It’s finally starting to feel like summer in Vancouver! We kicked off our hiking season with a hike to the iconic Stawamus Chief in Squamish. The Chief is definitely not a hidden gem, as many of my non-outdoorsy friends have even hiked the first peak. However, there are two more easily-accessible peaks that are much less travelled. Our plan was to hike from Shannon Falls* to the main Chief Peaks Trail, then veering off to the third peak followed by the second peak and looping back to the main trail. If you do this hike, make sure you keep a map handy with you.
I was hoping to avoid the crowds by hiking on a weekday, but even then the main trail was packed. However, Rey didn’t seem to mind as she was getting all the love from passer-byes because she looked so adorable in her new bandana!
Once we reached the junction to the trail that leads to the third peak, we were met with tranquility. Maybe there is a reason there weren’t many people taking this route because it was pretty steep! The beginning of the turn off lulled you into false security while the second half required using hands to help pull yourself up steep steps and rocks. Luckily for us, this was no Eaton Lake.
After hiking for a couple of hours while thinking to ourselves why we didn’t do more squats over the winter, we finally reached the smooth rock surface of the third peak. And boy, were the views ever worth it. We found a nice quiet spot overlooking the first two peaks and Howe Sound in the distance to enjoy a small snack and photoshoot.
We then packed up to head to the second peak. The views here were just as amazing! I can’t decide which peak had the better views. While the third peak offered an added sense of isolation being surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges, the second peak had an unreal bird’s eye view of the city of Squamish.
It was time to head down and we were planning on completing the loop to meet back up with the main trail. However, we were met with a bit of a hiccup in our plan and our long-awaited dinner would have to wait. Welcoming us back to the main trail from the smooth rocks of the second peak was a very steep section that required us to climb down a ladder. Easy for us to climb down the ladder, but not so much for Rey. We tried to put her into our backpack but alas she was too big. As Rey was looking pretty tired already, we didn’t want to risk her hurting herself by finding her way down the steep rock into the narrow landing area.
We ended up deciding to loop all the way back, back-tracking the way we came. As we were climbing up to the third peak, I had even said how glad I was that we would not need to descend back this way, not realizing I was foreshadowing our misfortune at the time. Wishing I had brought my trekking poles with me, we eventually made our way back down to the parking lot. Despite how much my knees were sore, this is a hike I would do time and time again.
*Note: It looks like the Lower Shannon Falls trail was re-routed. Instead of merging part way up the Chief Peaks Trail, Lower Shannon Falls now goes to the parking lot of the Sea to Sky Gondola, and pretty much hugs the parking lot until you get to the base of the Chief Peaks Trail. We saw an old sign part way up the Chief Peaks Trail telling us to turn at a certain point to get back on the Lower Shannon Falls trail, but looks like the route was washed out or taken down as we couldn’t cross the creek.
Hikers: Josie Chow, Nickolai Zarchukoff and Rey
Camera Specs: Canon 70d body + Canon 50mm f/1.4 and Sigma 10-20mm f/4
Beautiful bandana courtesy of Woolly Head!