22/04/2024

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Grouse Grind Trail – Hiking to the Peak of Vancouver 2023

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Grouse Grind Trail – Hiking to the Peak of Vancouver 2023

The Grouse Grind is a short, but steep hiking trail climbing 853 m (2800 feet) vertically from the base of Grouse Mountain. This steep trail in Grouse Mountain Regional Park is only 2.9 km (1.8 mi) long. Being notoriously grueling this one-way trail up the face of Grouse Mountain has been nicknamed “mother nature’s stairmaster”. For many, the Grind is more a fitness challenge than a hike. Some aim to conquer Grouse Mountain once, but for many fit Vancouverites and avid hikers, this is a great place for training. Meeting the challenge of doing the Grouse Grind was one of my favorite active things to do in Vancouver.

Book your Grouse Mountain Admission Here!

Grouse Grind Hike Vancouver
Climbing the 2830 stairs of The Grind is a challenging hour or two

When is the Grouse Grind Open

The Grouse Grind Trail is closed during the winter months when there is snow or ice on the trail. The trail is open from May to October if conditions allow. See Metro Vancouver for the latest info.

Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain rising 1250 meters ( 4100 feet) above the city is often called ‘the Peak of Vancouver’. The Mountain gets its name from the sooty grouse,  a species of forest-dwelling grouse (a bird) commonly found throughout the mountain. Grouse Mountain Resort is a quick ride from Stanley Park and other highlights.

Located only 15 minutes by public transportation from downtown Vancouver the mountain has become the city’s outdoor amusement park with a range of activities and entertainment for all seasons open the whole year. In winter on Grouse Mountain skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, and more winter activities are very popular. There is a range of activities for summer such as disk golf, chairlift rides, paragliding, and of course the famous Grouse Grind hike up the mountain. There is also a lot of entertainment available all year including a 100-seat mountaintop theatre and a wildlife refuge.

Grouse Mountain Tours

North Shore Day Trip from Vancouver – Some of the highlights of Vancouver. Enjoy spectacular views walking over Lions Gate Bridge and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Go and explore the top of Grouse MountainGrouse Mountain Skyride included, Round-trip hotel transport.

Get there yourself, only want a Grouse Mountain ticket? (includes the Skyride)

Accommodation in Vancouver

Highly rated accommodation in Vancouver with a good location.

Grouse Grind

The Grouse Grind is a legendary hiking trail in North Vancouver renowned for its difficulty. It deserves this reputation climbing just shy of 3000 stairs with an incredible 800 m elevation gain over only 3 km, yes it is steep, the average inclination is 28º, with the toughest section at about 40º! The trail is primarily used for hiking and running. Most of the climb is stairs, but some sections have big tree roots and rocks on the trail. The Grouse Grind gets super crowded with more than 100 000 people climbing it in a season according to the official Grouse Mountain website. This trail only goes one direction, UP. Descending is not allowed on the trail, hikers take the gondola down, a $15 ride.

I enjoyed hiking Grouse Mountain, but it is definitely not the best hiking trail in Vancouver, being short, steep, and crowded with limited viewpoints. On a clear day, you do get some nice views. It is excellent as a workout with many locals doing the Grind regularly. The hike is a nice day excursion in Vancouver for tourists, a challenging walk with plenty to do when reaching the top. We rate the trail as a moderate difficulty due to its length, even though it is steep it is not a very long hike, taking about 2 hours. For experienced hikers walking up the Grouse Grind and exploring some of the other backcountry routes on Grouse Mountain is a good option. There are plenty of well-marked routes such as Dam Mountain, Little Goat Mountain, Goat Mountain, and Thunderbird Ridge are described here. Crown Mountain.

Grouse Grind Map
Grouse Grind Map created with our Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Watch

Check out our Guide to the Best Hikes in and Around Vancouver

Grouse Grind Cost

Climb Grouse Mountain is free. You are not allowed to hike down the Grind, to come down with Skyride costs $15 including the shuttle ride back to Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. The only free option down is to hike down the BCMC trail.

To take the Skyride up and town costs $47.97 including several activities, buy your ticket here

Skyride Gondola up Grouse Mountain
Taking the Skyride is the easiest way to get up and down Grouse Mountain with some amazing views!

Grouse Grind Trail Statistics

The reported statistic of the Grouse Grind is as follows – distance: 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles), elevation Gain: 853 meters (2,800 feet) from 274m to 1127m, Summit: 1,127 meters (3,700 feet), Total Stairs: 2,830 

Measuring my hike up Grouse Mountain with my Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Watch gave me the following measurements:

  • Distance: 3.27 kilometers (2.03 miles) 
  • Elevation Gain: 785 meters (2575 feet) from 287m to 1076m
  • Summit: 1127 meters (3,700 feet)
  • Time: 1h13min

The fastest time for the Grouse Grind is 25:01 (the men’s record was set in 2010) and the women’s record is 30.52 set in 2014. Avid hikers often buy a Grind Timer Card that contains a radio frequency chip to track their performance and see how they rank against other Grouse Grinders.

The Grind Route

Mother Nature’s Stairmaster is well-marked with signs showing distance, elevation, and how you are progressing.

Markers on the Grouse Trail – there are 4 different kinds of markers on the trail;

  • small orange markers just mark where the trail goes
  • large markers indicate what portion of the trail you have completed e.g. 1/4 or 1/2 way, these markers indicate the progress in elevation not distance, because the trail is not very steep at the start it takes a long time to reach the 1/4 mark.
  • 40 smaller marker plates on the trees which measure trail distance. They are labeled with “GG” and are numbered from #1 at the bottom up to #40 at the top so marker No. 10 is 1/4-way, no. 20 is halfway, etc.
  • orange spray-painted markers on the trees indicate the actual trail distance.

