Situated half way between Vancouver and Whistler on the scenic Sea to Sky Highway, Squamish lies at the northern tip of Howe Sound. Home to numerous provincial parks, mountains, waterfalls and lakes, there are so many things to do in Squamish. Since moving to Vancouver, I’ve been to Squamish several times and it’s become one of my favourite places in British Columbia.
In this blog post I’m sharing the best things to do in Squamish. From beautiful mountain hikes to scenic lakes, if you’re thinking of planning a weekend getaway to Squamish, here are a few activities and sights that you can’t miss.
Please note: This post contains some affiliate links which means if you follow a link and end up making a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks in advance for supporting my blog – Steph
8 FUN THINGS TO DO IN SQUAMISH
1. Plan a cosy cabin getaway
There are lots of log cabins near Vancouver, but Sunwolf Riverside Resort is one of my favourite places to stay when Mat and I want to get out of the city for a few days, especially in winter. As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, there’s something quite magical about holing up in a snug cabin and relaxing by a log fire.
Nestled among 5 acres of lush woodland, Sunwolf has a rustic charm. The small resort is idyllically situated at the confluence of the Cheakamus and Cheekye rivers and offers spectacular views of the snow-capped peaks of the Tantalus Range.
There are 12 riverside cabins tucked away in the coastal temperate rainforest, including the Loggers Shack and the Fisherman’s Cottage. The riverside cabins are bright, spacious, and have a Scandinavian feel. They comfortably sleep 3 people, although you can pay a bit extra to accommodate a 4th person. The Fisherman’s Cottage is the largest cabin on the site and sleeps 8 people. You can check availability and pricing here.
2. Hike the iconic Stawamus Chief
The Stawamus Chief is one of the largest granite monoliths in North America towering 702 metres above Squamish. Known locally as the Chief, it’s one of the most popular rock climbing and hiking destinations along the Sea to Sky. Hiking the Chief is one of the best things to do in Squamish. It’s a steep intermediate hike which offers incredible views over Squamish, Howe Sound, and Garibaldi Provincial Park. There are three summits; First Peak, Second Peak and Third Peak.
The three peaks
- First Peak: 1.5 km trail with an elevation gain of 540 metres
- Second Peak: 1.7 km trail with an elevation gain of 590 metres
- Third Peak: 1.8 km trail with an elevation gain of 630 metres
Most people take the route up to Second Peak and then continue on to Third Peak which takes about 6 to 7 hours to complete. Although it’s not an overly technical hike, it is challenging due to the steep incline but the views make it worth the effort.
3. Go eagle watching
Brackendale Eagle Provincial Park is located in the Squamish River Valley. It’s a beautiful area to explore all year round, but even more so in winter. Between November and February, the area is home to the largest congregation of wintering bald eagles who come to feast on the spawning salmon. Eagle watching is one of the most popular things to do in Squamish at this time of year.
The park has an Eagle Run viewing shelter where you can learn more about the eagles and salmon lifecycle through the Eagle Watch Interpretive Program. The best time to visit is between mid-December and mid-January.
We saw plenty of bald eagles when we stayed at Sunwolf Riverside Resort last November. The cabins are located at the confluence of the two rivers so it’s a great spot to see the eagles.
4. Explore Garibaldi Provincial Park
Stretching from Pemberton to Squamish, Garibaldi Provincial Park offers a variety of beautiful hiking trails to glacier fed lakes, stunning mountain summits, and flower filled meadows. The Diamond Head area of the park is situated just north of Squamish. Many of the trails start here so Squamish is the perfect base if you plan to explore the park.
The Diamond Head area includes Mount Garibaldi, Opal Cone, and Mamquam Lake. The trail to Elfin Lakes also starts here and is one of the best things to do if you’re staying in Squamish. Although it is a long hike (22 km round trip), the elevation gain is only 600 metres, making it one of the more moderate hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
If you drive further north, you’ll reach the Rubble Creek area which is the heart of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Here you can hike to Garibaldi Lake, Black Tusk, and the iconic Panorama Ridge.
