Cheam Peak Hiking and Camping Guide
Distance: 8.4km / 5.2miles return Time: 4-4.5 hours Elevation: 668m / 2,191 ft From Vancouver: 2 hr 40 mins Dog Friendly: Yes Toilets: Yes, at the trailhead
Cheam Peak is an epic peak on top of Cheam Mountain which you can hike to from the end of a pretty crazy 4×4 road in Chilliwack. When the clouds are clear, or low, the views from the top are insane and you might even be lucky enough to get a cloud inversion! The hike is 8.4km / 5.2 miles return with an elevation gain of 668 metres / 2,191 ft. The trailhead is just over 2.5 hours drive from Vancouver, making it the perfect weekend hiking adventure! In my opinion, Cheam Peak is the best hike in Chilliwack. For amount of hiking effort versus views, this hike is an 11/10. The downside to the hike is making it up the bumpy forest road.
There is a pit toilet located at the trailhead but no taps for drinking water so make sure you bring plenty. Cheam Peak is dog friendly.
In this guide, I will tell you everything you need to know in order to hike to Cheam Peak, including just how sketchy the 4×4 road is to reach the trailhead and whether or not your car will make it. I also provide some great tips on how to get a cloud inversion!
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Everything you need to know about hiking to Cheam Peak
? How hard is the hike to Cheam Peak?
We would classify Cheam Peak as a medium difficulty hike. At 8.4km / 5.2miles return, it is not too long, however there are sections that are fairly steep. Cheam Peak is all hiking, no scrambling required.
From the carpark, the hike starts out flat until you cross over the bridge and reach the meadows. From here you start the climb and don’t really stop until you reach the top.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
All in all, not the most difficult hike ever but we recommend taking it slow and steady, as it is steep. The hardest part of hiking Cheam Peak is definitely the drive to the carpark, as you will find that ALL of the comments on All Trails talk about.
? TIP: One way to make the hike easier, is to bring along a pair of hiking poles. They will help take the load off your legs on the way up, and save your knees on the way down. Purchase a pair of hiking poles here!
⌚ Cheam Peak Hiking Time
It takes around 4 – 4.5 hours to complete Cheam Peak. This time includes stopping for breaks and photos along the way and at the top. It does not include the drive to the trailhead.
? When is the best time to hike to Cheam Peak?
Cheam Peak is a great hike for those bluebird Summer days. If you go on an overcast day, there is risk that you may end up not seeing any views. This is what happened to us near the end of Summer 2022.
We camped up at Cheam Peak and spent the whole time in a sea of fog which also made it extremely cold. Because Cheam Peak is at a high elevation (2,104m / 6,902ft), it is a great place to try to catch a cloud inversion! For those who haven’t heard of a cloud inversion, it is when you get high enough to be above the clouds. You might have seen a few when flying in a plane.
You could also choose to hike Cheam Peak in the late Summer or early Fall to try to get a cloud inversion.
Please make sure that no matter what time of the year you choose to hike, you should always check the mountain forecast before you go. The weather up in the mountains can be significantly different from the city.
?Tips on getting a cloud inversion?
• Go at sunrise or sunset (sunrise is more likely)
• Go in late Summer or early Fall (August,
• Make sure it’s high humidity (90% or higher)
• There needs to be some clouds in weather
forecast (partly cloudy conditions are optimal)
⛺ Camping on Cheam Peak
Camping is not permitted on Cheam Peak. There are no camping signs at the trailhead and the beginning of the meadows. The reason for this is that the area is too sensitive for tents and fires. In saying this, there was no one around enforcing this when we were there and there is a rocky area at the top above the treeline where you can ensure that you don’t damage the environment.
Storing your food
If you do choose to camp, make sure you are bear and animal aware and have either a bear canister that you can store far away from your tent or can do a bear hang. If you choose to do a hang, you will have to walk fairly far away from your tent as there are no trees at the top.
There was no water at the top when we were there, only at the bottom and at the start of the trail where the bridge crosses over to the Meadows. However, we were there in late Summer and this may change throughout the year.
