Trip 025 - July 27, 2010 (Tuesday)

Grouse Grind Hike

North Vancouver BC


Distance From Vancouver (South End of Lions Gate Bridge) to Gondola:
7.4 km. Turn left on Capilano Road in North Vancouver right after crossing the Lions Gate Bridge. You can also use Capilano Road exit from Highway 1 and go North.

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 at BackroadMapbooks.com.

Related Website: Grouse Grind Site by Grouse Mountain.

Other Trips in North Vancouver area: Crown Mountain Trail Hike, Mount Seymour Trail Hike, Goat Mountain Trail Hike, Grouse Mountain Recreational Area, Norvan Falls Trail Hike.

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.


Grouse Grind trail entrance North Vancouver British Columbia Canada

2. Before you head up, read this notice, explaining very thoroughly what can happen to you on Grouse Grind, and who not to blame for any of that.


Photo of a Notice to Grouse Grind Hikers

3. So, today the trail closes at 7:30 PM.


Grouse Grind trail closure time in the Summer

4. The trail begins with one of the very few level stretches.


Grouse Grind hiking trail North Vancouver British Columbia Canada

5. And then it's up. Bring water. This is the split where Grouse Grind goes straight, and Baden Powell trail goes right.


Hikers on Grouse Grind North Vancouver BC Canada

6. That's what Grouse Grind looks like much of the way.


Grouse Grind

7. The trail is in very good shape. I recall it was rougher seven years ago. Nice stone stairs.


Stone stairs Grouse Grind North Vancouver British Columbia Canada

8. One quarter mark. People resting.


Grouse Grind 1/4 mark

9. And then more climbing awaits. I spent some time in the vicinity of a couple with two boys of about 8 and 10 years of age. Dad was slightly ahead with the eldest boy, and mom slightly behind with the youngest. You could tell that the eight-year-old was tired well before the half mark. He stopped and asked his mom how soon they would reach the top. To which the mom replied: "In about forty minutes. On you go." It was said very matter-of-factly, and I thought - this is how you raise a man, not a sissy boy.


Grouse Grind North Vancouver British Columbia Canada

10. My times were as follows: start to 1/4 - 19 minutes; 1/4 to half point - 16 minutes; half to 3/4 mark (pictured below) - 20 minutes; 3/4 mark to finish - 15 minutes. Total: 1 hour 10 minutes.


3/4 mark of Grouse Grind hiking trail

11. On this trail, you are either passing people when they catch breath, or you get passed when it is your time to take a break.


Grouse Grind hikers North Vancouver British Columbia Canada

12. The end is near!


Approaching the end of Grouse Grind North Vancouver British Columbia Canada

13. And then...


Downhill Travel Prohibited note on Grouse Grind

14. Oh, well, head to the chalet and check out the top times for today and year-to-date.


Grind Timer Program Results Displayed inside the Peak Chalet

15. Participants in the Grind Timer Program swipe their card at this device at the beginning of the trail. The second device is at the top by the chalet.


Grind Timer Card Swipe

If your physical condition allows for it, Grouse Grind would sure be one of the most memorable hikes in your life. Highly recommended as a good measuring stick of your stamina and determination :)



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