parks and Recreation General Manager Keith Bennett. Support was garnered from the SLRD, the District of Squamish, the Village of Pemberton, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Sea to Sky Trail Society, with representatives from each group forming the steering team for the trail.
In 2005 the steering team became a Standing Committee of the SLRD, charged with determining the feasibility of developing a regional trail in the Sea to Sky Corridor. SLRD funding, supplemented with funding from the District of Squamish and the RMOW, was used to engage Cascade Environmental Resource Group Ltd to develop a sustainable Master Plan for the project.
With the master plan completed in 2005 and a generous $300,000 grant bestowed upon the Sea to Sky Trail by the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, the project had the necessary support and structure to move forward. This was critical in building momentum for the project.
Recently, the Sea to Sky Trail officially partnered with the Trans Canada Trail, thanks to Jim Bishop of the Trans Canada Trail Board. By adding needed funding and national exposure, this partnership allows the Sea to Sky Trail to actively pursue corporate partners and sponsors of all levels, ultimately bringing the Trail one step closer to completion and fulfilling a long awaited vision.
As awareness continues to grow and interest is expressed from other communities to be a part of the Trail, the scope of the project has expanded to eventually range from Horseshoe Bay to Lillooet.