May Hiking Guide - Squamish & Sea to Sky Trails
May is an amazing time to hike in Squamish. The weather is consistently warm and sometime hot. The days are long and bright as summer begins. The hiking trails are still fairly quiet though as summer holidays have not yet begun and there is still a lot of snow on most of the Garibaldi Provincial Park trails. If you are motivated for some difficult, snowy and steep hiking you will find many places in Garibaldi Park devoid of people and leave you thinking you are the only person left in the world. Only a handful of people make the gruelling hike to Wedgemount Lake, for example. Any if you are one of those people you will find an amazingly hostile, though incredibly beautiful world. Cold and white, with the chaotic slopes of massive scree boulders made soft and beautiful with the perfect coating of snow. With the lake usually frozen until late June, in May it's frozen very thick. Spectacular beautiful. The Stawamus Chief and Upper Shannon Falls hike are beautiful in May. Conveniently located just off the highway in Squamish. Shannon Falls can be seen in a few minutes and the Chief in a couple hours. For some hikes that are not so exhausting, is great in May. Depending on the snow accumulation during the year of course, but usually you can drive to the trailhead parking lot by early May and if you can reach the parking lot, the trail should be mostly free of snow.
The Garibaldi Provincial Park hikes are amazing in May. , are great, and not terribly hard, but snowshoes might be necessary, depending on how much the snow is packed down from other hikers. and are pretty exhausting with the added difficulty of snow, but considerably more amazing with snow. May is also the month where the road to becomes free of snow and you can drive right to the hot springs campsite. A hot springs trip for two or three days going to both and Sloquet makes for an amazing couple days. There is a charge for Skookumchuck and theoretically a charge for Sloquet (for overnight camping), but I have yet to have the pleasure of paying. are great in May. Alexander Falls will have lots of snow, but only a few dozen metres of it to walk through to the viewpoint. will be free of snow in May as well as and .
is possibly the best challenging hike in the area in May. The snow disappears faster from the trail there, and what snow remains is consistently packed down by skiers, snowshoers and hikers. To hike Joffre Lakes in May you just need good warm clothes, good waterproof shoes for the mud and snow patches and the foresight or luck to go on a sunny day. The lake is amazing in good weather and dismal in grey weather. Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is a beautiful stop in between Squamish and Whistler. It's about 25 minutes north of Squamish, 11k south of Whistler. The hike from the parking lot to the falls is less than a kilometre and on a wide and flat trail. Most people miss the other viewpoint from above the falls, from the train tracks bridge. To find it is easy. As you walk toward the falls from the parking lot you will have to cross train tracks. Standing at the train tracks look to your right and you will see a bridge that the train tracks cross. Walk over to that to see the falls from above. Amazing! Brandywine Falls drop an amazing 66 metres (216 feet) into the chasm far below that the viewing platform extends over. Another trail extends past this viewing area leading to another, quieter area overlooking Daisy Lake. Shannon Falls towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC. The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old growth forest to get to the base of the falls. From your car to the viewpoint takes only about four minutes, however the trail continues a bit further to a higher viewpoint (five minutes higher). You can even continue along the trail and join with the Stawamus Chief trail which goes to the three summits of the Chief. The trail to the Chiefs peaks are very steep and almost constant stairs to be prepared for quite a workout comparable to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver. The trailhead to Shannon Falls Provincial Park is just south of the Stawamus Chief trailhead. Stawamus Chief is the mammoth rock face that towers over . Though hardly believable from looking at, the summit is an easy two hour hike. In fact there are three peaks, South (First), Centre (Second), and North (Third). Each accessible from the single trailhead. Growing in popularity as the newest brother to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver because there are quite a few stairs and considerable elevation gain. 540 metres in 1.5k. (The Grouse Grind is 853 metres in 2.9k) The trailhead to the Chief is easy to find. From highway 99, in Squamish. As you approach the Chief, visible for several kilometres, watch for the sign for "Stawamus Chief." The large parking lots are arranged next to the trailhead. Taylor Meadows is a beautiful campsite and alternative to the much busier Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in between Garibaldi Lake and itself. It is reached from the same trailhead to Garibaldi Lake. There are 40 very nice tent platforms, toilets, a good water source and a food cache, all in the lush forest of Taylor Meadows with the distant view of Black Tusk. Generally Taylor Meadows is not a destination, but part of a circle route. For example, trailhead to Taylor Meadows, Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, then return via Garibaldi Lake. This makes for a long hike at 30k, which is why tenting at this perfectly beautiful, and perfectly located Taylor Meadows Campsite, is a great idea.
