Whistler Blog

Top 5 Squamish Hiking Trails

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Squamish is known for its outdoor activities, everything from rock climbing, to mountain biking, from kite surfing, to kayaking. However, Squamish’s hiking is often ignored in plethora of other outdoor activities, despite the beauty of the trails and the ocean views from the tops of the mountains. Whether you’re an experienced, veteran hiker, or a novice, Squamish has a number of hikes that will get you enjoying BC’s best.

  1. Mamquam River Trails (easy)

Time: 1-2 hrs

Distance: 1-4 km

Looking for a relaxing day hike through the forest? Mamquam River is home to 4 kilometers of trails through the Salmon Spawning Channels, located near the Squamish Golf and Country Club. Every fall, the channels are filled with Coho and Steelhead making the journey from the Pacific Ocean to spawn.

These easy trails give you immediate access to the best of BC nature, from forest to fish. The trails intersect and lead you through scenic forest, giving you the opportunity to explore the area and take in the lush greenery around you. There are also plenty of opportunities to meander from the trails to the shores of the Mamquam River and take a peek at the salmon swimming by.

  1. Stawamus Chief (intermediate)

Time: 2 – 4 hrs

Distance: 7.2 km

Elevation Gain: 550m

This is one of the most well-known hikes in Squamish. Often known as the Squamish chief, this butt-buster may be gruelling, but the views are more than worth it. This hike is challenging but not too long; most of the trail is made up of steep stairs and ladders. There are some parts toward the end that require hikers to climb boulders using metal chains. However, don’t let that deter you!

It’s one of the most popular day hikes in all of BC because it rewards hikers with unobstructed views of Squamish, Howe Sound and the surrounding coastal mountains. You can expect to reach the First Peak, the lowest and most popular summit, within about an hour to an hour and a half. The total return distance is 4km.

  1. Sea to Summit Trail (intermediate)

Time: 4- 5 hrs one way

Distance: 9 km

Elevation gain: 949m

Another steep one, the Sea to Summit Trail is similar to the Stawamus Chief but will take longer to complete. It begins at the bottom of the Sea To Sky Gondola (lazy hikers may opt for a ride up the mountain instead), and finishes at the lodge atop the mountain. This hike is less busy than the Chief and will lead you through some ideal photo-op spots, with sweeping views of Howe Sound and Shannon Falls.

The best part about the Sea to Summit Trail is the refreshments at the top and a relaxing gondola ride down. Just don’t forget your wallet!

  1. Elfin Lakes (intermediate)

Time: 5 – 8 hrs

Distance: 20.5 km

Elevation Gain: 848m

Elfin Lakes, accessible for veteran hikers and newbies alike, is your Instagram-worthy alpine hike. It’s recommended that hikers combine their trek with a night of camping to make the most of this hiking trail. Once past the red heather warming hut at 5 kilometers in, you’ll be struck by the stunning views of Mount Garibaldi and Elfin Lakes. This world class hiking destination has tent pads for rent, or a fully equipped hut for those of us who are less inclined to carry in gear! This trail is open year-round and is also accessible by bike and snowshoe.

  1. High Falls Creek (advanced)

Time: 4-5 hrs

Distance: 11 km

Elevation Gain: 650m

High Falls Creek is one of the most scenic hikes in Squamish, serving up views of the valley and Tantalus Range. However, only experienced, confident hikers should take this one on. High Falls Creek is a steep hike, with challenging bits requiring chains to help hikers along. The hike is best done on sunny, dry days, as the route can be quite dangerous when wet or icy.

Although the trail is well marked in some spots, other parts may require route-finding, especially in the summer months, when the undergrowth has expanded.