A 2.9 km (1.8 miles) trail length with a 933 m (2800 feet) vertical rise makes Grouse Grind in Vancouver BC a perfect one hour (ish) cardio workout.
When mentioning to a client, that I was traveling to Vancouver for Canada Day and some hiking, he said “you’ve gotta do the Grouse Grind hike at Grouse Mountain.” I’m glad I listened to him as it was the perfect start to my Vancouver hiking weekend. Hop on bus 236 to Grouse Mountain and join me…
236 Grouse Mountain Bus to Grouse Grind from downtown Vancouver was a good choice. I opted to use the Metro transit system (Translink <- site has lots of maps) while staying in Vancouver, versus renting a car. I’m glad I did. The transportation system in Metro Vancouver was spectacular for getting to all my destinations. To hike Grouse Mountain, I boarded an early morning bus near the Marriott Hotel in the Coal Harbor area, with the 236 dropping me off within a few hundred yards of the Grouse Grind trailhead.
The Baden Powell Trail and Grouse Grind trail signs are nearby the trailhead. Once you’ve reached the Grouse Mountain parking lot, it’s easy to locate the Grouse Grind Trailhead, since lots of people seem to be heading in that direction. If you don’t see it at first glance just ask around or visit guest services.
Attention Hikers – New closing and opening times for the Grouse Grind trail will be posted and take effect (see photo). I am sharing the above photo because I discovered (unfortunately later) it’s really important to pause before heading up on the trail and go over your hiking plans (especially when traveling as a group).
I am an avid and active hiker, and living in Los Angeles, I most frequently hike Mojave/Colorado desert (like hiking to the rock of faith) and mountain terrain over long distances. Don’t let the seemingly short distance of the Grouse Grind fool you, it can be extremely dangerous, if proper preparations are not made and precautions not taken.
Follow the Hiker Responsibility Code and know your limits. On the day that I hiked, the weather on the mountain had changed dramatically for the worse (and it was July!). By the time I had reached my return to the parking lot, there were several paramedic vehicles at the trailhead, with emergency teams racing up to make rescues. Stay safe and have a plan.
The Notice to Hikers regarding exclusion of liability and assumption of risk appears at the main fence and along the trail (once that I noticed). This sign alone should be enough reminder for people to review their safety essentials and hiking plans and to take the climb seriously. I put my camera away at this point, and didn’t take it back out, until I reached the top.
Downhill Travel Prohibited was the first thing I saw when I reached the top and that was where my disappointment set in. My intention was to return the way I came, but that apparently wasn’t permitted (although I saw people doing so), so I decided to explore the Grouse Mountain area (it was raining) before returning to the parking lot on the sky tram.
The Grouse Mountain Grouse Grind Skyride will return you back to the parking lot, but there is a fee, I believe it’s $10 one-way. I encountered numerous people at the top of the trail that didn’t know downhill travel was not permitted and also didn’t know there would be a fee to use transportation back down the mountain. I don’t mind that there is a fee, but hopefully there is now some sort of sign clearly posted, near the beginning of the trail.
Watch out for grizzly bears on Grouse Mountain. You won’t see any grizzly bears along the trail (at least I don’t think you will) but if you have the time while up on the mountain you can take a walk over to the grizzly bear habitat (it’s fenced in). There is also a lumberjack show in the summer time, which is nearby the grizzly bear area.
The Grind Timer Program on a Grouse Mountain TV screen was a very cool sighting for us techies. I noticed a marker at the trailhead where it looked like people were activating timer chips. When I got to the top and saw this display I discovered what the purpose was for. What an excellent way to measure one’s performance for hiking the Grouse Grind. Notice the posted times are from about 43 minutes to 52 minutes. Depending on your endurance and your pace (and the amount of people ahead of you) you could finish in under 30 minutes (extremely fit) or take more than an hour and a half to complete the near two-mile all uphill hike.
Canadian Flag at Grouse Mountain underneath where the aerial tram boards to take you back down to the parking area. Look for the huge flag on your exit and take the tramway back down (don’t forget anybody from your party up on the mountain).
Hope you enjoyed the trip. In my next hiking post (it may be a while) we will visit Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and a trip through a Vancouver rainforest to Norvan Falls.