NTS Map: 92G11. The Stawamus Chief near Squamish BC has 3 peaks, 1st (or South), 2nd (or Centre) and 3rd (or North).
The 1st is lowest (approx 600 m), easiest and most popular. Avoid it, especially on weekends, due to the high (people) traffic.
My preferred is Peaks 2 and 3, with an additional bonus that they are linked, and consequently you can do a circuit and hike both in 1 trip. The preferred route is to go up to Peak 3 first, enjoy the view and have lunch there, and then back via Peak 2.
When crossing over from 3rd to 2nd, make sure you take a look down the gorge between the 2 peaks (careful, don't go too close, it's probably 500 m down if you miss the first step).
Drive hway 99 north from Vancouver to Shannon Falls (approx 45 minutes). You can park and pay ($3) at Shannon Falls Prov Park, and get a close-up look at the falls, 3rd highest in BC. Or, drive 1.2 kms north from the traffic light at Shannon Falls and park in the unmarked parking lot on the right (east) side of the hway. You'll note a trail leading out from the northeast corner of this parking lot. Head up that trail. It's shorter than the trail from Shannon Falls PP.
At approx the 300 m elevation level, you'll see signs for various trails. Follow the trail for 3rd Peak. There'll be some easy fairly flat parts, but also some quite steep rough sections. Be prepared.
The GPS track has the trail via the 2nd peak, because the tree cover along the 3rd peak trail prevented recording the track along that trail. However, it does show the trail from Peak 3 to Peak 2, which can be confusing, and shows most of the trail back down to Shannon Falls PP parking lot.
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Posted By: L&L
- Mon Sep 02 18:16:40 UTC 2013
UpsideA couple of good scrambling sections where you really feel like you are working out. Nice view of 1st and 2nd peaks up top and lots of room at summit. DownsideI get creeped out going thru a couple areas where there are large rocks on top of each other in such a way that create dark holes between them. I am quite sure these naturally created niches house animals that are watching me. It smells strongly around these areas and me and my dog run past as fast as possible! CommentI love the Chief but have to start out earlier and earlier; and spend less time lingering on the peak, because it gets so busy. The big log jam starts at the point of descent where the fork that splits the routes to peaks 1 & 2/peak 3 is marked with a signpost. Most people head left, so going up isn't a problem but coming down, once you pass this point, you are swimming against the tide of everyone who is starting out regardless of which peak is their destination. I'm all for fellow hikers enjoying this great trek. However many non or novice hikers make it so annoying! Standing in clumps talking, taking up the whole trail, or ascending on their left instead of their right; girls in sandals; people "helping" their 5 year olds up while taking up all available space. The conga line of people going up as I am descending, is the worst part of the hike. Perhaps the gondola, which I was initially opposed to, will be a benefit as people who felt they shold try hiking the Chief, will instead take the gondola as an option better suited to their abilities; thus thinning out the crowds of non hikers on the actual trail.
Posted By: L&L
- Thu Nov 01 03:26:04 UTC 2012
QuestionAnyone know conditions right now? Too slippy, or doable? I usually do 3rd peak and then go to 2nd peak, in that order but have never gone this late in the Fall. (So I'm not a newbie)ANSWERS are in this forum: The Chief Third Peak
Posted By: desquared
- Tue Aug 28 19:31:52 UTC 2012
CommentI find the first peak excellent, especially if you do it outside of the weekend, it can be busy. But as one who brings hist kids (17 and 15) along, as well as dog (1/2 lab 1/2 mountain goat), I found it lovely. Amazing view at the top, keep your dog on a leash. The first peak can be done with a dog though you are going to have to coax him on a couple of tricky ladder sections. Also room at the top for a little bouldering even without ropes (though there are some anchors too)
Tried to do third peak and unfortunately got confused and ending up cutting back to north approach of 2nd peak. View is excellent but very tricky. last 100 m to the peak is VERY challenging...this is NOT doable with a dog (north approach). Do not trust the ropes and put too much weight. yesterday, one half of top anchored rope, sheath completely frayed and 3 strands exposed. Only a matter of time it will break. Climb as if there was no rope with rope as backup safety.
