Trip 025 - July 27, 2010 (Tuesday)
Grouse Grind Hike
North Vancouver BC
Liked: The exercise and the constant shade.
Of note: Very tough (though fairly short) trail, virtually no views, the trail is probably the most popular in British Columbia. Downhill travel is prohibited, forcing you to pay $8-10 for a gondola ride to the parking lot.
Vancouver, Coast & Mountains Backroad Mapbook (2010 edition) Coordinates: Page 11 (North Vancouver) D7. The latest edition of Backroad Mapbook for this and other regions, as well as GPS maps, are available for purchase at BackroadMapbooks.com.
Related Website: Grouse Grind Site by Grouse Mountain.
Grouse Grind is a hiking trail from the parking lot of the Grouse Mountain Recreational Area to the Recreational Area itself. A gondola runs to the top, and the hike is an alternative means of going up for those who are very fit. I did the Grind about seven years ago going downhill, and recall it being tough on the knees. Going up is not so hard on the legs as it is on your heart and your lungs, as there are virtually no flat stretches, and you are quickly gaining altitude all the time. Think of it as a natural Stairmaster. My time was 1 hour 10 minutes, and only one hiker (a super fit lady with a bell tied to her shoe to warn barely moving or resting hikers to give way) passed me on the way to the top. I was rejoiced at my physical prowess for a few minutes, but then went into the chalet, looked at the screen listing times for top hikers, and saw that the best female in the 70-79 years category did it in 1 hour 9 minutes this year. Bummer.
There were many people on the trail, despite it being a Tuesday. Many tourists and quite a few children were hiking The Grind. The weekends must be even busier. Take plenty of water, especially on a warm day. And, unless you are in a decent physical shape, consider taking a gondola to get to the top. It would be fair to say that it would take about 1 hour 30 minutes on average to get to the top, including frequent breaks to catch breath and drink water.
The only unpleasant surprise happens when you get to the top and see a huge "downhill travel prohibited" sign. There are no cops waiting to ambush downhill travelers, and some people did take advantage of that. I was told by the Grouse Mountain staff that the money are needed to maintain the trail. But get this: there is NO note regarding the prohibition of the downhill travel posted at the bottom of the trail. So, once you get to the top, you are very much ambushed into shelling $8-10 for a gondola ride down. And, in what has to be one of the most innovative marketing moves of all times, the downhill gondola ride costs $10, but if you buy a bottle of Whistler spring water in the cafe ($3 for 500 ml, or $4 for a litre), you get $5 off from the $10 gondola ticket cost. Thus, it is cheaper to buy water AND to ride the gondola down ($3+$10-$5=$8) than it is NOT to buy the water and pay $10 for the downhill gondola ticket.
Also, parking costs $5 for the day. I am not sure if there is still a free dirt lot available nearby, like it was seven years ago (September 2010 Update: yes, there is - on the right side as you approach the end of the road in your vehicle). A few bus routes (232, 236, 247) serve Grouse Mountain as well, including at least one tourist sightseeing bus. Photos of the parking lot A and of Grouse Mountain Recreational Area are available on the next page.
September 2010 UPDATE: there is now a "Downhill Travel Prohibited" note at the Grouse Grind trailhead. Also, the water promotion has ended, and the downhill ticket is $10. Finally, gravel parking lot D is free of charge, if you can find a place there.
2014 Update: Lot D parking now costs $2 for up to 2 hours, or $4 for the entire day.
1. The entrance to the trail is very close to the parking lot. The trail entrance would be to your right as you are driving on Capilano Road towards the parking lots, about 200 feet before parking lot A. Baden-Powell trail branches off shortly.