The Grouse Grind is one of the most infamous hikes in the Vancouver area and is known for its relentless 1.8 mile, 2830 step, 30% incline. So why, you ask, is a beginning out-of-shape hiker blogging about The Grind? I was asking myself the same question as my sister and I were forcing ourselves to heave one foot in front of the other in hopes that we would actually make it to the top and not have to disappoint my energetic 12 year old niece or worse, take the walk of shame back down the hill (it was my niece’s idea to do the hike and since her other choice was driving around downtown Vancouver in rush hour, the hike seemed like a good alternative at the time!). Hailing from near sea level, the elevation is nothing to dismiss as the air is much thinner which makes hiking uphill much more taxing. The trail is marked with 40 tags, and we were dreading our life choice of entertaining this hike by marker number 2! As the fit flew past, and even the children on the trail passed us with a bit more grace, we mustered our nerves and plodded ahead (stopping for a breath at every marker!). By halfway, we were gaining a bit more energy and shaving a bit of time off of our strides. Grind enthusiasts can actually purchase a timer that records their stats on the timer board at the top of the climb. This is by no means a trail for the inexperienced, but if you have some inner vigor, even out-of-shapers like us can complete it and are rewarded by the unprecedented views from the top, a bar/grill, and even mountain attractions. Of course, the next time, we will probably take the tram up! For me, this was a one and done.
Official Website: Grouse Mountain – Grouse Grind Hike
Location: Grouse Mountain – 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Length: 1.8 Miles – Ascent only; Descent is prohibited due to difficulty and safety issues. Hikers must descent via the Sky Tram.
Time: Average: 1.5-2 hours; Record: 25 mins; Our time: 3 hours (ouch!)
Kid Friendly? Depends on the child. There were many kids ranging in age from 4 – 12+ on the trail, though most were not excessively happy to be there. My 11 would have hated it, but my 12 year old niece was the reason for us doing the hike and she loved it (and hopes to take her more fit father next time so we don’t slow her down!).
Fido Friendly? No. Dogs are NOT permitted on this hike.
Cost: $4.00 to park all day; $10.00 to ride the Sky Tram down the mountain.
Trailhead Features: The trailhead has several parking lots to accommodate the masses of tourists that visit the mountain each day. There is also a free shuttle that brings folks up to avoid having to park themselves. There are flush toilets, a gift shop, and even a Starbucks!
The Trail: This trail is more of a physical challenge than a scenic hike. While scenery abounds at the top, the hike itself is exactly its namesake – a grind. Stairs, rock scrambles, stairs, then more stairs, all enclosed under a canopy of trees in the cool BC forest. It is heavily trafficked with both tourists and local fitness buffs.
Out-of-Shapers Difficulty Rating: Get the AED, I am DYING Here! What this hike lacks in distance, it makes up for in sheer difficulty.
Photo Visual Tour:
Warnings – Are we actually ready for this?
Easter Eggs (the fun little extras) – the reward at the end of this hike is a touristy area that includes a full restaurant, coffee shop, gift and clothing shops, grizzly bear viewing, bird shows, a sky theater, helicopter rides, and a fantastically funny lumberjack show. Locals doing the hike would bypass most of this, but if you are from out of town, relish in the fact that you made the hike up (and saved a bunch of money on the tram ride which runs about $45 both ways, or $10 down) and enjoy the views and entertainment at the top!
The tram down costs $10.00 and takes about 4 minutes. Enjoy the views of the sparkling river and Vancouver below.