Slhanay Peak might count as a hidden gem in Squamish. It is a fabulous hike through gorgeous forest below a towering granite monolith. It is popular with climbers, and mountain bikers but less well famous for hikers. This trail is listed in two local hiking books, Destination Hikes and Squamish Hiking, but hasn’t made it onto the bucket list of the instagram-loving hiking crowds yet. We only saw one other hiker on a gorgeous Saturday in June, when the parking lot of the Chief was completely full. The views from the peak are good, but the best views (of the Chief) are a little below the summit.
Slhanay was previously known as the Stawamus Squaw, but as that is is derogatory to indigenous women, it was renamed in consultation with the local Sḵwx̱wú7mesh nation. Slhanay is pronounced sla-nay, and means woman.
Slhanay Peak trail map
Slhanay Peak – The basics
Distance: 6km (alltrails distance) Our route was more than double that.
Elevation Gain: 670m for the main peak.
High Points: Main peak: 660m, North Peak: 620m
Time: 3-4 hours for the all trails route. Our longer route was 5 hours.
What to bring:
Plenty of water, and hiking poles
The 10 Essentials
Facilities: Porta potties near the trailhead.
Dogs: Dogs allowed on leash.
How hard is it? Moderately hard. It’s very steep in places and not well marked so bring a map.
Slhanay Peak – Getting started
There is space to park 1.7 km down the Mamquam River FSR (the turn-off is about 2km beyond the Stawamus Chief on the Sea to Sky Highway.) The FSR is a gravel road that is fine for regular cars, but gets very dusty in the summertime. The trail is fairly easy to spot, but doesn’t have any obvious trailhead sign on the road.
You’ll know you are on the right trail when you find yourself hiking straight up into the forest. Just like the Chief, this trail starts off STEEP! You’ll gain over 300m in elevation in less than a kilometer. I liked this trail a bit more than the Chief as the forest is so pleasant and it’s a fun, rooty trail rather than a trail of stone steps.
Slhanay – Alternative to the Chief?
There are a few similarities between these two hikes. They are similar length hikes up huge blocks of granite, in almost the same location. The main difference is that the Slhanay trail is a bit more wild, with fewer signs; So you need to watch your step for rocks and roots and bring a map! The other big difference is the silence. While the Chief has hundreds of hikers every day, you should be able to find some peace and quiet on this route.
The Chief has better views from the top, but Slhanay has fabulous views of the Chief! If you have already visited the Chief, it is worth giving Slhanay a try.
After the first section of the hike, the trail opens out to a huge wall of granite. We saw some climbers attempting to scale those cliffs. The trail gets easier at this point as you hike along the base of the cliffs for a while.
Poxy Crag viewpoint
Keep an eye out for the first viewpoint at Poxy Crag. You can take a break and peek down to Squamish. Right after this, there is an even better viewpoint, called Valley.
After the viewpoints, head back into the forest and keep following the trail.
I’ve seen from other hikers that there is another fantastic viewpoint with a bench. We completely missed it, although we found several other spots with great views over to the Stawamus Chief.
Steep trail to the peak
The last bit of trail to the peak is very steep again. We thought we were doing alright, until we were overtaken by a cheerful group of mountain bikers who hiked up this super steep path carrying their bikes.
This gorgeous view of the Chief was just below the peak. Not bad eh!?
Views from the top
Once you make it to the peak, the best views of the Chief are obscured by trees, but you’ll be treated to views of Atwell Peak and Mount Garibaldi.
Continue to the North Peak?
There is a really nice trail beyond the main Slhanay Peak over to the second lower peak to the north. The trail between the two has gorgeous views down to Mount Crumpet and Squamish. Then you can see Mount Habrich and the Sky Pilot from the top.
This is the view back over to the first Slhanay Peak.
I should mention that the second peak has a VERY steep drop-off, so be careful!
Alternative route back
We love finding interesting routes back to the car, so instead of retracing our steps we ran down Shannon Creek Road, crossed the Stawamus river, then walked back along the Mamquam forest service road.
The views remain gorgeous, but you may want to bring a mask for the last section of the walk along the Mamquam FSR. Each time cars drive past, they kick up dust which is not plesant!
We loved the entire hike up Slhanay Peak. It was great to find a quiet trail that includes such incredible scenery (including those fabulous views over to the Chief.) It is also great for the springtime when trails at higher elevation are still covered in snow. It’s a good’un!
Other fantastic hikes near Squamish
Squamish is simply brilliant for hiking. There are fab hikes for all ability levels:
- The most obvious (and famous) hike is the Stawamus Chief (first, second and third peak)
- The Sea to Summit trail by the Gondola, and Al’s Habrich trail which you can do on the same day.
- If you’d like an easy hike, with great views of the Chief, try Mount Crumpit
- A great springtime hike is the fire lookout from Brohm Lake; Tantalaus View Lookout.
- Two gorgeous waterfalls in Squamish Valley are Crooked Falls and High Falls Creek.
- Cheakamus Canyon – if you fancy an easy hike with great views of a canyon and the famous trainline.
- If you have four wheel drive and don’t mind driving a rough FSR, Watersprite Lake is stunning.
Check out the maps on my Oh Canada page for more ideas, or click on the pins below to save this for later.