May 18, 2017

Popular hiking trails in the Squamish area

Discover Squamish
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Stawamus Chief
Moderate   7 km   3-4 hrs

Trailhead: Follow Highway 99 to the Shannon Falls Provincial Park parking lot. From there, head up the main pathway toward the falls and turn left at the first fork to follow the Stawamus Chief Trail sign. 

One of the first landmarks you encounter entering Squamish is the vast granite profile of The Stawamus Chief. Though rock climbers opt for the vertical route to the top, hikers use a system of trails tucked around the back of the mountain. Approximately 50,000 people hike the Chief every year, with peak season times being from June to September. Getting to the top means breathtaking views of the Squamish Valley, the peaks of the Tantalus Range, Garibaldi Park and Howe Sound. For a less busy hike, try the Centre and North Summits, both of which take five hours to finish and are rated moderate. After passing the Stawamus Chief Trail sign, look for signage to the other summits.

Upper Shannon Falls
Moderate   7 km   4 hrs

Trailhead: Take Highway 99 toward Squamish, keeping an eye on the BC Parks Sign for the turnoff to Shannon Falls Provincial Park. Entering from the parking lot, walk up the main pathway in the direction of the falls. Turn left at the first fork to follow the sign for the Stawamus Chief. Where old logging equipment lines the trail, turn right at the fork and continue toward the right. There will be signs leading the way from there. 

This is B.C.’s third-highest waterfall, offering a chance to hike to where Shannon Creek begins its descent to the ground. Good hiking boots and a bit of experience is required because of steep sections that may be slippery. When you reach the top, the roaring falls plunge downward and are audible through thick forest with a gorgeous view of the creek. Take in the tranquillity while resting. The falls get their name from William Shannon, a pioneer who made bricks before World War One and also operated a Squamish Valley hop farm. 

Elfin Lakes 
Moderate   22 km   6 hrs

Trailhead: Take Highway 99 past the intersection for downtown Squamish heading toward Garibaldi Highlands. Look for the BC Parks sign for Garibaldi Park-Diamond Head marking the turnoff. Follow the road past the Squamish Golf and Country Club: It will eventually turn to gravel. The road forks to the left around eight kilometres from the highway entrance. Continuing up the gravel road for five kilometres, you will see a parking lot. Enter on foot, passing the yellow gate and follow the old access road while it slowly gains elevation. 

Garibaldi Mountain is a natural sight to behold with the best view coming from the trail to Elfin Lakes. It is a popular trail with the Diamond Head area attracting 22,000 people each year. By 20 minutes into the trail, glimpses of the Tantalus Range shine through and soon the Squamish River can be seen below. Further on, you can see the Mamquam Mountain in the distance and spot the Elfin Lakes cabins. Soon after, you will reach the two Elfin Lakes - the upper lake allows a refreshing swim. 

Alice Lake Provincial Park
Easy   Up to 6.5 km  Up to 4 hrs

Trailhead: Head towards Brackendale, north on Highway 99 and take the eastern turnoff to Alice Lake Provincial Park. 

The 4 Lakes Trail is a scenic 6.5-kilometre loop trail that meanders through moss covered forests and past Alice, Stump, Fawn and Edith lakes. The trail heads are well-marked at both junctions. During the height of summer, all four lakes can be considered swimming lakes, although Alice Lake, with all its amenities, is the most popular. 

Garibaldi Lake
Moderate   18 km   6 hrs

Trailhead: Take Highway 99 northbound past Squamish for approximately 35 kilometres and keep an eye out for a BC Parks sign for the turnoff to Garibaldi Park-Black Tusk. Just past Rubble Creek, turn right and drive three kilometres to enter the parking lot. Entrance to the trail is in the southeast corner of the upper parking lot. 

Known as a classic hike, the end of the Garibaldi Lake trail has a stunning turquoise lake surrounded by large mountains, glaciers and alpine meadows. The steep and wide walkable trail leads through a thick forest made up of Douglas fir and Hemlock along with pockets of Devil’s Club. Look for the cliff with unique, sharp ridges called the Barrier, that got it’s features after a landslide occurred in the 1880s. Keep going to the bright blue-green Garibaldi Lake with a view of Tantalus Mountain. Just beyond is Taylor Meadows with a campground for an overnight option. 

