Newport Beach (formerly Nexen Beach)
Nexen has been a favourite off-leash trail for dog walkers for many years, with outstanding views of the Stawamus Chief and Howe Sound. Dogs will enjoy forest trails and romps on the beach with their buddies. With the Oceanfront development of the area, it’s uncertain just what the future holds for this very special trail. The beach has been renamed Newport, and a new gravel road provides access the familiar parking lot on the tip of the waterfront.
The Nexen Beach Trail is flat, and is an easy 2.4km walk around the southern tip of the peninsula that juts into Howe Sound. It can be accessed from the parking lot. The eastern portion of the trail is the Oceanfront Interpretive Trail. The trailhead is at the south end of Galbraith Street. Doggie bag dispensers are provided, and dog owners are expected to clean up after their pets.
Squamish Dyke Trails
Dykes run beside the Squamish, Mamquam and Stawamus Rivers. Squamish dykes provide flat, scenic riverside walks, with wildlife viewing opportunities. Depending on the dyke selected, and trail entry point, dyke trails can provide up to 3 hours of enjoyable time with your dog.
The Squamish Dyke Trails begin in North Yards, and travel on or along the dyke that follows the Squamish River, all the way to The Spit. Most hikers park in the treed area opposite the railway yards, and begin their walk towards the jetty. A network of trails branch out from the Squamish Dyke Walk, providing many more opportunities for exploration. From The Spit you can watch the kiteboarders and wind surfers. It’s also a good place to view climbers on The Chief with binoculars.
The Mamquam Dyke Trail is 3.6km in length, flat, and has a well-maintained gravel surface. It follows the south shore of the Mamquam River, leading to Brennan Park Recreation Centre. The trailhead is the south end of the railway bridge over the Mamquam River, near Government Road.
The Stawamus Dyke Trail can be accessed from Valley Drive, in Valleycliffe. It follows the Stawamus Dyke to the Mac-Blo Logging Road.
Ray Peters Trail
The trail can be accessed by parking alongside Government Road, north of Depot Road in Brackendale, or from the lower parking lot at Don Ross Secondary School. It circumnavigates the Dump Trail area, and is considered the easiest of the trail loops in the area. The Ray Peters Trails is popular with mountain bikers and trail runners, so make sure your off-leash dog responds well to voice commands.
Set in tall, mature evergreen trees, the trail provides great views of the surrounding mountains. There are 16 other trails crisscrossing the area inside the Ray Peters loop.
The Squamish estuary trails explore marshes, wetlands and tidal mudflats. The Squamish River freshwater mixes twice daily with tidal Howe Sound saltwater, creating a rich ecosystem for fish and birds. There are 7 popular trails in this Wildlife Management Area.
The 1.2km Catermole Creek Trail travels south from Bailey Street, in Downtown Squamish, along the Catermole Creek tidal stream.
Off Spit Road, the Chelem Trail forms a 1.1km loop through the forest and eel grass. The trail can be accessed from the The Spit parking lot. From The Spit, you can watch the kiteboarders and windsurfers, and enjoy views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, the Stawamus Chief, Shannon Falls and Howe Sound.
Swan Trail travels north 1.8km out of the central portion of the Squamish Estuary. It follows the east side of Crescent Slough, an old channel of the Squamish River. Swan North Trail follows the river dyke 3.2km from Government Road, opposite McNamee Road, past the Railway Heritage Park, to the mouth of the Mamquam River. Trumpeter swans winter in the estuary from December to April, and interference needs to be kept at a minimum especially during the nesting and rearing cycle.
Connecting the Catermole Slough, at end of Cleveland Avenue, with Vancouver Street, 6th Avenue and Bailey Street, the Town Dyke Trail is a flat, easy walk that follows the west edge of Downtown Squamish.
The trailhead for the Waterfront Trail begins at the end of Cleveland Avenue, and the 1.0km walk follows Catermole Slough until it joins up with the Newport Beach loop trail. The Waterfront Trail and Nexen/Newport Beach Loop Trail are generally considered off-leash trails in Squamish.
Another short 1.4km walk is the Old North Dyke Trail. The trail can also be accessed from the west end of Vancouver Street. The flat trail connects with Swan South Trail, and is also known as the North Loop or Blue Heron Trail. Blue heron and other waterfowl sightings are common on the trail, and your dog should be kept under control, so the wildlife isn’t disturbed.
Another popular loop is the 1.4km Woodpecker Trail. It’s located off Spit Road, just west of Dentville. Woodpecker sightings are common on this less traveled forest trail.
Smoke Bluffs Trail
While Smoke Bluffs Park is best known as a rock climbing area, but it also has a scenic network of well-maintained hiking trails. The trail begins in the parking lot, just off Loggers Lane. The trail passes the Smoke Bluff Wall on the left, continuing towards the Neat and Cool climbing area. As the trail levels off you’ll come to a playground and picnic area. You’ll find a sign for the Loop Trail. The trail ranges from easy to intermediate, and it’s a good workout for you and your dog. There are 3 great viewpoints on the loop, and you’ll be able to take in Howe Sound, the town of Squamish, and The Chief. There are also several junctions that branch out to more secluded climbing areas, providing additional opportunities for exploration.