? Wildlife on Cheam Peak
There are black bears that reside in the area so please ensure you are up to date on your bear safety and are carrying bear spray with you.
The road to the Cheam Peak Trailhead
The topic that everyone wants to talk about and probably the reason that you are googling right now! The road to Cheam Peak is unfortunately not the easiest to drive up. You definitely don’t want to try this in a nothing less that an AWD SUV but we would definitely recommend a 4×4 or even a buggy if you can get your hands on one! We saw quite a few SUVs that had made it almost all the way to the top, but mostly 4x4s.
The road is extremely long and you have to cross loads of deep water bars so this is where a high clearance vehicle will come in handy.
Not only is the road long and complicated but it is also extremely narrow in sections. This is fine until you have someone else coming from the opposite direction and then you have to try to shuffle as far to the side as you can to let them pass. Not as scary if you are on the mountain side, but the other side of the road is literally a cliff so we found this to be one of the scary things about the road.
Near the end of the forest road, you will reach a really dodgy, steep section which is where a lot of cars choose to stop. We decided to park here as we weren’t confident enough and we walked an extra 2km each way to get to the trailhead. There is room here for around 7ish cars to park.
Cheam Peak is extremely popular so if you decide to hike it, come very early in the morning to get a park or much later in the afternoon.
Good luck and know the limits of your driving capabilities and your car’s!
What to wear
Hiking Boots – Kerry’s loves the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Our favourite hiking socks are Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew Socks and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are the Tech Lite II Crewe T-Shirts from Icebreaker! Mens is linked here and Women’s is linked here.
Kerry’s Leggings – Kerry wears leggings on every hike and her favourites are the Lululemon Align pant.
Men’s Hiking Pants – A great option for men’s hiking pants are the KUHL Renogade Rock Pants.
Fleece – Our favourite fleeces are the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip (Kerry’s) and a Mac Pac Fleece from Australia (Dave’s).
Puffer Jacket – Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourites are the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket and Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
Rain Jacket – We bring our raincoats along on all of our hikes, because you know.. just in case!
Beanie – Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
Hat – A hat is so so important when hiking during Summer in BC as the sun is extremely strong. Tilley makes some really great hats for hiking.
Check prices for Tilley hats on REI here.
Check prices for Tilley hats on MEC here.
Day Backpack – Our favourite backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack.
Overnight Backpacks – Both of our camping backpacks are from Osprey. Dave has the Osprey Exos 58 Pack and I have the Osprey Aura AG 65 Pack.
Your Camera Gear! We never go anywhere without ours! Check out our camera gear here.
The Trail to Cheam Peak
Overall the hike is absolutely stunning. In Summer, you might be lucky to be hiking when the wildflowers have bloomed which is really beautiful.
The trail from the carpark starts along a flat wide trail. This lasts for around 15-20 minutes and then you will descend into a meadow and cross a bridge over a little stream.
After the meadow, this is where the fun begins and you will start the incline to the top. As you climb higher and higher, make sure you take your time and stop to take in the views because they are insane!
After a lot of huffing and puffing, you will reach the false summit, where you will find a bench. Take a sit and enjoy the view while resting your feet! Once you are ready, continue on up the ridgeline to the summit. Be careful here as the path is a little slippery from the shale. The views from here are absolutely insane!
Leave No Trace
Whenever you are enjoying the the beautiful nature that our world has to offer, remember to leave no trace (LNT)! Respect the beautiful places that make British Columbia beautiful and take out everything that you take in, take only photos and respect the wildlife and other people. You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.
We loved Cheam Peak but we wish that the road to reach the carpark wasn’t so bad. Cheam Peak is one of the best hikes in the Chilliwack area in the way of views versus amount of elevation. When we hiked to Cheam Peak, the peak was covered in fog for the majority of the time we were there, so we plan on redoing this hike again in the future hopefully in better weather!
For a list of the Best Hikes Near Vancouver, check out our guide or alternatively, if you are looking for some easier hikes with amazing views, check out our Top 10 Beautiful but Easy Hikes Near Vancouver Guide.