Explore Squamish - February 09, 2018

Asked & Answered: Top 10 Winter Questions

Photo: Graham Osborne

Asked & Answered: Top 10 Winter Questions

Every year thousands of visitors pass through the doors of the Squamish Adventure Centre each on a quest to #ExploreSquamish. Topics range from "where is the coffee shop" to "where is the hardest trad climb?" and everything else in between.  

As a world-class destination for both winter snow sports and summer water sports, it is clear that there is seasonality to most Squamish activities. But the joy of the West Coast is that no matter what the season there is always plenty of recreation to take part in. If you plan your visit in the winter or spring, there are a few things you might like to know so we thought we would spread the word and pass the knowledge on.

You asked, and we answered, here are the ten most common winter/spring questions in Squamish.

1. Where can I go snowshoeing in Squamish? Where can I rent snowshoes?

The Sea to Sky Gondola and Garibaldi / Red Heather area are our favourite places for a snow-covered tromp in the woods. The trailheads to both these areas are high enough that you can strap on your snowshoes at the beginning of your hike and keep them on the entire time. 

Snowshoe rentals are available at the Escape Route, Flying Spirit Rentals, the Sea to Sky Gondola and Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

Want to push your limits? Why not hire a guide and venture into the unknown. Local guiding companies include Altus Mountain Guides, Canada West Mountain School and Mountain Skills Academy and Adventures

2. Where is the best beer in town?

Squamish has left its mark on the BC Ale Trail and despite being a small town it's home to three great breweries and a distillery! Tailored to the mountain lifestyle Backcountry Brewing, A-Frame Brewing, Howe Sound Brewing and Gillespie's Fine Spirits are prime apres destinations or relaxed evening venues to unwind with friends. Since each location offers a completely different experience, we've created a craft tasting trail map to help you choose which venues appeal to you.

3. Is there a souvenir shop in Squamish?

Located inside the Squamish Adventure Centre, directly across from the information desk is the Squamish Store. There is plenty of Squamish branded gear as well as local artisan created items, and First Nations art. For the on-the-go adventurers, the gift store also sells a variety of guidebooks and things to do resources.

Fun Squamish items can also be found in the eclectic shops in the vibrant Squamish downtown core

4. What are the winter/spring snow-free hiking trails?

This time of year the snow is sparse or already gone from the lower elevation trails so if you're looking to break in those hiking legs in a snow-free environment now is the time to lace up your boots! One of the greatest thing about Squamish is that many trails connect so you can take a short hike and choose to extend it on the fly. There are endless opportunities, so we've broken down the lower elevation hikes from easy to difficult, no matter which you choose you're in for a treat. 

Easy: The Estuary Turtle Trail, the Four Lakes Trail and Brohm Loop
Moderate:Murrin Loop, Smoke Bluffs Loop, First Peak of the Chief, Crooked Falls
Difficult: High Falls, the Chief Third Peak

5. What does it look like at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola?

A ride up the Sea to Sky Gondola will let you soar to new heights with sweeping views of snowcapped mountains and the ocean at the same time. There are few places in the world that can surpass the view from the top, and when you add in the forested ridge and valley and expansive mountain ranges on the other side, you may find yourself swooning at the sight. The whole experience is accentuated by the Sky Pilot suspension bridge and Chief Viewing Platform where you will have the best views in the town.

6. Why is there a snowmobile and a chairlift suspended with ropes across the street?

Last year Squamish got it's very own high ropes obstacle course–a towering West Coast inspired structure located right across from the Squamish Adventure Centre. The course contains 50 different puzzles set to challenge people from 7-70 and is designed so that every foot higher you climb the more difficult the puzzles become. Rope Runner is closed for winter but will reopen again in April.

7. Hiking and snowshoeing up to the Elfin Lakes – how to get there? Will my car make it up the road? How much snow is up there? 

Elfin Lakes is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. We love the trail up to Elfin Lakes, and while it is long and demanding the beautiful views will reward you. To access the trailhead in winter you will need chains and snow tires, while 4x4's are not required, they are recommended. Don't be fooled by the lack of snow in the Squamish Valley, the road up to the parking lot tackles some serious elevation and you will run into snow on the trail, in fact, the lakes often remain frozen until July! Be sure to check the weather and avalanche report before you go.

8. What are some short walks you would recommend?

If you are after a relaxing walk, our favourites are the 2km flat Nexen Beach Loop, Panorama Trail at the Sea to Sky Gondola, the Mamquam spawning channels and the Ray Peters Trail in Brackendale.

9. Is the Stawamus Chief open in winter?

The trail up the Stawamus Chief is open year round, however, it is much more difficult in winter. We recommend carrying microspikes and being prepared for slippery possibly icy conditions. 

10. Where can I see the bald eagles?

While peak eagle viewing season ends in late February, eagles can be spotted later in the spring and depending on the year a few even remain year round. Some of the most popular places to view eagles include; the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery, Sunwolf & Fergie's Cafe, the Eagle Run viewing platform on the Brackendale Dyke, the Mamquam River, the Squamish Estuary and from the middle fo the river on an Eagle Viewing River Float.

Related News, Blogs, Events & Experiences

A-Frame Brewing


Altus Mountain Guides

Backcountry Brewing

Brackendale Art Gallery

Britannia Mine Museum

Canada West Mountain School

Escape Route

Flying Spirit Rentals

Gillespie's Fine Spirits & Distillery

Howe Sound Brew Pub & Firebread Restaurant

Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures

Squishy's Family Fun Zone

The Squamish Store

Sunwolf Riverside Resort

Rope Runner Aerial Adventure Park

Valhalla Pure