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Hail to the Chief: one of the Sea-to-Sky corridor’s most-popular hikes

Fresh Air: The Stawamus Chief is a popular hike along the Sea-to-Sky corridor that offers sweeping views of Howe Sound and surrounds

The Stawamus Chief, that massive 700-metre slab of granite looming large over the town of Squamish, used to be something I simply drove past while enroute to Whistler.

But when my son was born eight years ago I started occasionally hiking it - first with my son on my back, then, as he older, with him at my side.

It’s a popular route - not as busy as the Grouse Grind, but certainly the most-crowded hike accessed via the Sea-to-Sky highway, particularly on summer weekends.

There are three summits that all offer sweeping views of Howe Sound, Squamish and surrounding mountains. I’ve only ever done the First (South) Peak, but the route to both the Second (Centre) and Third (North) Peaks starts at the same spot near the viewpoint for Shannon Falls.

It’s a steady climb with lots of stairs leading up to the fork for the three peaks. Once you arrive at the junction, keep left for First Peak. The path gets steeper and you’ll soon reach some ladders and chains that will help you navigate the steeper granite sections of the climb.

If you’re keen to do the other peaks, you’ll have to go back to the junction before making your way to the Second and Third peaks, respectively. All three peaks are great spots for lunch. Just make sure that, if you’re going to try for all three, you leave yourself plenty of daylight. You’ll need about five hours to tick-off all three - and at least three hours to do the South Peak only. Then, of course, time to get down.  

And don’t forget your camera - the views from the top are spectacular.


Difficulty: Intermediate

Time: 6 hours return (more if doing all three peaks)

Distance: 7 kilometres (According to Squamish Tourism)

Elevation gain: 600 metres

HOW TO GET THERE (About an hour from Vancouver)

Take Highway 99 (Sea to Sky) north toward Squamish. Park in the Shannon Falls parking lot. Remember: don’t leave valuables in your car.