Posted By: lhadley91
- Mon Jun 25 20:03:30 UTC 2012
Does anyone have any information of the undeveloped trail that stems from the third peak? My friends and I have tried to follow it twice; the first time getting lost because the markers are so far apart, and the second time we follow it for 4 hours before having to turn back?
It seems to be some sort of overgrown atv road and you regularly come across lumber dumps of rotting chopped trees.
Anyway, any idea where it ends up? Or why it's there?
LanceANSWERS are in this forum: Undeveloped trail?
Posted By: goaroundglobe
- Fri Jun 10 04:09:37 UTC 2011
UpsideGood workout, beautiful views from the top, not too far from the city! DownsideToo many people before reaching junction to 2nd and 3rd peaks. CommentThis is our favorite hike, which we do every year. Going to the first peak is always busy but if you are willing to spend just a little more time, you should definitely go to 3rd peak. it is taller then 1st and 2nd, you have a flattened area in the middle of the hike to catch your breath, and there's way less people going to the 3rd peak. If you still feel you have to check out 2nd peak, there's a connecting trail between 3rd and 2nd peaks! If you want to see more pictures, visit us on goaroundglobe.com!
Posted By: ko0ty
- Mon May 17 19:06:27 UTC 2010
CommentThe way up the Chief was actually fun and not as intense as The Grouse Grind; as newbie hikers, my boyfriend and I got to the 3rd peak in less than 2 hours with little rest. It was an awesome workout and got our heart rate going but nothing you can't push through. Stopped at the second and third peaks for pictures and lunch; relaxing, a nice breeze and spectacular views. We went down the Squaw Trail instead and I think it took me longer to get down than up because my knees and ankles were in a lot of pain (weak joints) halfway down.
Next time, I think we are going to go up the Squaw Trail (seemed more fun and challenging) and down The Chief since it connects between the 2nd and 3rd peaks. There is also a way to connect the Squaw Trail near the bottom of The Chief... just look out for signs.
We went on a Sunday in mid-May and there weren't too many people on the trails. We only saw 4 other people at the 3rd peak. Only encountered traffic on the way down when the Squaw Trail finally merged back with The Chief.
Posted By: jesseiscanadian
- Fri May 07 22:12:17 UTC 2010
Upside-Easy access -Great views -well marked trails Downside-lots of people on weekends -only the third peak is pet friendly (unless you like to carry up and down a ladder) CommentWe did the third and second peak last weekend, and will be doing it again tomorrow with some first timers. Trails are in great shape and are a great way to warm up for bigger adventures later in the season. If coming from Vancouver don't forget to stop at the Mountain woMans bus in Britannia beach for a poutine afterwards... :)
Posted By: briandel
- Thu Feb 04 18:56:10 UTC 2010
CommentAnybody know what conditions are like? Can it be hiked this time of year?
Posted By: briandel
- Thu Feb 04 18:53:33 UTC 2010
QuestionIs the trail in any condition to hike right now? What are conditions like at the peak?ANSWERS are in this forum: condition?
Posted By: Isha
- Wed Jul 01 20:18:40 UTC 2009
UpsideGreat, Great, Great trail. Thanks to the author for an advice of going to the 3rd peak, then 2nd. It is the best rout to my taste. It is way easier and more interesting descending with all the views around you. Downsidedeservedly very popular trail attracts many people . Start earlier to be ahead of big crowd on stairs. CommentThe Must go trail!
Posted By: jeffvm
- Sun Jun 14 00:52:06 UTC 2009
UpsideWhat a view! Second peak is pretty large, so you can find plenty of private spots to relax and enjoy the scenery. There is also a nice viewpoint of the valley behind the peak midway up the trail. A natural rest area. DownsideBusy. Busy. Busy. A lot of passing for one hike. The cables and ladders up to the Second Peak are an annoying bottleneck, especially when people have to carry dogs up. Or when fraidy-cats take forever going up the ladder. There! I said it. CommentStarted at Shannon Falls, which are worth seeing too. Parking is $5, don't you forget.
