Towering high above the town of Squamish, the chief is a popular hiking destination that offers incredible views of the town itself and the sprawling expanse of the Howe Sound .
2-3 hours for one peak
Elevation gain: 600 metres
Rating: Short but steep!
Car required: Yes
Season: March to November
Camping available at designated campsite
Views of the Sea to Sky from the first peak.
The Chief is the second largest granite monolith in the world! Despite being short, there are challenging sections, such as rope assisted-scrambling. So whilst you don't have to be hugely physically fit, hiking experience and common sense are essential. Determination is key - this trail goes up, up and up. The Chief enjoys a fairly long hiking season as it doesn't accumulate as much snow as its neighbouring mountains. This means that the summit is usually free of snow in the early spring, making this a great warm-up hike for the season ahead. You'll find the trail signposted and located off Highway 99 just south of Squamish and just North of Shannon Falls. To get there, turn off Highway 99 at either Shannon Falls or Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and follow signs to the trailhead.
The trail has 3 peaks, and most people tend to just do one per day. If you're feeling like an intense workout, you could certainly attempt all three! The Chief trail is very direct, it stairs with and climbs, climbs, climbs for the entire distance.
The First Peak is closest of the three in terms of distance from the parking lot, it is also the more heavily trafficked as it offers the best views of Howe Sound.
The Second Peak is the largest of the three, and is definitely worth attempting! Its expansive summit has an endless amount of viewpoints that offer differing panoramic views of Howe Sound, Squamish and Garibaldi Provincial Park.
The Third Peak is the highest of the three summits, also offering endless, expansive views. On the way from Second Peak, you will pass over the North Gully, a very cool spot that has sheer cliff walls a 60-metre gap in between.
Heading down from the Second Peak.
Keep a cautious mind during the whole hike as there are plenty of slippery roots and rocks to trip on - the wooden stairs get very slick when wet! Likewise, when you reach the summits, they are exposed slabs of rock with extremely steep drop offs either side. Be sure to use the bathroom before you start as there are no facilities on the trail. When it’s wet, the rock surface of the summit is slippery, so be extra careful and keep your distance from the edges to avoid drops of hundreds of feet. Bring lots of water and layers as weather up here can change fast! Afterwards, head to Mags 99 or Wigan Pier for dinner. If you need any extra tips for hiking preparation, check out our Hiking 101 page.