Best Places to Explore the Squamish Rainforest
Best Places to Explore the Squamish Rainforest
Take a step into the Squamish rainforests and surround yourself with towering trees dripping with technicolour moss. High above your head, the canopy will shelter you from the elements and vibrant sunbeams may shine down at a moment's notice. Breath in the fresh air and enjoy the bounty of biodiversity. Below are the best places to take a walk on the wild side, in the Squamish rainforest.
Lake views at Alice Lake Provincial Park | Photo: @haileyvandyke
Situated in one of the most densely tree-covered areas in all of Squamish, Alice Lake Provincial Park offers acres upon acres of rainforest with a large trail network that passes by four lakes. We recommend taking a walk around the 4 Lakes Trail (6.5 km) to best enjoy the views. View a trail description here.
Access: Park at either the Stump Lake or Alice Lake parking lot and follow the 4 Lakes Trail signs in either direction.
While Shannon Falls itself is the main attraction in Shannon Falls Provincial Park, the gentle walking trail to the two scenic viewpoints passes by a grove of old-growth trees that is equally as impressive. Meander through the trees and take in the beauty of their mighty canopy. Be sure to spend some time walking by Shannon Creek to check out the multitude of ferns, mosses and other plant life living by the water's edge.
Access: From Squamish head south on Highway 99 and take the exit for Shannon Falls Provincial Park, about 2km past the Sea to Sky Gondola. Additional parking can be found across the street in the Darrel Bay parking lot.
A local gem that is quickly becoming a favourite waterfall viewing spot. Tucked away several kilometres down the Mamquam Forest Service Road, Mamquam Falls cascades between dense layers of forests. There is a marked viewing platform a few hundred metres in front of the falls that offers sweeping views of the main falls as well as a smaller waterfall on the left-hand side. The viewing platform is sheltered by giant tree trunks and lined with moss-covered earth. Depending on the water level the river can be a shade of turquoise or foamy green, it is a spectacular sight to see.
Access: From Highway 99 turn onto the Mamquam Forest Service Road. About 5km down the road take the first left turn onto Powerhouse Springs road and continue to a parking area near a yellow gate. Park your car and continue on foot downhill past the yellow gate. After a few hundred meters arrive at a large bridge overtop of the falls. The trailhead is on the lefthand side of the bridge.
Well regarded as one of the most beautiful roads in Squamish, Paradise Valley Road cuts through an enchanting piece of rainforest that is straight out of a storybook. Teal blue creeks traverse the roadside forest floor and branches dripping in long, radiant moss hang overhead. The scenic drive is best enjoyed on a moist or rainy day when the greens go technicolour and the creeks run high. Please be advised the trails alongside the road are privately owned, please keep your exploration to the sides of the road and do not trespass.
Access: Drive north from Squamish along the Sea to Sky Highway and take the Squamish Valley Road exit across from Alice Lake Provincial Park. Turn onto Paradise Valley Road right after passing Fergie's Cafe. The best stretch of forest can be found outside the Cheakamus Centre.
Local's tip: Stop at Fergie's Cafe for brunch on your way to Paradise Valley Road. The charming, riverside eatery is a local's favourite and a scenic stopping point along the way.
Surround yourself with forest and ocean views at Murrin Provincial Park. The views along the Murrin Park Loop Trail are some of the most varied in all of Squamish, the trail starts at the lake and quickly heads into the forest where creeping roots and a coulor wheel of greens, greys and yellows will surround your every step. Along the loop, there are peek-a-boo ocean views and a spectacular granite vista overlooking Howe Sound. You can extend your hike by combining the trail with Jurassic Ridge, a trail so loaded with foliage it looks as it's straight out of The Land Before Time.
Access: Located beside Highway 99 about 10 minutes north of Squamish. To access the Murrin Park Loop Trail walk along the right side of the lake and watch for the marked junction just past the second picnic area beside the lake. Follow the loop trail signage.
"The Farm" Bouldering Area in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
The Farm bouldering area
The Stawamus Chief is the second-largest granite monolith in North American and at one time it was even larger! Hundreds of gigantic boulders rest at it's base, the result of thousands of years of erosion changing the mountain's form. Explore the mighty boulders and take in the magnitude of the gigantic rocks caked in decades worth of moss. You will notice some sides of the boulders have been stripped of moss for climbers looking to scale the rocks. The mishmash of textures and colours is a fun place to explore.
Access: From Highway 99 take the Mamquam Forest Service Road exit and park your car about 2km down the road. Several trailheads can be found on the right side of the road.