Driving Destinations from Squamish
is a beautiful little stop between Vancouver and Squamish. Located 19 kilometres south of Squamish, it is an ideal, scenic and quick pit-stop along the Sea to Sky Highway. There are public washrooms located just a off the highway. The marine park is centred around a wonderful pier with viewing platforms that jut out and above the ocean of this majestic and enormous Canadian fjord - the most southerly fjord in North America. Whistler's Bungee Bridge is a very convenient and beautiful stop on the way to or from Whistler from Squamish. Just 35 minutes north of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway, then just a 3 kilometre logging road takes you right to the stairs up to this amazing bridge. Open year-round and surprisingly accessible, even in the snowy winter months, thousands of cars drive by every day and never take a look. With so many sights on the Sea to Sky Highway to see, the Whistler Bungee Bridge is one of the nicer and certainly one of the most convenient to see. The Whistler Bungee Bridge is part of the fantastic Sea to Sky Trail. Lighthouse Park is an extraordinarily little known piece of paradise, so close to to as to see its tall buildings, yet immersed into a dramatically beautiful . A wonderful network of trails winds throughout massive and as well as stretching toward the ocean. There are so many great aspects of this hike. The first is the beautiful drive to get there. spectacularly hugs the rugged and steep coast of . Another is the wonderful variation of trails. They stretch out in several directions in the thick forest, each leading to breathtaking ocean viewpoints. Alexander Falls is a relatively unknown waterfall less than an hours drive north of Squamish. The falls are very beautiful, impressively huge, and very easily viewable. In fact, you can drive right the nice viewing platform built just before the 2010 Olympics . The falls are just before Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley, halfway to Whistler from Squamish. The large parking area and viewing platform are located on the edge of a cliff across the gorge from the falls. Just before the turnoff to Callaghan Lake you will see a sign for Alexander Falls. The Callaghan Valley is a very nice detour on the way to or from Whistler. Northair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest. Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine. You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park, which is just a couple kilometres away. Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company Northair Group. The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982. Meager Creek Hot Springs, 148k north of Squamish was beautifully developed into gorgeous pools, with a caretaker and usage charge. At its height of popularity, Meager Creek Hot Springs had 30,000 yearly visitors. Unfortunately, due to two recent catastrophic mudslides it seems unlikely to ever officially reopen. After several years of being closed, access reopened on 2009 with a nice, expensive, new bridge. Only to be dramatically obliterated from another slide in 2010. The access bridge over the Upper Lillooet River which cost nearly a million dollars was wrecked in seconds in 2010. Skookumchuck Hot Springs is both tacky and beautiful. There are several tubs that the hot springs water gets channeled through. On first sight, many are disappointed at the unnatural and shabby setup, however after a couple minutes the disappointment fades. The ramshackle collection of tubs becomes strangely charming and the large A-frame, main tub is quite large. The variety of tubs allows for quite a fun atmosphere as you get a couple people drinking champagne in one tub, more in another tub in serene silence, and others in the main tub relaxing in conversation. As Skookumchuck is located on a relatively busy logging road, it is snowplowed in the winter, allowing the hot springs to remain open year-round.out 10-20 centimetres deep. Dodging potholes and the occasional boulder are usually the only obstacles around this area. Sloquet Hot Springs is a wonderfully wild set of shallow, man-made pools fed by a small, all natural, and very hot, waterfall. The pools stretch from the waterfall to the large and crashing Sloquet River. The large, spread out campsite for the hot springs lies a short 5 to 10 minute walk from the springs(depending on your campsite). You have to follow a dark and quickly descending trail toward the crashing river. As you near, you can smell the unusual, but kind of nice hot springs scent, and you see steam rising all around you, some steam rising, bizarrely, out of the grass clearing on the edge of the river.