Stawamus Chief Trail
|Stawamus Chief Trail|
BC Parks 3D Trail Map. They refer to the trail as the Chief Peaks Trail.
|Access||Chief Parking Lot|
The Stawamus Chief Trail is a 2.7km trail that ascends 600m to the first peak of the Chief. The trail has numerous names; Backside Trail of the Chief, Backside Chief Trail, Chief Peaks Trail. It is an ideal destination if you are interested in a short hike that can be done in a morning. Although not nearly as popular as the Grouse Grind, this trail is quite busy. Go early in the morning or on a weekday to avoid the worst crowds. If you're really fit, it makes a nice trail run. It's worthwhile for the beautiful view of Howe Sound at the top and to be able to say that you've "climbed" the Chief.
All trails can be accessed through the Chief campground. The turn-off is located just south of Squamish on highway 99. You can park in the climber's parking lot (right by the highway) and walk all the way through the campground to the stairs at the top of the big boulder at the back. Alternatively, the trail system can be accessed via Shannon Falls or the Sea to Sky Gondola. At Shannon Falls, go past the falls heading in a northwesterly direction, following the signs to the Chief.
The parking lot at the Chief is free but the parking lot at Shannon Falls is not. The Sea to Sky Gondola lot is also free but only for a maximum of 3 hours. They have an overflow free all day lot called the "Darrell Bay Free Parking Area" which is immediately to the west of the highway at the intersection for Shannon Falls Park.
This trail leads up to the first peak however, there are three peaks. The first and second peaks are very popular. The third is visited a little less. The first and second can be reached in under two hours.
The trail system also gives access to the Slhanay. This trail is a little less well marked. The backside trail to the Slhanay takes you to the true summit of the Slhanay, this is considerably higher and east of the 'summit' of the Slhanay that is reached by the popular climbing routes. The Backside Trail eventually connects to the Shannon Ck FSR which can be followed back to the highway. Circumnavigating the Chief this way makes for about a 15km hike.