Squamish Running Routes

From flat and fast gravel and forest trails to vertical granite and technical trails, Squamish has it all! If you’re curious to find some new running routes in town, I thought I’d share some of my favourite routes.

The newer, upper section of Legacy Climb Trail at dusk.

Areas for running

A friend of mine was moving to Squamish, and she asked me: “Which neighbourhood would be the best for lunch runs?” My response was quite funny, basically “every neighbourhood”. It made me realize how lucky we are, every neighbourhood in town has running trails within sight!

If you’re new to town, here are some of the awesome spots to explore for running:

  • Valleycliffe / Crumpit Woods: multi-use trails connect right from Valleycliffe all the way to the Diamond Head trail system. You can also spend a ridiculous amount of time exploring the many secret gems around Chief, Slhanay, and the Sea to Sky Gondola FSR.
  • Downtown Squamish: downtown is close-by to the Chief and the Gondola, and there’s a glacial estuary at the end of Third Avenue. Soon, there will be an Oceanfront trail that follows the entire Howe Sound waterfront.
  • Dentville: there’s an awesome dike beside the Squamish River, accessible from Dentville. The dike also offers some fun little single-track trails off to the sides, which meander through the beautiful estuary.
  • Garibaldi Estates: Coho Park has a beautiful multi-use trail, that’s a perfect starting point to link up to Alice Lake, or the Diamond Head trails.
  • Garibaldi Highlands: access to one of the most popular trail areas in Squamish– the Diamond Head Mountain bike trails, which climb all the way to Garibaldi Provincial Park.
  • Tantalus / Skyridge: this is an access point to the beautiful Alice Lake Provincial Park trails, and Debecks, which offers up a ton of awesome vertical routes.
  • Brackendale: there’s the Brackendale dyke, the Ray Peters trail network with tons of cool little singletracks in the forest, and quiet country-feel roads with insane views.

You can see what I mean, right? Literally every neighbourhood has something special.

Routes

After indulging in thousands of kilometers since I moved to town, here are some of my favourite routes in Squamish and within a close driving distance!

Flat and flowy routes

I have a large list of faster trails for weekday runs, to maximize my lunch hour or pre-dinner trail time. These routes are also great spots for workouts. Some are completely flat, others are very flowy with gentle climbs. Here are some of my favourites!

Squamish River.
Route NameSurfaceTypeDistanceVertNotesRoute
Looking Glass & Ray PetersTrailLoop11.2 km206mNice forest loop!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829230513950333080
Riverside & CovenantTrail / DikeLoop12.5 km162mFollows the Squamish and Mamquam rivers!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825792130638523270
Alice LakeTrailLoop12.3 km268mBeautiful forest!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825789634901261120
WonderjacksTrailLoop9 km206mForest!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825790408192867384
Spit RoadGravel DikeOut & back13.1 km7mFlat and fast with views of Howe Sound! Best to avoid mid-day in summer as the road gets dusty if it’s busyhttps://www.strava.com/routes/2825793028486191160
FarthersideTrail / GravelLoop11.8 km375mAnother nice forest run!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825807950188430144
Paved Corridor Trail bike pathRoadOut & back12.2 km20mA bike path that’s separated from traffic, which will get lights soon for nighttime running! This path is great for workouts, and for stroller runninghttps://www.strava.com/routes/2825787451692733248

Super-hilly routes

Sometimes you want a more hikey run, or maybe you’re training for something with a lot of vert. Here are some of my go-to’s!

Squamish via ferrata
Route NameSurfaceTypeDistanceVertNotesRoute
Debecks TraverseTrailLoop8 km492mFun technical trails + views!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825796699906140038
Megacy ClimbTrailLoop16 km813mVery long runnable climb!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825806057115742264
Evac & Gondola FSRTrailLoop15.9 km984mSteep uphill (hiking grade) then an FSR descent. If you’re watching closely, you’ll notice optional singletrack trails off the side of the FSR.https://www.strava.com/routes/2829233808651217898
Chief 3 Peaks Via FerrataTrail / Rock SlabLoop8 km851mThis route involves ropes & rungs & slab, and is hard to follow. Good to have navigation tools with you! I would say, leave your pup at home for this one.https://www.strava.com/routes/2825803401519495046

