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The Chief hike is one of the most popular trails in British Columbia and also famous for climbing with just an hour drive from Vancouver. The hiking season starts in late March and lasts until the end of October. Best hiking conditions are during summer, but this is the peak season as well. August is the worst month due to the Canadian School Holidays. September is a lovely month. Continue reading to figure out all details for this breathtaking hike.
Stawamus Chief from Sea to Sky Gondola - Mt. Garibaldi in the back
This excellent trail is pretty busy during the weekends and in the summer; July and August. Spring and fall are less crowded. We hiked on a Friday morning to the peaks, and it was still busy in the afternoon. Plenty of hikers came to walk to the top of the first peak. If you like to climb this track with fewer people give the first peak a miss; it' the most frequented one. Fewer hikers continue to the second peak of the Chief and the third in the north is even less busy. The view from the first peak is already spectacular and gets even better from the second. If possible hike mid-week in spring or fall. The summer season is super busy, and campgrounds are fully booked. From the first of September onwards camping is more fun and there are plenty of campsites to choose from.
The Stawamus Chief Hike always up
Usually, you can hike from spring in March until late fall at the end of October. The Chief gets snow during winter. Anyhow, if it’s wet, the granite rocks are quite slippery. There are also slippery parts at dry weather where many hikers climbed up and down on the same route.
Parking the Car
The parking at Darrell Bay is limited in space. There are two parking lots for hikers and climbers, and it fills up soon in the morning. These two parking lots are for free. The parking for the sea to sky gondola nearby is limited for three hours. Tip: You can also start hiking from the nearby Shannon Falls if the two parking lots at Darrell Bay are full.
Squamish gets a high amount of precipitation throughout the year with its peak from October/November to February/March. Summer is the driest season of the year, but rain can occur so be prepared while hiking. From May to September the temps are pleasant, in summer around 20 °C / 68°F but can be hot as well with temps over 30 °C / 86 °F. Nights are cool even during summer with a maximum of 10 to 13 °C / 50 to 55 °F. Due to the location at Howe sound only freezing temps during the winter. There is often rainfall in Squamish while it is snowing on the Sea to Sky summit.
Where to Stay or Camp
Camping in Squamish; There are several opportunities for camping. These are our favorites:
- We enjoyed camping in the Alice Lake Provincial Park walk-in site for $ 23. There are 108 campsites, hot showers, swimming in the lake is cold but awesome, the Four Lakes Trail starts at the campground. Gets a bit windy though in the evening. Look where you pitch your tent. It’s quite popular during summer and reservations are advisable. Number 97-108 are walk-in sites. Campground Map of Alice Lake
- The Stawamus Chief campground with 47 sites, 10 $ p.p., pit toilet, and water, located close to HW 99.
- Hotels: We love the low budget Squamish Hotel during colder night temps. It's clean, quiet, washing and ice for free, and the most attentive staff.
The Tab Kak Hang Nak hiking trail becomes more popular, but due to the remote location, it's still not overrun up to hundred hikers per day. Start hiking in the morning to avoid the heat at midday. At this time of the day, only a few people are along the trail and on the top. The trail is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you would like to watch the sunrise or sunset you have to contact one of the ranger/officers otherwise you may get a fine of 1000 Baht.
The beginning of the hike
The dry season lasts from December to late April. However, showers can also occur in the dry season and especially in the rainforest. The hottest months are March and April with temps around 34°C and higher. Due to the high humidity hiking and breathing are more strenuous. The rainy season starts around late April and persists until the end of November.
Most of the day visitors come for the Painted Cliffs. However, the hike can be a bit crowded during the peak season in summer. The summit is pretty small there is just space for a few hikers. For hiking, the very best months are from December to March/April. These are the driest months. From May to October less busy. The winter months from June to August can be pretty chilly especially during the night with temps around 7°C. It depends on you if you prefer warmer temperatures and less rain or fewer people on the island. If it's too rainy the last part of the climb might be slippery. November (end of spring) most of the plants and flowers are in bloom, but it's also one of the wettest months.
The ferry is going from Triabunna to Darlington, Maria Island. This island is very popular, and the ferry was often fully booked in summer. Now the service is offered more often. It’s a big advantage to visit the island by bike.
For renting it has to be booked together with the ferry ticket. It’s a bit pricey $ 33 for adults and $ 20 for children for each bike and day. Check the ferry timetable and return fares
September-April: The ferry is going up to five times daily depending on demands and bookings.
May-August (winter): The ferry is going up to three times daily on five days. It's not going on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The ferry service is offered more often from April 2017 on. Even more day visitors are coming to the island. During summer, up to several hundred tourists visit the island each week. From now on the winter is the best time to visit Maria Island. When the ferry left the island in the afternoon, it becomes more tranquil and peaceful. If you arrive on Monday or Wednesday, you have to stay for two nights at the campground. The big advantage; the next day only a few people are on the island. Still no ferry transfer on Tuesday and Thursday. The hike itself might be not very crowded in spring, fall, and winter.
Maria Island has a mild climate without frost in winter. The average summer day temperature is around 21°C / 70°F. The driest month is January although rain showers often occur the whole year. One of the wettest months is November. May and October are a bit cooler but also worth a try. Night temps in winter and spring are below 10°C / 50°F. During our stay in November 2016, the night temperature was around 6°C / 43°F.
If you like to experience New Zealand's outstanding rainforests without any crowds this may be one of the best hikes for it. Regarding the weather check the forecast first. The trail is pretty steep, slippery and muddy. Plan an entire day for this strenuous track.
Mild temps throughout the year; neither hot nor freezing cold. The annual rainfall at Lake Kaniere is up to 4000 mm high. If it rains it pours but can be dry and beautiful as well.
- Summer; Average day temps are 18-20°C and around 10°C in the night. Comfortable for camping. Precipitation occurs more often at this time of the year.
- Winter; Average day temps are above 10°C with a significant drop in the night. During winter expect snow on the top of Mount Tuhua on 1.125 m elevation. The weather is more stable with clear days.
[updated by When to be Where]