Adventures Canada

Is Vancouver’s Challenging Grouse Grind Trail Worth it?

November 19, 2017

What is the Grouse Grind you ask?

There is a certain badge of honour that comes with successfully scaling the 2.9km (1.8 mile) Grouse Grind trail. With an average gradient of 30 degrees and an elevation gain of 853m, it is often referred to as ‘Mother Nature’s Stairmaster’ and having taken on the challenge, I can see why!

The trail is located on Vancouver’s North Shore and leads to the peak of Grouse Mountain, a ski resort come winter and year-round family entertainment area complete with its very own set of orphaned grizzly bears.

Many Vancouverites will scale the mountain a few times a week to test their physical endurance. I think once may be enough for me.

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Orphaned grizzly bears at the top of Grouse Mountain

Orphaned grizzly bears at the top of Grouse Mountain

So is it worth it?

Absolutely, especially if you are looking for a physical and mental challenge. It’s a great achievement to have scaled the Grouse Grind, regardless of the time it takes you. Sure my legs were burning as I tackled the high steps and my calves were tight for weeks, but I enjoyed the challenge. Unfortunately you can’t descend down the trail, it’s only one way, so up is the only option.

From the summit you are rewarded with panoramic views over Vancouver. It’s definitely worth it.

Looking down on Vancouver from Grouse Mountain

Looking down on Vancouver from Grouse Mountain

Do I need to be fit to do it?

Yes a strong level of fitness and determination is required, but you don’t have to speed up the hill like some of the locals. Take your time, enjoy the views. There are 2,830 steps in total, some of which are over a foot high. The rugged path twists and turns through the trees and parts of the track can get quite congested.

Alternatively if you want to visit Grouse Mountain without the climb, there is a large gondola that will take you up in a matter of minutes, but where’s the fun in that!

Step aboard the Skyride at Grouse Mountain

Step aboard the Skyride at Grouse Mountain

How long does it take?

Novice hikers should allow for approximately two hours to ascend the trail. Whereas the record for a male is 25:01 and woman 30:52. It took us around an hour and a half with plenty of rests along the way.

All smiles before we began the climb up the Grouse Grind

All smiles before we began the climb up the Grouse Grind

For those fitness enthusiasts out there, why now check out the The Grouse Grind Mountain Run for an extra challenge.

How do I get to the Ground Grind from Vancouver

We made use of the free shuttle bus running from Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. It’s direct and pretty frequent, and best part it’s free! During the summer months only. Buses run every 30 mins or so and are on a first come first served basis. Just pick up a ticket from one of the local reps – near the tourist info booth. More info here. Alternatively it’s a 15min car journey from downtown Vancouver.

What should I take

Enough water to last the full two hours – there are no pit stops on the way. Wear good quality walking / running shoes with a decent grip, especially if the trail may be wet or icy. Grouse Mountain is a ski resort so bring layers and warm clothing for the summit – in August when we visited there was still snow at the peak. Snacks to keep your energy levels up, although there are restaurants at the top. And a camera to capture the fabulous views.

Is it open all year round?

No, the Grind closes during the winter months as the track ices over and it becomes very dangerous. Look online for opening times as the dates change each year. The season usually runs from June to September. There have been reports of tourists sneaking behind the ‘no entry’ signs thinking they could make it up, yet many require rescuing so please don’t attempt that.

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Have you tackled the Grouse Grind? I’d love to hear about your experience. Share your thoughts for fellow travelers below. 

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5 Comments

  • Reply Louise April 28, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Ahh I’ve been thinking about doing this hike for awhile! I know a lot of my friends in Vancouver do this hike often. But it seems difficult/scary to me haha. Were there any sketchy parts? And are there really orphaned bears up there?! I never knew that!

    • Reply nickyherbert April 29, 2018 at 8:13 am

      Oh you so should, just do it once for the challenge. You dont need to take it fast, just at your own pace. The whole thing is a little sketchy as you have to clamber over giant steps and logs. The main risk to life is entering the trail during the winter when it can be icey.

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