The Chilliwack area has some gorgeous hikes (like the lovely Mount Thurston), but Cheam Peak is probably the best of them! The only problem is, you need a 4×4 vehicle, with high clearance to reach the start of the walk. Your car does a lot of the work for this peak, so although you need to walk up almost 700m, you will end up higher than 2100m(!) with 360° epic mountain views.
This walk will get your heart pumping, but it is worth the effort, I promise.
Cheam Peak trail map
Cheam Peak – the basics
Distance: 9.5 km (both ways)
Elevation gain: 690m
Highest Point: 2112m
Time: 4 hours (It took us 4.5 hours, including an hour at the top)
What to bring:
This is a steep trail with lots of loose stones. You should have hiking boots and plenty of water. Hiking poles were very helpful too!
It is also quite exposed, so bring a hat and sunscreen.
The ten essentials (as always!)
There is a loo (with a fantastic view) near the carpark
Yes, they’ll love it, but keep them on a lead.
How hard is it?
Moderate. The path is VERY easy to follow, but although 690m doesn’t sound like a huge elevation gain, you start over at 1400m, so your lungs might feel a bit of a strain for the first half an hour as you get used to it.
There are huge cliffs at the top, so be really careful. I didn’t take a jumping photo on the narrow ledges!
Reaching the Cheam Peak Trailhead
The logging road up to Cheam Peak is pretty terrible. It has some very deep ruts as well as huge potholes. We tried it once in our SUV (Hyundai Tuscon) and we didn’t make it *sob.* The second time, the lovely Lisa from westcoasthikergirl.com gave us a lift in her Subaru Forester. The logging road took us almost an hour, as we were in a trail of 6 other cars. Don’t expect to zoom up the road even if you have a speedy off-road vehicle, this walk is so popular, you’ll probably still need to wait in line! We left Vancouver at 7am, and we nabbed the last spot in the carpark. If you leave a bit later, expect to park on the edge of the road, and have an extra hike to the start of the trail.
Cheam Peak – Getting started
Once you’ve made it to the trailhead, you just climb over some massive logs and head straight towards the beautiful mountains. This hike is fantastic for showing off with gorgeous views, right from the start! We did this in mid-October, so the scenery was glowing.
How busy is this trail?
I saw one website that listed this walk as “lightly trafficked.” Heh! That was not our experience at all. This is one of the busiest trails I have been on near Vancouver. I mean, the views are spectacular, so I can see why it is so popular, but don’t do this walk looking for solitude! I actually really enjoyed meeting so many people and doggos on the trail.
To reach Cheam Peak, you need to hike up to a shoulder, between Lady Peak (above) and Cheam Peak. There is a Ts’elxwéyeqw tribe story that says Lady Peak is the Wife of Mount Baker. Cheam Peak (and the smaller peaks by it) are their daughters. Poor Lady Peak, you can see Mount Baker from here, but it’s quite a long way!
Zigzag your way up
The path up Cheam Peak is pretty easy. You can just follow the switch backs up the mountain. I spent quite a lot of time turning around to catch my breath, and look at these amazing views.
Views getting better
As you climb higher up the ridge, you start to see some amaaaazing views between the gap of Lady Peak (top). At the height when you start seeing these views, you’ll also start to see the Fraser Valley and Chilliwack beyond Cheam Peak (below).
The last stretch
So close… once you make it to the top of the ridge, you’ll be able to see this view of the summit. That last little climb is really steep, but it’s not too hard, once you’ve made it this far!
Before you head up, look over the cliffs to your left. The views down to Chilliwack and the Fraser River are pretty amazing.
Cheam Peak Summit
Once you’ve made it up here, you’ll want to spend some time relaxing at the top! We stayed up here for about an hour as it was just sooo nice to sit up there in the sun. We had the summit to ourselves for a couple of minutes, but then quite a few other people arrived. By the time we left, there were more than twenty people chilling at the top of the mountain with us.
If you decide to do this hike, be really careful at the top. The cliffs are incredibly steep.
Lady Peak is the photo on the left, and I’m jumping in front of her husband, Mount Baker on the right.
Even after we decided we should probably give our amazing lunch spot to the next group of hikers, we still had time to see these gorgeous views on the way down.
Right from the start, we noticed that several blokes were carrying massive backpacks on their way up Cheam Peak. I initially assumed they were planning to go camping, but it turned out they were going to jump off the cliffs and then fly down to the Fraser Valley! I chatted to one of them for a while (Kevin) and he told me he’d been paragliding in the area for 30 years! It looked sooo fun!
Now I’m wondering if this is something Marc and I should try!? You get to climb and mountain and then fly down!! That would be amaaazing!
Cheam Peak’s loo with a view
This toilet will definitely make it into my next list of loos with a view! Lisa had a great idea of leaving the door open while we did our business (there were no hikers behind us on the trail). This might be the prettiest sight I have ever had while peeing!
So, although getting to the start of this trail is very difficult, the trail up Cheam Peak is fantastic. The hike itself was harder than I expected, but we were be rewarded with truly gorgeous views.