At the starting point, there is a trail information board and a Grouse Grind Chip timer to start counting the time for regular grinders that own a chip. There are toilets in the parking lot if you need to make a stop before the trail starts. The trail begins just to the right of the Grouse Mountain Gondola starting when you pass the gate and a small bridge. The route starts climbing from the start, but it is not too steep in the beginning, it took us 20 minutes to reach the first quarter mark clearly shown with a sign. If you are struggling before the first quarter of the hike it might be a good idea to turn around. We reached the halfway point at about 700 m above sea level 1.9 km from the starting point about 38 minutes after beginning the hike. When you reach halfway according to the elevation signs (the big signs) you are past the halfway mark distance-wise, with about 1.4 of 3.2 km left (GG plate #23).

The last half is the steepest and took longer than the first half even though the distance is shorter.

The average time bottom of Grouse Mountain is about 1h30min to 2 hours to reach the top of the Grind.

You can buy a ticket for the Gondola ride down for $15 at the Grouse Mountain Chalet on the top. There was a long line at the Gondola, but it went fairly quickly. We were surprised at how busy the mountain was at the top, but obviously, many people don’t hike up taking the gondola both ways. If you want to hike down you can do so with the BCMC trail.

The BCMC trail Alternative Hike on Grouse Mountain

How can you hike down Grouse Mountain? – take the BCMC trail. The BCMC Trail is located just east of the Grouse Grind and offers a less busy route to hike up the mountain, it is possible to walk down using this route. The trail is about the same distance as the Grind and starts at the same place branching off onto the Baden Powell trail, then left at the junction up the steep hill to the Grouse Mountain chalet. The junction to the Baden Powell trail is a couple of meters after passing the gate. We did not hike down this route.

Hiking down the BCMC trail is not recommended because the trail is very steep and narrow, and has a very hard technical descent. It is however possible and regularly done by Grinders, skipping the $15 gondola fee going down.

A steep climb up the Grouse Grind in Vancouver.
A steep climb up the Grouse Grind in Vancouver.

Things to do on Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain Resort has many exciting activities that are available all year round; the Skyride, Mountain Ziplines, Grizzly Bear Wildlife Sanctuary, Theatre In the Sky, and Eye of the Wind.

In Spring, Summer, or Fall you can enjoy the Lumberjack Show, Birds in Motion Demonstration, Disc Golf, the Super Skyride, Paragliding, and Chairlift Rides.

In winter this is an amazing venue for Skiing and Snowboarding, Night Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating in the heart of the city. 

signs on Grouse Mountain.
Signs on Grouse Mountain.

Getting to Grouse Mountain

Renting a car is definitely the easiest way to get around. For car rental, I recommend using Discover Cars to find the best deal.

Grouse Mountain is located at 6400 Nancy Greene Way in North Vancouver. Parking is available if you arrive by car. In the summer, a General Admission ticket includes a transfer from Canada Place in downtown Vancouver to Grouse Mountain and back. If you do the Grind and just take the Skyride down for $15 you can take the free shuttle back to Canada Place in Vancouver. Buy your ticket here: Grouse Mountain ticket

Get to the Grouse Grind by public transport

Take the Seabus from Waterfront Station, located adjacent to Canada Place, to the Lonsdale Quay and connect with Bus #236 directly to Grouse Mountain. To return to downtown Vancouver, take Bus #236 from Grouse Mountain to the Lonsdale Quay and ride the Seabus to Waterfront Station.

Pack for the Grouse Grind

For the Grind a Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Watch is a great tool for hiking measuring speed, elevation, heart rate, mapping, and more.

Hiking shoes, boots, or trail runners will all work to hike Grouse Mountain.

For awesome trail runners try the Salomon Men’s Speedcross 5 Trail Running shoes Ladies model Salomon Speedcross 5 trail runners.

We always carry light rain jackets with us, the North Face for ladies or North Face Resolve for men

Quick dry trekking pants are great for hiking Columbia hiking pants for men and Columbia hiking pants or yoga stretch pants for ladies.

Ladies hiking shirts the ladies long sleeve running shirt or ladies short sleeve T-shirt is nice. I like to hike in long-sleeved Columbia hiking shirts, they dry quickly and offer maximum sun protection while hiking.

Cap/hat – For sun protection wearing a quick dry sports cap, or a wide-brim hat is important.

Sunglasses – sunglasses for hiking go for high UV protection and polarized lenses.  

I always pack a BUFF Multifunctional Headwear – for sun and wind protection (doubles as a face mask).

Trekking Poles – great if you have knee or ankle problems, also helpful in the mud or if it is slippery on the trail, TrailBuddy Hiking Sticks

More Amazing Hiking Trails in Canada

Being surrounded by beautiful mountains and the ocean, there are some fantastic weekend breakaways around Vancouver.

Garibaldi Lake National Park is home to some great hiking trails for one day or overnight trails. The Chief hiking route in nearby Squamish is a short drive from Vancouver and rewarded us with spectacular views. If you are looking for a backpacking challenge don’t miss the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, this demanding 6-day trail follows the coast all the way. It is a very popular trail that must be booked in advance. The Juan de Fuca trail, also on Vancouver Island, is also a beautiful trail along the coast but is a bit more flexible since it is easier to do only part of this trail. Vancouver Island is easy to reach from Downtown Vancouver and offers a lot more than just hiking, it is great for whale watching, seeing orcas, and surfing, and has a beautiful town, see our review of things to do on Vancouver Island. For unreal day hikes I would recommend traveling north in Canada and visiting Banff National Park in Alberta with a huge selection of unreal trails for day hiking.

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