Upper Shannon Falls hike leads to fabulous views in Squamish
So, you’ve already hiked the three peaks of Stawamus Chief Mountain. Perhaps you’ve gone even further and endured the trail to the summit of Slhaney. What’s left to do in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park in Squamish?
Upper Shannon Falls is a worthy destination. This short day hike leads you to the top of 335-metre Shannon Falls, that popular attraction off the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
A quicker start can be gained from the Stawamus Chief parking lot. But, for the full Shannon Falls experience, I recommend starting with the tourists at Shannon Falls Provincial Park.
Heading downhill after checking out the waterfall from the viewing platforms, keep right for the trail to the Stawamus Chief. The route heads through the forest and past a caution sign to the bridge over Olesen Creek. Just before the bridge, you’ll notice a rough path striking off uphill. It leads to the Olesen Creek Wall, which is of some climbing interest.
On the other side of the bridge, you meet the Chief Peaks Trail. Ascend this heavily trafficked trail until you reach the junction with the Upper Shannon Falls Trail.
With its fuchsia-coloured markers, your less-popular route heads off to the right and over Olesen Creek’s upper bridge. The trail is remarkably flat at first but soon rises steeply with the aid of slippery-when-wet log steps and wooden handrails in some sections. Along the way, there are two viewpoints affording looks at Howe Sound and Squamish.
Eventually, the trail loses altitude as it approaches Shannon Creek. Your path turns upstream, with a fixed chain for assistance on one bit, and you arrive at Upper Shannon Falls. Although only a fraction of the size of its lower counterpart, the upper waterfall is impressive in its own right.
However, the true reward lies several minutes up the trail. Finally, the path follows a fixed cord up onto a bluff with marvellous views. The scene includes Howe Sound, the mouth of the Squamish River, Mount Murchison and Mount Lapworth across the valley, and the Stawamus Chief.
A five-kilometre hike with about 500 metres of elevation gain, Upper Shannon Falls takes around 4.5 hours return from the Shannon Falls parking lot. Last weekend, though there was a minor amount of ice on the final bluff, the trail remained snow-free.