Stawamus Chief Peaks Trail – Squamish, BC Canada
Stawamus Chief Peaks Trail is located right outside of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway and is very popular for locals and visitors alike. There are three peaks that hikers can tackle – regardless of the peak you choose, all three routes share the same challenging climb. We decided to do the first peak which is 2.3 miles round trip there and back with a 1755 ft elevation gain. When we parked the car and noted the peak overtop us, I had a strange feeling that is where we were going to be.
We started the trail just after 9AM and the stairs up started immediately. While it was crowded at the beginning of the trail, the groups start separating quickly. After the first several flights of stairs, the energy and momentum start to dwindle as each stair feels like a herculean effort for the thighs.
The stairs then dissolve into situated rocks replicating stairs. The groups at this point were very wide apart. The trees blocked the view above to get an idea of how high we were but it was clear we still had a way to go. There was a boulder that gave a glimpse into the forrest that definitely confirmed we were making progress moving up in elevation.
A decision point finally appeared on moving on to the first or second peak. We made our left turn to start the final leg of the trip to the first peak and at this point, we were alone on the trail. It was amazing on how many people we saw at the beginning of the trail and how few remained. After a few switchbacks, an iron ladder appeared – I recalled reading about rock scrambles, rungs, and ladders on the second and third peaks but not the first one.
After an intermission to conquer the ladder, we continued on to the base of the summit to find a rock scramble. We did not get this far to not summit the peak but the remaining portion was daunting. There were rock slabs on an incline with chains and ladders to help traverse certain portions and the top park was a rock scramble to the summit.
This final part was as challenging as it sounds and probably the most difficult and technical part of a trail we have done. However, the reward was amazing – an expansive view of the entire valley with the town of Squamish below.
We finished our bottle of water before heading back down. I was certainly nervous about the rock scramble going down but I just sat down and took my time. The ladder portion was definitely more scary to go down but it was luckily not a far distance. The chain part ended up being a bit funny as I just used the rock slab as a slide and slid all the way down.
Then the rock stairs followed but the wood stairs led us to the start of the trail in what seemed like a matter of minutes. We completed the trail at 1130AM clocking us at two and a half hours. Without stopping, we hit a water bottle filling station before heading straight to the car as we were starving and could not wait to reward ourselves with tasty food in Squamish.
Doing this trail on only a granola bar and one of our 40 oz water bottles was certainly not ideal – given the distance, I really thought this would be of a similar trail to Quercus Point but Stawamus Chief Trails are definitely more challenging. The view from above is incredible though so if you still want to experience the view but cannot do this hike, I would recommend taking the Sea to Sky Gondola for a similar view of the valley.