1st Peak

6 km

2 h r/t


620 m

March to Nov

2nd Peak

9 km

3 h r/t


600 m

March to Nov

3rd Peak

11 km

4 h r/t


600 m

March to Nov


15 km

5½ h r/t


550 m

March to Nov


Access: See Getting to Whistler

Topographical Map: Squamish 92G/11

Click to View Map

When you get off the bus at the Stawamus Chief viewpoint, look up. Chances are there will be any number of groups hanging off the imposing granite monolith above you. This is "The Grand Wall," one of North America's most famous free climbs. The good news is you won't be scaling the Chief in that fashion.


Monster Monolith: The Chief dominates the view overlooking Howe Sound on a misty day. Photo taken from the trail to Diamond Head.

Stawamus Chief Provincial Park now includes 40 wilderness and 15 vehicle campsites that were created following a prolonged bout of civil disobedience. Following many years of "guerrilla camping" by a growing corps of dedicated cliff hangers the provincial government finally decided to get with the program and build a proper campsite with toilets at the site. The park has since become a veritable mecca for climbers from all over North America attracted by some of the longest, most accessible free climbing routes on the planet. There are more than 280 different ascents up The Chief. Perhaps they don't know what you do, there's a much easier back door.

Walk southwards, working around behind the base of the Chief in counter-clockwise direction. Once you locate the trailhead in behind the solid rock wall scramble over the boulder that blocks the entrance and begin climbing the steps in earnest. The well-used trail paralleling Olesen Creek eventually branches into four separate routes. One will take you as far as the site of a forest fire lookout perched atop Stawamus Squaw 7 km away. The others lead to the Stawamus Chief's triple peaks.

The first two branches to the right lead to Shannon Falls and are detailed below. Almost immediately a left branch leads up to the first and second peak. The first peak is a mere 3 km away; straight up mind you but mercifully short. The second peak is 4½ km away while the third one is 5½ km from the start of the trail. The third peak can be accessed either from the top of the second peak or from the main trail following Olesen Creek. This latter route eventually branches with the left fork extending up to the third peak. The Chief's distant mate will be found at the end of the right fork. The views from all four are spectacular, encompassing a panorama that includes the striking peaks of Garabaldi Park to the east, the Squamish Valley to the north and Howe Sound laid out at your feet to the west and south. The scene is marred only by the urban and industrial landscape of the city of Squamish and the Woodfibre pulp mill beyond. From atop the Chief consider you are standing on the world's second largest freestanding granite outcropping, topped only by the Rock of Gibraltar.

Choose a route suited to your schedule or camp out and undertake all four.

The End

Rose Hips

Wild Rose

This budding celebrity is popular enough to have been immortalized on license plates in four American states and one Canadian province, Alberta. Even before the Euro-invasion wild roses and their fruit, called "hips," were a mainstay in the medicine chests of nearly every nation on the continent. Whether a cure-all or just sound nutrition, rose hips are indeed generously endowed with vitamin C as well as beta-carotene, vitamins E, B and K. While rose hips are widely available as commercial herbal teas and jams, the tough outer rind can be chewed as is at trailside. Just peel and separate from the seeds, prior to chomping. Add wild rose petals to outback salad for both colour and delicate flavour.

Illustration by Manami Kimura