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Recommended This Week

Best Moderate Hiking Trails in Squamish

Rainbow Lake Aerial Video - Squamish TrailsPanorama Ridge Aerial Video - Squamish TrailsCheakamus Lake Aerial Video - Sea to Sky Trails

Squamish has a huge selection of amazing moderately challenging hiking trails to choose from.  High Falls Creek is steep, but very short and scenic.  Elfin Lakes is very long, though the trail is easy to follow and relaxing.  Garibaldi Lake, Ring Lake and Conflict Lake are only moderately difficult as well but each are amazing hikes.  Upper Shannon Falls is a fantastic, yet seldom hiked trail to views comparable to the neighbouring and frantically busy, Stawamus Chief.  If you have not done any or all of these, make a point of doing so.  They are all wonderful examples of the beautiful hiking in and around Squamish.

Garibaldi Lake - Best Moderate Squamish Hiking TrailsGaribaldi Lake tops this list of moderately challenging Squamish trails because the hike is scenic, especially the last couple kilometres and the lake is magnificent.  The amazing turquoise colour of the water is a result of the beautiful glaciers visible across the lake depositing light-reflecting particles of rock.  Garibaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  The Garibaldi Lake campsite is located on the amazing, turquoise shores of this massive and mostly undisturbed mountain lake.  There are no trails around the perimeter of the lake with the exception of the small section leading to the campsite, so your view of the lake is a sea of unnaturally coloured water ringed by swaths of forest and a magnificent glacier towering in the distance.  The water is painfully cold, though plenty of brave hikers swim here as well as camp.  The camping area is well laid out and stretches deep into the forest with 50 tent clearings.  You can, except for the busiest of days, put your tent out of earshot and sight of others. The trail to Garibaldi Lake from the Rubble Creek trailhead, just off of the Sea to Sky Highway takes about two hours.  You gain a fair amount of elevation, 900 metres in just 9k, trailhead to lake.  Partway along the trail to Garibaldi Lake the trail forks.  Right to Garibaldi Lake and left goes to another beautiful campground, Taylor Meadows.

Panorama Ridge Aerial View of Garibaldi Lake

Past Taylor Meadows you can link back to Garibaldi Lake by yet another linking trail.  At every trail for there are nice and clear signs and sometimes maps, showing where and how far everything is.  Beyond Taylor Meadow and Garibaldi Lake is the amazing Black Tusk.  Black Tusk, Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake can be done in one long 30k dayhike, trailhead to trailhead, but expect to take 8-10 hours.  The Garibaldi Lake trailhead is located just 25 minutes north of Squamish.  Keep your eye out for the hard to miss highway sign.

Why is Garibaldi Lake one of the best trails in Squamish?

Garibaldi Lake is almost impossibly blue.  The colour, turquoise, blue, emerald green, it varies by the hour, but whatever the colour, it is stunning.  Contrasting with the black volcanic rock that lays along the shoreline, you find yourself staring.  Add to that the glaciers at the far end of the lake and Black Tusk looming in the distance, make you invariably take dozens of photos.  The campsite at Garibaldi Lake is surprisingly beautiful as well.  You would assume, due to its popularity, that it would be overcrowded.  Somehow, the deep forest and spread out design of the tent sites seems to diffuse the throngs of hikers and makes 80 campers seem like 10.

Garibaldi Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park - Moderate to Challenging Squamish Hiking Trails >>

