With almost a half-million visitors annually, Shannon Falls Provincial Park is
one of the most popular picnic spots along the entire Sea to Sky corridor. Located
on the east side of Hwy 99 just south of Stawamus Chief Mountain, extensive picnic
grounds surround the base of BC's third-highest waterfall (1,105 feet/335 m).
In summer months the parking lot is full by noon, with half of the visitors arriving
by tour bus. Picnic tables are located beside Shannon Creek and in the Loggers
Sports Field nearby.
Shannon Falls from
A boardwalk leads to a viewing platform near the base
of the roaring falls. From here you can gaze up the smooth sides of the granite
walls over which the falls foam and tumble. At low flow, the falls does little
more than veil the rockface. In feistier seasons, when the falls gives off an
almighty roar, its spray will drench you if you get too close. Some people (the
cold shower types) don't mind and follow a rough trail that leads from the viewing
platform to the base of the falls.
Often the best time to picnic here
is on the first warm days of spring and the last ones of fall, when water levels
in the falls are running strong and the number of visitors is lower than mid summer.
Chief Mountain is a strenuous, 4- to 7-mile (7- to 11-km) return hike, depending
on which of three summit routes you choose. There are several approaches to the
base of this mass of granite. For the first, leave your car in the lot beside
Shannon Falls Provincial Park's Logger's Sports Area. Look for the orange and
red markers affixed to a large cedar tree by the Federation of BC Mountain Clubs
at the north end of the sports area, which point the way. Travel time to the base
of the Chief is 15 minutes on this 0.6-mile (1-km), well-maintained trail, which
features several good viewpoints and close encounters with the cool, smooth rock
face where the trail runs beside it.
Shannon Falls Park
An alternative approach allows you to
drive to the base of the Chief itself at the interpretive viewing area on Hwy
99 just north of Shannon Falls. Take the dirt road that leads up the embankment
in the middle of the viewpoint (it's not as badly eroded as the others). It links
up with a section of the old highway that runs north and south as it hugs the
base of the Chief.
When you stand next to the Chief here, you look up and up
at a wall of smooth granite. It's awe-inspiring. You can see why this monolith
has become internationally famous among climbers and has graced more than its
share of magazine covers.
To reach the trailhead, turn south onto the old
road above the viewpoint, continuing on to its end. Hiking from here to the Chief's
south summit is a 2-mile (3.5-km) ascent and takes about 90 minutes; add another
hour if you choose the longer Centre and North summit route (3.5 miles/5.5 km
one way). Both routes share a common beginning, then divide above Oleson Creek.
(Note: The trail from Shannon Falls joins this approach at Oleson Creek, a short
distance uphill.) Altogether there is a 1,980-foot (600-m) elevation gain on this
hike; you will be climbing almost constantly until the top. This trail is the
most popular with hikers (upwards of 50,000 a year), but it is only one of several
possible routes on the Chief.
Even if you don't plan
to hike, be sure to stop at the Stawamus Chief Mountain viewpoint on Hwy 99 in
Squamish, a short distance north of Shannon Falls Provincial Park. An interpretive
display will acquaint you with the mountain and some of the history of the region.
Get out your binoculars and scan for climbers high up on the sides of the Chief.
Shannon Falls Provincial Park is located 2 miles (3 km) south of Squamish
and 16 miles (25 km) north of Horseshoe Bay on Vancouver's North Shore.
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||West Coast Sightseeing offers guided tours, personalized tours, and private tours of Vancouver. Tours include the City Highlights Tour, Victoria & Butchart Gardens Tour, Grouse Mountain & Capilano Suspension Bridge Tour, and the Whistler & Shannon Falls Tour. Looking for a little more adventure? Try our Rafting Tour. Would you like some culture? We are the only tour bus company going to the Museum of Anthropology.