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The Stawamus Chief is one of the most famous landmarks in Canada and the steep and exciting scrambles up the backside trail have made it one of the most popular summit hikes in British Columbia. The Chief towers high above the town of Squamish and offers scenic views of Howe Sound and several mountains in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
There are three main Chief Summits, the South (First), the Middle (Second) and the North (Third), with nearby summit scrambles to the adjacent Malamute and Papoose. Hikers can complete all three summits of the Chief in a day or just choose to do a shorter trip to the South Peak that still offers a spectacular view.
All hikes start from the Stawamus Chief parking area, or from the adjacent Shannon Falls Provincial Park. Take the wide trail that leads through the Chief campground. the major trails are well-signed so route-finding is straightforward.
Shannon Falls is a popular alternative start, taking the linking trail that joins into the Backside Trail near the top of the stairs.
The First Peak (South Summit) is the lowest, easiest and most popular summit taking approximately 1 - 1.5 hours, one-way. Distance is 4km return.
If you are up for adventure, follow the signs to the Second Peak (Middle Summit). The trail will eventually lead to steep granite slabs that have chains and a ladder permanently affixed to the rock to assist your climb. Once at the top you will be rewarded with incredible views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains. Distance is 5 km return and approximately 1.5 - 2 hours, one-way.
Impossible to miss, the Stawamus Chief is immediately south of Squamish on the East side of Highway 99. The Park entrance, parking lot, picnick area and provincial campground are located at the base of the Chief, adjacent to the highway. It is also possible to start your hike from the Shannon Falls parking area and connect into the Chief trail.