Elfin Lakes - Best Moderate Squamish Hiking TrailsElfin Lakes is a sensational mountain paradise at the southern end of the massive Garibaldi Provincial Park.  An amazing destination on its own, Elfin Lakes is also part of a gateway to so much more.  The Gargoyles, Little Diamond Head, Opal Cone...  There is a wonderful, extremely well equipped hut and campsites as well as a ranger station at the lakes. Staying at the amazing hut costs $15, cash only.  You can pay with cash using an envelope drop-box at the trailhead or at the hut or you can pre-pay through the BCParks site online.  Which sounds expensive until you see it.  It looks more like a ski lodge than a mountain hut.  Complete with solar powered lights, heat, propane stoves and room for 33 to sleep.  You will find envelopes to pay at the trailhead.  Camping away from the hut costs $10.  Once again that seem expensive, but the area is very beautiful and popular so park rangers are nearly always around to keep things nice and functional.  Elfin Lakes starts out ascending through deep forest, reaching the Red Heather Hut after 5k.  This is a small warming hut equipped with a wood stove complete with a stack of wood free to use.  Though sleeping here is for emergencies only, the Red Heather Hut is warm and welcoming.  The final 6k from this hut to Elfin Lakes takes you along a beautiful ridge with amazing views of snowy mountains all around.  The sheer distance of this hiking trail ranks it as difficult.  Also, there is a considerable amount of elevation gain and loss along the way and you move through several gradual peaks and valleys.

Why is Elfin Lakes one of the best hikes in Squamish?

Elfin Lakes is a stunning mountain paradise.  Deep forest, lush green meadows, hills, valleys, and mountains all around.  The trail is a fairly challenging, and consistently ascending route through this magnificent wilderness near the southern end of Garibaldi Provincial Park.  This Diamond Head entrance to Garibaldi Park in Squamish is quite busy, however, even on popular weekends it is nice and serene.  The 11 kilometre length to the Elfin Lakes Hut, spreads out the hikers quite a bit and the terrain around the hut offers endless hiking opportunities in a number of directions.  What an amazing place, Garibaldi Provincial Park is!

Elfin Lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park - Moderate to Challenging Squamish Hiking Trails >>

Upper Shannon Falls - Best Moderate Squamish Hiking TrailsUpper Shannon Falls is much less strenuous than Elfin Lakes or Garibaldi Lake, and you don't get the amazing alpine views, however you do get some stunning views of Squamish similar to the more popular.  The beginning of the Upper Shannon Falls hike greets you with the breathtaking 335 metre Shannon Falls.  This crashing monster freezes you with spray as you pass close enough to feel its pounding force.  Starting at the Shannon Falls trailhead is almost always the better option than starting at the nearby Stawamus Chief trailhead.  The exception would be if you plan on camping at the large and well designed forest campsites at the start of the Stawamus Chief trailhead.  The two trailheads, Shannon Falls and Stawamus Chief are quite close, only about 1.5k apart.  The Stawamus Chief trailhead has the campsites (63 tent sites at $8/person, free in the winter) and the Shannon Falls trailhead has the washrooms and concession stand.  Both have large parking lots.  The Upper Shannon Falls trail is generally easy and only 3.5k from the Shannon Falls trailhead to the end of the Upper Shannon Falls trail and plateau viewpoints.  It is however constantly uphill as you do gain 450 metres in that short distance.  There are a couple chain pulls along the trail (see picture below), though they are only added as a convenience and added safety precaution on a couple narrow parts of the trail.  The real attraction of the Upper Shannon Falls trail is actually not the upper falls, but rather the beautiful hilltop and rock outcrops at the end of the trail.  They give you tremendous views all around.  From Squamish to distant mountains to Howe Sound.  There is a considerable forested area to explore and so large as to likely never bump into anyone if you plan on relaxing with a mountaintop picnic or glass of wine.

Why is Upper Shannon Falls one of the best trails?

Upper Shannon Falls is a short and almost easy trail that takes you past the beautiful Shannon Falls, up along part of the Chief trail and then deep into the wild and deep forest trail to Upper Shannon Falls.  Then if you continue further along the trail you come to some amazing viewpoints high above Squamish.  If you can manage an evening hike, the sunsets are incredible.