The forest on the backside of the Chief isn't much to speak of. Not much undergrowth, kind of blah. But it's all the viewpoints along the way, and the peaks, that definately make this hike worth it. We hiked the Second Peak. On the way down my friend and I went up to the First Peak. We took the ladder that is near the base of the first cable heading up to the Second Peak. This shortcut isn't shown on the map, but it's there. Don't take kids up this way though.
The hike took 5 hours to and from the Shannon Falls parking lot.
Posted By: dawnh
- Sat May 30 04:04:27 UTC 2009
Upsidegorgeous views at the top, great place to have lunch Downsidecoming down is hard on the knees, next hike like this I will use a knee brace. Crowds started about 1/2 way down. CommentWasn't sure what to expect, but always wanted to do this hike. Great day, started hiking around noon, alot of people at bottom but within 10min the crowd diminished. Took the 3rd peak route all the way to the top. Took about 1hr 20min with few stops. Next time will try the route to the second peak and start earlier to beat the crowds on the descent.
Posted By: Centurion
- Mon Apr 27 14:44:06 UTC 2009
UpsideBeautiful views, no bugs, shannon falls is gorgeous, lots of photo opportunities, ladders and climbing sections make the hike interesting and fresh. DownsideVery crowded. Hard on the knees on the way down. Reminds me of the Grouse Grind, only a little harder. CommentI did the Chief and thought it was overall a pretty good hike. It's best described as a more strenuous Grouse Grind, for the terrain except for a few ladder and climbing sections is identical. The views from the top are gorgeous and epic, and it was a nice reward for playing stairmaster for 2 hours. The trail itself is very developed with stairs, rails, and markers all over the place. It seemed more of a "touristy hike" then a pure backpack adventure. Nonetheless, it was fun and the views are definitely worth the trip. For a 4 hour hike, you'd be crazy not to do it! I wouldn't recommend doing this hike if you have bad knees or pets. Coming down is very hard on the legs, and the ladder and chain sections are no go for anything over a paris hilton size dog.
Fun hike! Easy hike. I'm not sure why the review put it under difficult-- that's totally untrue. It's short, sweet, and worth 4 hours of your day.
Posted By: alvic3
- Wed Apr 23 00:03:37 UTC 2008
QuestionI'm relatively new to hiking and have only a few day hikes in the middle of the summer under my belt.
I'm just finishing up my university year and I plan to do a lot of hiking around the lower mainland, starting at the beginning of May. I'm wondering what trail conditions will be like at this time and what to expect. Are most trails still quite wet at this time? Snow even maybe at higher altitudes?
Thanks!ANSWERS are in this forum: Trail Conditions?
Posted By: vpigeon
- Mon Jun 04 05:47:20 UTC 2007
CommentAs of May 2007, parking lot 1.2 kms north of the traffic lights no longer exists due to Hway 99 construction. Go 1.4 kms north of the traffic lights, turn right, and head up to Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. You'll see 2 free day use parking lots. Park there, and head east through the campground to the trailhead. You'll also save approx 1 km of base level hiking (although the trail from Shannon Falls is quite beautiful).
Newer GPS models, such as GPS Map 60, get excellent satellite reception, even through the heavy tree cover.
Posted By: vpigeon
- Wed May 24 05:26:56 UTC 2006
UpsideA good cardio with great destinations and great views DownsideUsual west coast rough trail and poor reception for GPSr. CommentDid this trail again on Sunday May 21, 2006. Got much better GPS data than the first time, although lost reception on the way down from 2nd peak. Fortunately, where I lost satellite reception, the trail is much better and clearly marked. Data on way up via Third Peak trail is good. That's also more important, as that trail is less developed, rougher and less well marked.
Avoid the pay parking lot at Shannon Falls, drive 1.2 kms north from the traffic lights and park there, or circle a little farther up to the Shannon Falls campsite parking area (if there's parking available).
Head up the trail, and where the junctions start, keep following the trail markers for "Third Peak" (see photos).
Go first to Third Peak, have lunch there, log in the geocache (www.geocaching.com), and then head to Second Peak (follow the signs). Check out the 400-500 m deep canyon between peaks 2 and 3. Log in at the cache on Second Peak, and then head down the Second Peak trail. It has its exciting moments (ladders, chains, one-person width gulleys, very steep sections, etc...), but still safer than trying to go down the Third Peak trail.