Located about a 55-minute drive from Vancouver, Stawamus Chief is a giant piece of rock that’s great for hiking and overlooks the town of Squamish.
PARK CLOSED, BUT THEN REOPENS
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, beginning in April, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park was closed for a few weeks. As of May 14th, 2020, however, areas of the popular spot are once again open to the public.
As of May 30th, the Chief Peaks Trail and access to Peaks 1, 2 and 3 remains closed. Rock climbing and picnicking areas at the park, however, are open. The campground is open as well, as of mid-June.
For more information see the Stawamus Chief Park website.
To see other attractions that have been closed click Impact of COVID-19 on Metro Vancouver.
Squamish’s Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
Serious climbers (i.e., ones who like to scale cliffs) go up the front face of the mountain with professional climbing gear, and the more sane (but still fairly fit) climbers hike up the back.
Squamish is a 64-km (or 40-mile) drive from Vancouver halfway up the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway on the way to Whistler. The mountain itself is just past Shannon Falls and the Sea to Sky Gondola, and just before the town.
When driving by from the highway, look up at the cliffs (unless you are the driver) and look out for the specks of people making their way up the face.
The hike up the back (and easier) route is challenging, but you don’t have to be an expert to do it. You’ll need good hiking shoes, some bottled water and layers of clothing that you can peel off as you get warmer from the exercise.
Stawamus Chief is a very highly recommended mountain to hike and climb – it’s doable for anyone that is fit, it’s very well marked (and even has stairs), it’s in the heart of nature, and it’s an afternoon that you’ll always remember.
Want to enjoy the spectacular views from even higher than the top of the Stawamus Chief mountain without having to make the climb? Then check out the Sea to Sky Gondola, with adult tickets costing about $40, or $38 if you buy it online.
Camping at the Stawamus Chief
In addition to the beautiful hikes and nature, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park also offers camping opportunities. There are 52 vehicle-accessible campgrounds and 57 walk-in sites less than a 5-minute walk from the parking lot.
All camping sites are located in the heart of the forest, shaded by massive coniferous trees. The campground is well-equipped, with pit toilets, cold drinking water and storage lockers next to the cooking shelter. No campfires are permitted at the campground.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your Stawamus Chief experience.
TIP #1: If you like the outdoors and want something a lot less strenuous, other beautiful places to visit and stroll around (as opposed to the fairly serious hiking at Stawamus Chief) include Alice Lake (which is the best campground in the area) and Shannon Falls.
TIP #2: Hiking down is easier on the heart, but harder on the knees and legs. Expect to be sore the next day, unless you do this regularly. To make it easier on your knees, try to find a good walking stick or bring one with you.
TIP #3: Stawamus Chief can be a good serious climb for children from about age 10 and up, or younger if they like real challenges. It’s a long drop down the cliffs from the top, however, so keep young people close when reaching the peak. The summit lookout is large and perfectly safe – unless you go too close to the edges.
To learn more about the park visit the Stawamus Chief Park website.
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