The Grouse Grind is a short, but steep hiking trail up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver Canada, climbing 853 m (2800 feet) vertical over a distance of 2.9 km (1.8 mi), being notoriously grueling it 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 many fit Vancouverites climb this mountain regularly for training. Meeting the challenge of doing the Grouse Grind was one of my favorite active things to do in Vancouver.
Grouse Mountain rising 1250 metres ( 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.
Located only 15 minutes by public transport 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 are 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.
Accommodation in Vancouver
Highly rated accommodation in Vancouver with good location.
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 a 40º! The trail is primarily used for hiking and running. 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. It is excellent as a work out 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 well-marked routes such as Dam Mountain, Little Goat Mountain, Goat Mountain and Thunderbird Ridge are described here. Crown Mountain.
Grouse Grind Cost
To 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
Grouse Grind Trail Statistics
The reported statistic of the Grouse Grind is as follows – distance: 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles), elevation Gain: 853 metres (2,800 feet) from 274m to 1127m, Summit: 1,127 metres (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 kilometres (2.03 miles)
- Elevation Gain: 785 metres (2575 feet) from 287m to 1076m
- Summit: 1127 metres (3,700 feet)
- Time: 1h13min
The Grind Route
The Grouse Grind trail 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 indicating 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 indicating 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 area 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 mark it might be a good idea to turn around. We reached the half way mark 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 it takes to hike the mountain is 1h30min to 2 hours.
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 quick. 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 juction 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, narrow and a very hard technical descend. It is however possible and regularly done by Grinders, skipping the $15 gondola fee going down.
More Amazing Hiking Trails in Canada
Being surrounded by beautiful mountains and the ocean, there are some fantastic weekend brake aways around Vancouver.
Garibaldi Lake National Park is home to some great hiking trails for one day or overnight trails. The Black Tusk hike in the park is a challenging trail that I can recommend. 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, surfing and has 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.
Things to do on Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain All Year
Experience breathtaking views of Vancouver, the ocean and the surrounding area from the Skyride aerial tramway taking you to the top of the mountain in about 10 minutes. Departures take place year-round about once every 15 minutes between 8:45 am and 10 at night. – Included in ticket price.
A five line zipline circuit taking you across lakes and peaks of Grouse Mountain at speeds up to 80km/hr (50 mph)!
Grizzly Bear Wildlife Sancuary
A two-hectare mountaintop habitat home to two grizzly bears, Grinder and Coola, also includes other habitats on the peak. – Included in ticket price.
Theatre In the Sky
High-definition cinema showing a variety of wildlife movies throughout the day. – Included in ticket price.
Eye of the Wind
The Eye of the Wind is a large wind turbine, the first in the world to have an elevator accessing a viewPOD™ observation area giving you spectacular views of Vancouver.
Wining and Dining
On the mountain there are a variety of cafes and restaurants if you just feel like a beer, a cup of coffee or fine dining.
Grouse Mountain Spring, Summer or Fall
A very Canadian 45-minute Lumberjack show including axe throwing, pole climbing, wood chopping and log rolling, three times a day from late May until early October. Stereotypical Canadian Fun. – Included in ticket price.
Birds in Motion Demonstration
Entertaining and educational show of trainers with their eagles, hawks, falcons, owls flying free, from early May until the beginning of October. – Included in ticket price.
Disc golf is a flying disc (Frisbee) sport in which players throw a disc at a target; it is played using rules similar to golf. Grouse Mountain features a great 18-hole mountain disc golf course. – One round included in ticket price
Grouse Mountain Super Skyride
Ride on the roof top of the skyride in small groups on a special viewing platform. Morning Ascend Tours begin as early at 8:00am. Evening Descend Tours begin at 8:00pm. – Not included in admission
Tandem paragliding from Grouse Mountain. Spectacular views, 30 minute flights cost about $200 and operate from mid-June until mid-September.
From Grouse Mountain you can take the Peak Chairlift the highest peaks from May until October (weather permitting). Daily Rides available throughout the summer months from 10:00am-8:30pm. – Included in ticket price.
Grouse Mountain in Winter
Skiing and Snowboarding
It is unreal that 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver by public transport there is a top quality venue for skiing and snowboarding with ski-lifts and 33 ski and snowboard runs! Trails and terrain for all levels from green to black trails and six terrain park zones on the mountain. Lift passes, gear rental and lessons for all levels available.
In wintertime, the mountain stays open until 10 pm to hit the slopes at night.
A variety of trails available from beginner to intermediate snowshoe trails. Trails are clearly marked from the top of Grouse Mountain. 9km of snowshoe trails. Access to snowshoe trails is included in ticket price. Gear rental available.
Grouse Mountain is home to an 8,000-square foot ice skating pond, outdoor skating rink, fun for the whole family. Ice skating on the outdoor rink – Included in ticket price. Gear rental available.
Getting to Grouse Mountain
Renting a car is definitely the easiest way to get around. For car rental I recommend using Rentalcar 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 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:
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, check how fast you are! I drew the map in this article with mine; TOPO U.S. mapping, GPS and Glonass tracking.
Hiking shoes, boots or trail runners will all work to hike Grouse Mountain.
Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof are fantastic hiking shoes that works well in a variety of conditions.
For longer hikes and in snow, hiking boots is better.
My Salomon X Ultra Prime gortex boots, is an amazing pair of boots, winter, summer, mud, snow and rain comfortable, light and completely waterproof.
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 quick and offers maximum sun protection while hiking.
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 slippery on the trail, TrailBuddy Hiking Sticks are very well rated, good value for money, aluminium trekking poles. If you want top of the line Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles.
About Author – Campbell
The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic Aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.
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