Murrin Park Loop Trail
Murrin Provincial Park is located 9km south of Squamish, on Highway 99. Murrin is an enjoyable place to spend the day, with a lake, picnic area, rock climbing walls and two primary trails. Most people will hike the main trails between 1 and 2 hours, but there are some additional branches of the trail network that can take more time to explore.
The original Browning Lake Trail winds its way around Browning Lake, through the forest and over the crags closest to the lake. It’s an easy walk. The more recent Murrin Park Loop Trail − also known as Quercus Trail − is a 1.8km loop, of intermediate difficulty. It meanders throught the heart of Murrin Lake Provincial Park, providing access to the more popular rock climbs in the park. Quercus Viewpoint offers a spectacular view of Howe Sound, and a second viewpoint allows you t rest a moment on a bench, as you look out over Howe Sound. Dogs should be kept on a leash in Murrin Park.
Brohm Lake Interpretive Forest is a 400 hectare network of trails about 7km north of Squamish, just off the Sea to Sky Highway. 10km of trails circle and branch out from the lake, and taking in all of them can become a 5 hour adventure. The Brohm Lake Trail, with optional High Trail and Cheakamus Loop Trail, take you around Brohm Lake, counter-clockwise, returning to the wooden bridge. The Brohm Lake Trail is an intermediate hike, with a few steeper sections along some of the rock bluffs around the lake. It’s 3.5km in length, and usually takes between 1 and 2 hours to complete. Brohm Lake is an ideal place for a doggie swim. Most of the trails are off-leash, but it’s important that your dog is kept under control.
Another popular trail option is the Thompson Trail down to Paradise Valley and the hatchery. Extending the hike to Paradise Valley adds about 1.5 to 2 hours, and it’s a steep climb.
Four Lakes Trail at Alice Lake
Four Lakes Trail is an easy, scenic hike in the forest. Dogs are not allowed in playgrounds or on the beach at Alice Lake, and they must remain on the leash on all trails. That being said, this is still one of the most popular hikes for dog owners.
For most hikers, this is an simple 2 hour walk, covering roughly 6km, through a loop of lush scenic trails. In the summer, the canopy of cedar, Douglas fir and hemlock trees provides welcome relief from summer heat. The trail winds its way past creeks, lakes, and the Cheekye River.
Most hikers begin by walking towards the beech of Alice Lake, and then follow the path counter-clockwise around the lake. There’s another parking lot there and a sign marking the head of the Four Lakes Trail.
The Stawamus Chief
‘The Chief’ is one of the classic hikes in Squamish, features North America’s second tallest granite monolith, which towers 702 metres above Squamish. Hikes to all three peaks begin with a short walk through a campsite. Your dog will have to be on the leash in the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park Campground area, but once the ascent begins, just outside the campsite, you can remove the leash. The Chief isn’t a technical hike, but it is challenging; primarily because the grade is continuous. Graded as intermediate, it’s a good workout for both you and your canine companion. One of the most demanding parts can be the ‘cardio stairs’ near the bottom.
There are cliffs to watch out for, so if your dog will be off leash, you must be able to keep it close with voice commands. When it’s wet, the rocks, roots and logs can become slippery. You’ll want to bring plenty of water and some snacks. The trail is well marked with sign posts and diamond trail blazes.
The first peak offers the best views of Howe Sound and the town of Squamish, and is the closest to the parking lot. It’s the most popular peak, and you’ll usually come across many other hikers. The round trip is 4km, and the hiking time varies between 90 minutes and 2 – 3 hours for most parties. There is a steel ladder, and some chains to provide assistance in some of the steeper sections. Your may have to help your dog navigate a few tricky areas.
The second peak is the largest of the summits, offering views of Howe Sound, the town of Squamish and the peaks of Garibaldi Provincial Park. The first and third peaks can both be seen from second peak. Even on busy days, there’s plenty of room at the top. The round trip is 5km, and most parties complete the hike in between 4 and 5 hours. Your dog should be able to manage this hike without any assistance.
The third peak can be accessed from either the Chief Trail or by passing over the North Gully from Second Peak. Third Peak offers an extraordinary view of Mt. Garibaldi and the town of Squamish, from the North Gully. The round trip is 7km, and you’ll want to allow 6 – 7 hours to complete the hike. Your dog should also be able to manage this hike without any assistance.
Sea to Summit Trail at Sea to Sky Gondola
This trail is an offshoot of The Chief trail. You can take a trail from the Sea to Sky Gondola parking lot over to The Chief trail, joining it just under the stairs. You’ll hike another 15 – 20 minutes, and be on the lookout for the main junction. There are sign posts and a big rock, and this is where The Chief hikers choose the route they’ll take to the peak of choice. You’re going to turn a hard right after the big rock. About halfway up to the Sea to Sky Gondola lodge, you’ll cross Upper Shannon Falls. It’s a great place to cool off.
This is a challenging hike, with a 900 metre gain, but the views at the top are worth it. As you near the summit, you’ll have to put your dog back on the leash. Dogs are not allowed in the lodge or on the observation decks. There are shaded areas where you can tie up your pooch while you grab or bite to eat or drink, or visit the restrooms. If you’re up for it, you’re welcome to hike all the way back to your car. But there’s an exciting alternative. For $15.00, you can buy a ride-down-only ‘Buster the Dog’ pass, and your dog can take the Gondola back to the bottom with you. The hike is 7.5km to the top and takes 3 – 5 hours.