Hiking The Stawamus Chief Trail In Squamish British Columbia, Canada

General Information

Trail head grid: 49.6786507, -123.1544098

First Peak grid: 49.6827637, -123.1441554

Length To Peak 1: 3.8Miles

All three Peaks: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

We’re visiting friends in Squamish BC and enjoying the company, weather and scenery. The “Chief” is on the mist do hike list in Squamish, so off I went to check it out.

There are three peaks to the Chief, but most people only go to peak one. The primary trail is well defined and crowded. It’s big stairs made from either wood or rock most of the way up. There are some ladder and chain sections, which add to the fun.

For my excursion, I chose to split from the main trail and head to Peak 3 first. As soon as I split off of the main trail I was delighted to see almost no people and a much less worn trail.

Unlike the primary trail which had families, tourists and locals all clustered in small traffic jams, the trail to peak three left me mostly alone with only a handful of passerbyers. (one guy ran up and by me… ran… I say again..ran).

I was told that Peak 3 is less popular and I saw why. It’s not a bad peak, it just doesn’t have the view like the other peaks. The top is surrounded by small trees, so while the views are spectacular, they are not as open or expansive as peak 1 and 2.

Peak 2

I moved from peak 3 to peak 2. Peak 2 has a definitive cliff face and an amazing view of the Squamish Valley. It also began to get more crowded on peak 2.

Moving To Peak 1

Moving from Peak 2 To Peak 1 was a bit slower, there was a few easy downclimbs. I got to a place where my map said there was a trail to get to Peak 1. At this point I’m looking up a 50 or so foot cliff that has a rebar ladder as the “trail”. There is also a DANGER SIGN NEXT to the rebar ladder indicating that this is not part of the “official” trail system.

I could have gone back down to where I had originally split to head to peak 3, but I went ahead and climbed up that rebar ladder. My friend told me there would be ladders ( I had no seen any others up to that point) so I figured that these Squamish people must be a bit braver and adventury than normal folks. Up I went.

At the top, I wandered for a bit, as this was only a ledge that is still 50-100 feet below the real top. The challenge was that I could hear people chatting, even see them, but no trail access. I slinked around the ledge on either side until, on one side I was stopped by a cliff… and on the other side the trail dwindled down to nothing ending in the other cliff.

Disappointed, I made my way back to the rebar ladder thinking I would have to downclimb and take the “normal” trail up. Just about that time a couple topped out on the rebar ladder and while this was their firs time there they were able to identify a trail I had not seen. It was another rebar ladder that runs about 45 degrees to the cliff….

I followed them to the top. The actual top of peak 1.

Definitely worth the effort! The view from the top is incredible. There was a nice breeze and the clouds protected us from direct sun.

I had a snack, took a few pictures and headed down. “The right way”.

Going down was busy. Many spots only allow for one person to pass in one direction so there are definitely slow spots.
I found the ladders that my friends were actually talking about – really nice safe ladders with little exposure.

This was a fun local hike with a lot of vertical in a short time.