Grouse Grind difficult hiking experience-Vancouver

Grouse Mountain is called as "Peak of Vancouver". It is a nice mountain just about 15-20 minutes away from Downtown Vancouver. Besides offering spectacular view, ski options (during season), Grouse Mountain is also known for what is known as Ground Grind- a 2.9 kms long hiking trail, which can be used to reach the top. However, this 2.9 kms is no walk in the park.The climb is almost a km tall or twice the height of empire state building. As I did some pre-reading about visiting the peak of Grouse Mountain using this trekking trail, the FAQ wasn't very inviting. It was declared 'Not for beginners' and regular tourists were advised to take cable car to the top (costs about 54 CAD round trip). I had done lots of walking on the trip, so I was fine with walking, but hadn't done any steep hikes. After some reading, it appeared like I can reasonably attempt to climb the Grouse Mountain. It suggested most people took about 2-2.5 hours. I thought even if I am to take twice the time, it should still be good- I've got all day and can save about 40 CAD in cable car fee.
I reached the base of Grouse Mountain at about 8.30 AM. Went to Guest Services centre- saw that return cable car fee is about 54 CAD. I asked for directions as to from where to begin the hike- they guided me in the right direction. Visited restroom, drank some water, topped up my water bottle and headed to the start.

 Even at the beginning of the trail, there was this sign board  advocating how difficult the trail is.

I began at about 9 AM. Had the essentials with me- decent shoe, litre of water, a jacket and cell phone. It was a Sunday so there were lots of people hiking up. I took it slow and almost everyone overtook me. After what appeared like a long time, when I thought I should be half way through, saw this board that said we are one fourth the way up. Another board warned us it would only get steeper and difficult and we should go back if not confident or have exhausted our water. I decided to press on. Having so many people around was reassuring- if they can do it, I should also be able to do it- may be some more time, but doesn't look impossible.

Slowly but steadily made progress to cross half way mark and 3/4th mark. I think I overtook only 2 slower moving groups. Everyone else were climbing up pretty fast.

Except all trees all around, Grouse Grind trail didn't offer much from a photography point of view. No viewpoints, no birds, nothing dramatic. We passed close-by to a small stream/waterfall but not close enough to get good picture.

Another way to measure progress is to look for these numbers- on the trees- as the count gets closer to 40, you are closer to peak.

I reached top by about 11.20 AM, with half the bottle still full. 2 hours is standard time taken to climb Grouse Mountain. I was happy I wasn't too slow. On the top, they display each day's quickest climbers and other leader-board. I think one has to register for it.


At places there were well paved steps, rope to hold on etc but half the time it is lose rocks, gravel with makeshift steps.

Watch out for these- steel rods inserted to hold wooden plates in position- many were dangerously protruding-if you step on them with force it can possibly pierce through your footwear and hurt your feet.

There were no designated areas for rest- few spots had bench like provision to rest for a while, else you've to sit at random places/rocks where it is comfortable for you.

While the trail is not easy at all, it isn't impossible. Even senior people were climbing, so were 10 year old kids. If you're not in a race, almost any reasonably fit person can complete it-one can stop at regular intervals for rest.

Return: Walking down on Grouse Grind is not allowed. Advertised reason is Safety. Trail is narrow at many places, steps are made for walking up, not down, walking down would disturb those walking up. Sounds reasonable to me, also could be a commercial motive to ensure visitors spend at least a few dollars (to go down by cable car)

The BCMC trail: There is a secondary trail. I asked staff at guest services if I can take this instead of cable car. I was told that while technically i can take the trail, it is highly not recommended. Reason being this trail doesn't have any steps and could be very steep and slippery- getting down alone is risky should you fall and need help. I didn't see anyone taking this trail back- all were happy to take the cable car down. I decided not to try too much adventure and bought my ticket for return (15 CAD).

My fitness tracker recorded approx 4500-5000 steps for this hike. I forgot to switch on workout mode in time- couldn't get a proper map.

Reward for reaching the top- 40 CAD saved in cable car fee and amazing views like below

More views of the top, things to do and more about Grouse Mountain in a separate post.

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