Sea to Summit
Advanced   7.5 km   3-5 hrs

Trailhead: Begin at the Darrell Bay parking lot on foot, which is south of the Sea to Sky Gondola parking lot. Then, cross Highway 99 to Shannon Falls and follow the signs to the Sea to Sky Gondola Parking lot. Moving northeast toward Stawamus Chief, walk along the connector trail leading to the Chief trail. At marker 68, look for signs for the Sea to Summit Trail. 

Dazzling views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains await at the top of the Sea to Summit Trail, which ends in the same place as the Sea to Sky Gondola. The hike is difficult — requiring fixed rope lines for assistance and specific sections do not recommend downhill travel. But, do not fear. Once at the top there is a patio with a stunning view to enjoy a cold beverage and snack before heading down on the gondola. There is a cost for the gondola with an additional charge for dogs. 

Newport Beach
Easy   1-3 km   1 hr

Trailhead: Start in downtown Squamish and head west on Cleveland Avenue to the end of the road past Howe Sound Brewing. Turn left on Vancouver Street then right at the Yacht Club and follow the signs to the beach.

Squamish’s sandy shore oceanfront, Newport Beach, offers sea animal sightings like dolphins and whales. You can stop on the strip for coffee at a local café and head toward one of two walking trails accessed from the same point: Newport Beach Trail and Waterfront Trail, as well as Estuary Loop, which is accessed near Howe Sound Brewing. The trails are great for viewing the picturesque landscape of Squamish minus the challenging hike. The Squamish Estuary Trail shows some of the best views of Stawamus Chief and natural habitat for hundreds of species of birds. 

Levette Lake Loop
Easy / Moderate   11 km  5 hrs

Trailhead: Head northbound on Highway 99, passing Brackendale, then turn left at the exit leading to Cheekye. Follow the Squamish Valley Road through Cheekye past the Sunwolf Outdoor Centre and then over the bridge. When the road forks, turn right and follow Paradise Valley Road to the sign for the North Vancouver Outdoor School. There, turn left at the opposite road and drive one kilometre to the next fork in the road, marked by an Evans Lake Forest Camp sign. Parking is off the road with small pullouts. The path on the right leads uphill into the luscious trees. 

This trail is perfect for anyone wanting breath-taking views in a relatively remote location for a few hours of easy hiking. All along Levette Lake Loop, you can glimpse spectacular views of the Tantalus Range, Garibaldi and the Squamish River Valley. At the warm lake, you can soak your feet and eat some lunch. Be sure to stop and take in the silence – only interrupted by a trickle of a waterfall in the distance and the sounds of the Squamish River below. 

High Falls Creek Moderate   7-12 km  4-5 hrs

Trailhead: Take Highway 99 northbound past Brackendale to the very last intersection before the road continues to Whistler and turn left toward Cheekye. Stay left on Squamish Valley Road crossing the bridge over Cheekye River. From there, 22 kilometres away you will pass the powerhouse, quickly followed by High Falls Creek at 23 km. Gravel pullouts at the side of the creek are meant for parking. Walk across the bridge and go 25 metres up the road where you will find the High Falls Creek Trail sign. 

One of the most scenic trails in the Squamish Valley, the hike to High Falls goes from Squamish to Whistler, with brilliant sights of the Squamish River Valley and Tantalus Range. And of course, the stunning High Falls themselves. The trail is not recommended for children because it runs very close to a cliff edge at points. Hike through the old forest to plummeting falls into the canyon below. Here you can see the Squamish signature landscape with Cloudburst Mountain, Mount Dione and the Tantalus Range peaks: Pelion, Ossa and Zenith mountains. 

Brohm Lake
Intermediate   7.5 km 1-2 hrs

Trailhead: Go north on Highway 99, passing Alice Lake Provincial Park until you see a sign for Cat Lake on the right. On the left side of the highway, about 1 km north is the Brohm Lake entrance. 

 

Brohm Lake Interpretive Forest is home to one of the warmest, beautiful lakes in the corridor. Though there are over 10 kilometres of trails in the lush forest, the main trail involves looping around Brohm Lake itself. Clear signage in the parking lot point to a variety of trails. Likely you want to try the main trail first – it begins in the parking lot and is marked at the start then winds its way around the entire lake. An extremely popular day-spot, feel free to take a dip or rest along the rugged shore.


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