Runnable long runs

Squamish is ideal for flowy long runs. These are part of my playlist of long runs…

Lower Word of Mouth Trail, which is a great connector for loops from the Highlands and Northside Connector.
Route NameSurfaceTypeDistanceVertNotesRoute
Northside Connector & Word of MouthTrail / GravelLoop19.5 km601mThis route has a bit of everything– a good chunk of trail, some rolling gravel FSR, and a couple kilometers of road at the end.https://www.strava.com/routes/2825795589294041990
Thompson Trail & Squamish LakesTrail / RoadLoop33 km951mVenture to lots of the great lakes in Squamish, including Alice, Cat, and Brohm. A few kilometers are on country roads to link everything in Brackendale and Paradise Valley Road.https://www.strava.com/routes/2825798831932410688
Paradise Valley Road to Starvation LakeCountry Road / GravelOut & back25.6 km254mBeautiful road that turns into gravel and then trail about 2 km from Starvation Lake. Great for workouts and marathon training runs, or just jumping in the lake in summer!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825797688075923264
Squamish Town LoopInterurban Trails / Gravel DikeLoop26.7 km176mA good quick loop for faster running, also great way to explore around Squamish!https://www.strava.com/routes/2825809689638663046
Lava Flow TrailsTrail / Gravel FSRLoop26 km745mThe Lava Flow trails are a cool place to witness the 15km stretch of ancient lava flow from Opal Cone!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829370839878769642
Sea to Sky Trail to WhistlerTrail / RoadPoint to Point46.8 km968mI wouldn’t do this route if you despise country roads, as Sea to Sky Trail starts with a long section through Brackendale and Paradise Valley Road. Be warned that there are 2 highway running stretches, but the trail section from Starvation Lake north is beautiful and worth it!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829371254746425978

Summer mountain runs

Once the snowpack melts in July, these are some of my favourite classic Coast Mountain runs within a 30-minute drive from Squamish. These are all must-do’s! Note that all of these routes take you to beautiful places outside of cell reception, so it’s a good idea to bring a SPOT or Inreach device. (The Singing Pass route is an exception, as it’s within Whistler resort.)

Shot by Mark Locki, running the Howe Sound Crest Trail with Tara in 2018.
Route NameSurfaceTypeDistanceVertNotesRoute
Elfin Lakes & Opal ConeTrailOut & back32.4 km1568mGaribaldi Park beyond Elfin Lake is incredible. Opal Cone is a cinder cone volcano, running there gives you an amazing view of the Garibaldi Neve.https://www.strava.com/routes/2825802502854965126
Elfin Lakes & Mamquam LakeTrailOut & back40.1 km1947mAnother gem past Elfin, this route takes you into amazing volcanic running.https://www.strava.com/routes/2825800950780859448
Howe Sound Crest TrailTrailPoint to Point25.8 km1824mMy favourite trail! Views of Howe Sound, amazing gnarly terrain, alpine lakes! You can make a shorter version of this classic by starting in Lions Bay, heading up the Brunswick trail, and joining HSCT for its second, downhill half.https://www.strava.com/routes/2829368741248794776
Capilano Mountain (Furry Creek)Trail / GravelOut & back24.1 km1730mThe route starts as a gravel FSR run and then eventually becomes nicer and nicer. Amazing views of the Sky Pilot mountains, and the whole Howe Sound Crest trail!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829408506091642662
Watersprite LakeTrailOut & back17.2 km708mThis trail has a nice runnable climbing grade! It gets very busy with hikers on weekends, I find it’s ideal to go on a weeknight. The lake at the end is incredible!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829407636192575098
Goat Ridge Point to PointTrail / Gravel FSRLoop19.1 km1517mGoat Ridge is an amazing large, wide ridge. It’s fun to make it a loop, by taking the super-steep trail up from Petgill Lake, and then descending the Disneyland bike trail into Britannia. To complete the loop, there are a few km on gravel FSR after Disneyland Trail to reach Britannia, and then 2.5km on the highway back to the start. If you prefer, avoid the highway running using a short car drop, leaving one in Britannia and one at Murrin Park!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829369595164180632
Garibaldi Park: Rubble Creek to Helm Creek with Garibaldi Lake & Panorama RidgeTrailPoint to Point27.9 km1782mOne of the most beautiful trails, ever. Run past cinder cone volcanoes, through meadows, and up above the best view of Garibaldi Lake!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829370134246567064
Singing Pass (Whistler)TrailLoop21 km1659mMost people finish their run at the Roundhouse Lodge and then download the gondola, which is free! The resort prefers this because in summer, the terrain below is part of the mountain bike park. This makes it an amazing uphill workout!https://www.strava.com/routes/2829370481132140522


