Stawamus Chief – Squamish, British Columbia - Atlas Obscura

Stawamus Chief

Squamish, British Columbia

As you overlook the Howe Sound and the town of Squamish, your breath will be taken away by its beauty or the stairs... probably all the stairs. 

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Get ready for stairs… a lot of them. Reaching the top of Stawamus Chief requires a 600-meter elevation gain woven through the beautiful British Columbia forest. But luckily, the air is cool, crisp and fresh. There are three peaks you can choose from, each one more extraordinary then the last. Doing this hike in the early morning will reward you with a stunning sunrise overlooking the Howe Sound and the town of Squamish.

The Stawamus Chief, often referred to as just “The Chief,” is a massive granitic dome, one of the largest granite monoliths in the world. It is part of a larger rock formation that dates back approximately 100 million years, to the early Cretaceous period. Over millions of years, the rock emerged as the surrounding earth eroded away. The three summits of the Stawamus Chief are separated by gullies that grew from from fractures in the rock.

To the Squamish, indigenous people from this area, the mountain is a place of spiritual significance. According to Squamish tradition, the peak was once a longhouse that was transformed to stone by Xáays, four brothers who were supernatural beings. In the Squamish language, the mountain is called Siyám Smánit.

Know Before You Go

It takes about six hours to reach the top, depending on which route you take.

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