Can’t Wait to Hike British Columbia’s Stawamus Chief Again!

“We have to hike to the top of that!”           “Why!?”               “Because it’s there!”

Peak One Stawamus Chief
This is the view from the top of peak one, looking out over the town of Squamish.

In British Columbia’s Sea to Sky Corridor, at the top of Howe Sound, towers The Chief, the Stawamus Chief. It is North America’s largest granite monolith, second largest in the whole world. Its name comes from the First Nation village at the north end of the Squamish river.

Be ready for the stair climb of your life.

Bring water.

Wear good hiking shoes.

50,000 hikers and 25,000 climbers make their way up every year. They seek the three peaks above that provide breathtaking views (after the breathtaking climb!).


It is a 700-meter gain in about 4 kilometers; that’s 2,000 feet in about 2-3 hours. Various sources report slight variations in meters or feet, depending on the measurement from sea level, the town of Squamish, or the trailhead, but it’s a skyscraper nonetheless.

Staircase Stawamus Chief
It’s just “up” the whole hike; there are no plateaus except the brief landings in the staircases. Stairs of wood, stairs of roots from the forest that manage to grow on a rock, and stairs of stone. When it becomes too steep for stairs, there are ladders to go completely vertical, and chains to pull (and later lower) yourself to the final summit.


Foot traffic from the yearly 50,000 hikers has obscured some parts of the dirt trail. In other places, the roots of the trees are bare and cover the ground like webs of veins. Trees next to steps, turns, and steep parts are worn to a smooth shine by the thousands of hands that have supported themselves on the way up or down.Stawamus Chief Roots


At the top, people rested and picnicked while taking in the view. Warnings to stay clear from the many dangerous drop offs are recognized quickly; it’s just rock summit and then the very far away Howe Sound waters and the town of Squamish far below.

Stuwamus Chief Granite Wall

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