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The Chief is located close to the lovely town of Squamish in the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. It is one of the largest granite monoliths in the world with a hight of 702 m more than 2300 feet.

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 behind and Garibaldi Mountain in the back
Stawamus Chief from Sea to Sky Gondola - Mt. Garibaldi in the back

Avoiding Crowds

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. 

Stawamus Chief hike always up through the forest
The Stawamus Chief Hike always up

Hiking Season

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.

Climbing up on the granite monolith Stawamus Chief close to Squamish

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.

Weather

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.

Stawamus Chief Hike a strenuous hike uphill

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.
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