Garibaldi Lake (18 km round trip)
Nestled between alpine mountains, Garibaldi Lake is one of the most scenic places in British Columbia. The trail begins with 6 km of switch backs which can be steep at times. Shortly after the 6 km mark, you’ll reach a junction where you can go right directly to Garibaldi Lake, or left to Taylor Meadows. If you choose the latter, you’ll add on a few kilometres to your hike but it’s definitely worth it in the summer and early fall when the meadows are filed with alpine flowers. The hike takes about 5 – 6 hours in total. A lot of people choose to camp overnight at Taylor Meadows or Garibaldi Lake so they can hike Panorama Ridge or Black Tusk the next day. If you choose to do this, you’ll need to make a reservation at one of the two campsites in advance as they sell out quickly each year.
Black Tusk (29 km round trip)
Black Tusk is one of the most unique hikes in British Columbia. Whilst many hikers opt to complete this hike in one day, it is a long and steep trail so some people prefer to camp overnight at Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows and then hike to Black Tusk the next day. If you decide to do it in a day then make sure you leave enough time to get back to the car park during daylight hours. The trail can be very technical and dangerous in places especially as you climb higher. The views are stunning but make sure you have the right gear and are properly prepared before you set out.
Panorama Ridge (30 km round trip)
With an elevation gain of 1520 metres over 30 km, this is probably the most challenging hike I’ve ever done but it’s also my favourite. The trail meanders through the beautiful Taylor Meadows with views of Black Tusk and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most scenic views in Garibaldi Provincial Park and you’ll understand why it’s one of the best things to do in Squamish! Like Black Tusk, many people choose to split the hike over two days.
5. Spend the day at Brohm Lake
If you’re looking for a relaxing day out, head to Brohm Lake. Located about 15 km north of Squamish, Brohm Lake is one of the most popular summer spots in Squamish. By July, the water is warm and refreshing which makes it perfect for swimming, paddle-boarding, or just relaxing on an inflatable rubber ring. We have spent many afternoons at Brohm Lake enjoying a picnic with friends and hiking some of the wooden trails in the surrounding forest. The western trails offer beautiful views towards the Tantalus Range. Parking is limited and is usually full by 9am in the summer months so you need to get there early or come later in the afternoon when people start to leave.
6. Stop at Brandywine Falls
Located along the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler, Brandywine Falls is an iconic landmark. The waterfall is very accessible and is only a short walk (1 km) from the car park, making it the perfect place to stop if you’re travelling through the Squamish and Whistler area. The trail starts from the parking lot and crosses a wooden bridge over the river. After the bridge, head right for 500 metres until you reach the viewing platform overlooking the spectacular 70m waterfall. It’s a beautiful scene especially in winter when the surrounding rocks are covered in snow.
7. Enjoy a scenic lunch at the Watershed Grill
There are plenty of lovely places to eat in Squamish, but the Watershed Grill is a firm favourite. Located in a beautiful setting overlooking the Squamish River, the restaurant is a great place to stop for breakfast and lunch. The patio offers picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and you’ll usually spot some wildlife down by the river below. The last time we went we saw two black bears which was an incredible sight to see at 10am in the morning! The restaurant serves a variety of dishes but is best known for their burgers.
8. Sample some local beers at Howe Sound Brewing
Squamish has three breweries in the town but my favourite is Howe Sound Brewing which has the most incredible views of the Chief from its outdoor patio. The brewery produces award-winning beer including India pale ales, a honey ale and an oatmeal stout.
They also serve delicious homemade pub food which is perfect after a day hiking in the mountains. Their menu is full of classic favourites so there’s plenty to choose from. They have a great selection of fresh pizzas, local seafood, and hearty burgers – all of which are made with local, seasonal produce. As a Brit, I’m very picky about Fish and Chips but I can honestly say theirs is one of the best I’ve had in Canada!
You’ll find all of the places listed in this article on my map below. To save this map, click on the star on the right hand side of the title. This will save the map to “Your Places” in the Google Maps so you will have it when you visit Squamish.
Squamish is a beautiful year-round destination and really does have something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to explore the local trails or just relax by the lakes and enjoy the vibrant town, there are so many fun things to do in Squamish. I hope you found this blog post useful and discovered some new things to try if you’re ever in Squamish.
If you’re looking for more things to do in and around Vancouver, I’ve written a guide to the prettiest spots in Vancouver to help you find some of the city’s most photogenic locations. For more outdoor inspiration, I’ve written a post on the best hiking trails near Vancouver, including Panorama Ridge, St Mark’s Summit, and Watersprite Lake.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them.