Upper Shannon Falls - Moderate to Challenging Squamish Hiking Trails >>

High Falls Creek - Best Moderate Squamish HikesHigh Falls Creek is included here though it is often considered a difficult trail due to its steepness, it can be a relatively short trail if you you hike to the falls and back.  This 6k route makes it challenging, but not terribly difficult.  Keep this steepness in mind however, if you have difficulty with steep, chain assisted sections. High Falls Creek is a great hike not only for the beautiful scenery in and around the trail, but the drive to it as well.  The often passed by Squamish Valley Road, just of the Sea to Sky Highway, opposite the Alice Lake Provincial Park access road, is wonderful.  This glacier carved valley stretches on and on, along the majestic Squamish River as you follow forest service roads 26 kilometres to the trailhead.  The High Falls trail is well marked and difficult to moderately challenging.  There are some short chain assisted areas to climb and overall the trail is fairly steep.  You gain a gruelling 622 metres in less than 4 kilometres.  Past the beautiful falls viewpoints the trail leads to a few more cliff viewpoints before ending at the Branch 200 FSR.  You can either turn back and retrace the steep trail you came back to your car (8 kilometres roundtrip).  Most prefer to walk the forest service road back to the trailhead instead.  It is much longer (almost 2 kilometres longer), but it is easy and relaxing and there are some stunning views of the river valley below.  This road takes you back to the S Main FSR where you will turn left onto and walk about 1.4 kilometres to get back to your car.

Why is High Falls Creek one of the best moderate hikes?

High Falls Creek is located far up Squamish Valley and the drive alone is worth doing.  A quiet and very scenic country road that follows the massive Squamish River as it winds its way through the Valley.  The High Falls Creek trailhead is tricky to find and you get the impression that this part of the world is well off the radar.  On a weekday you won't see another hiker and on a weekend you may only see a dozen.  If you like a workout the trail is great for that.  The chain pull sections make you feel like you are in the army and the the route is barely worn, making the wilderness around you feel even more wild.

High Falls Creek - Moderate to Challenging Squamish Hiking Trails >>

Ring and Conflict Lakes - Best Moderate Squamish HikesRing Lake is a fantastically beautiful and wonderfully remote lake similar to Cirque Lake but considerably farther to hike to reach it.  The 10k hike takes you through a beautiful forest of cedars then to a spectacular meadow filled with ponds and ringed with distant, enormous mountains.  5k into the hike you come to Conflict Lake with trails running around it.  Signs at various junctions indicate which trail to take to reach Ring Lake, a further 5k from Conflict.  The trail from Conflict Lake to Ring Lake passes through a huge valley for a couple kilometres, then abruptly ascends on the right side of the valley.  The trail is poorly marked in this section and you have to keep bearing right to avoid descending back into the valley.  3k of, at times very steep, but not technical trail gets you to the magnificent Ring Lake and the imposing Ring Mountain across the emerald green water.  The trailhead to Ring and Conflict Lakes is very close to the Callaghan Lake Provincial Park campsite.  From the campsite, drive a couple hundred metres as if returning to Whistler and you will see a clearing on the right and a very well worn trail.  From this trail you will see plenty of signs to guide you first to Conflict Lake in 5k, then Ring Lake, another 5k past Conflict.  The 5k hike to Conflict Lake is quite relaxed and easy as you don't gain any significant elevation.  The 5k from Conflict to Ring Lake is very steep, and though marked well with flagging tape and cairns, if often difficult to follow.  Though this section of trail is definitely challenging, the first 5 kilometres are almost easy as you make your way through gently ascending, well marked trails to Ring Lake.  Combining these two 5 kilometres sections make the trail not quite challenging, but not easy either.  And when you arrive at Ring Lake, you are rewarded with an amazing alpine paradise in this wonderfully remote part of the world.

Why is Ring and Conflict Lakes one of the best moderate trails?

If you like camping in pristine wilderness, the Ring and Conflict Lakes trail is your kind of hike.  No facilities at Ring Lake, few trail signs and few other hikers make this a great way to escape the summertime crowds you may otherwise see across the valley in Garibaldi Park.  The various mountain peaks around the lake are easy to scramble up and each have wonderful views.  You really feel like you are at the back of beyond up in this wild paradise, high above Squamish.

Ring and Conflict Lakes - Moderate to Challenging Squamish Hiking Trails >>

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