Well, that should give you a few weeks’ worth of running… 😉

Happy trails!

Photo of Tara and I by the talented Hilary Matheson, shot in 2019 from the annual Halloween Squamish women’s run!

Imposter Syndrome

I love it when a name for something is coined, and it makes you feel understood, like you’re not the only one. That other people experience it, too.

For me, the name imposter syndrome does just that. I’ve felt this lurking feeling of unworthiness in various situations in my life, but without consciously being aware of it. Once I heard the term imposter syndrome, the thought pattern finally reared its ugly head, making its way into my conscious awareness. Now that I’m aware of it, I can trap those thoughts, and choose whether to believe them, or more often, simply kill them. Not only that, the name told me that it’s a common occurrence, and that it often doesn’t reflect reality.

Photo by my talented friend, Mark Locki. Trail running along BC’s majestic Howe Sound Crest Trail.

In my running adventures, I’ve been lucky to rarely feel imposter syndrome, as I’ve been a runner for my entire life. But even then, I’ve felt it. Standing at the start line of UTMB’s CCC (2017) and TDS (2018) races in the elite section at the front, I felt a deep sense of “what the hell am I doing here?!”. Even though it’s based on a system of points driven by the past results I achieved, I still couldn’t help but feel like I was an imposter. Even though the race has decided that I belong in that section, and I’ve competed at the World Championships in my sport, I haven’t given myself permission to belong there. I’m waiting for some breakthrough, some crazy performance that will come, to convince myself that I belong. I’m starting to think that I’m giving myself an ever-raising bar to jump past being an imposter.

Photo of Tory, Tara and Niki along a run to Watersprite Lake, BC.

Aside from running, I more often feel like an imposter when I’m skiing. Even though I ski regularly in the resort and in the backcountry, I can’t help but always feel like “I’m not really a real skier”. I’ve heard lots of people talk about themselves in this way when they describe running. “I’m not really a runner”, they say, when they haven’t yet convinced themselves they deserve the term yet, even though they run a couple times a week. I find this crazy, and deeply fascinating. What do you really need to do, to achieve the status of a runner?! In my mind, I think you’re very much “a runner” if you jog once a week. My situation with skiing is the same– I’ve resigned myself to this subordinated category of “not a real skier”. I’m not sure what’s blocking us in these situations, perhaps it’s a way of protecting our ego, to always just tell ourselves “that’s okay, I’m not really an X”. Whatever the case, I do feel that we will never really improve, until we start defining ourselves as a full-fledged, “real” skier or runner or writer, or whatever. If we spend the time doing something on a regular basis, we deserve to consider ourselves a full member of that community, not a second-class citizen.

Photo of my friend Chris skinning up on a fun day out in Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC.

My fascination with these topics is that they extend to everything we do, from outdoor to work, and other life adventures. I strongly believe that if we’re denying ourselves permission to identify with a sport or profession, then we’re holding ourselves back. For myself, I only just started calling myself “a writer”. I’m not sure how many thousands of words I had to write to get there — but it involved a lifetime of writing, a recent 80,000-page manuscript, various jobs as a ghostwriter and technical writer, and all the posts in this blog. Some people have to take an undergrad or Master’s degree to feel like they’re really qualified to be a certain thing they want to be. Of course, learning and studying is a wonderful thing, but I do feel like sometimes, the extra education is just a highly-structured way of getting to a place where we can deserve to be part of a certain group. Once we finally give ourselves permission to identify as something, we’re more likely to feel invited to take part in that community, and fully learn and grow.