The grouse grind trail is a world renown Vancouver hiking trail that many use for training while others hike the trail as a personal challenge. Once the summit has been reached the views are spectacular.
Three work colleagues and I decided we would tackle the grind on a sunny Saturday morning in early July. This was going to be my first assent of the trail, and I was to be joined by two trail veterans and two other first timers.
I drove to North Vancouver from Mission expecting to meet my friends at the base of Grouse Mountain. There are several parking lots to choose from, all of which are pay parking.
First though I had to get there… as I drove along the Trans-Canada Highway, I watched carefully for the sign that would mark the exit for Grouse Mountain. I had a bad feeling I had missed the turn once I arrived at the exit for Taylor Way. I pulled my vehicle to the side of the highway and, using my GPS (I should done so to start) I looked up the directions.
The GPS directed me back to the Capilano exit… It seems strange to me that there are no signs along Highway #1 directing traffic to Grouse Mountain!
The all-important water; bring some with you, or buy a bottle at the base of the mountain. The average person should consume about 250ml of water per quarter hour, just to maintain. Bring more if you think you'll need it… Don't Leave Your Empties on the Trail!
Personally when I hike I where hiking boots. I own two pairs: Lightweight day hiking boots and heavier boots for serious rock scrambling. For this trail I chose the lighter hiking boot knowing that this was a relatively flat surfaced trail with lots of stairs. I did see many people complete this trail in running shoes, but I do not recommend this practice.
Hiking boots to prevent joint injury with the correct choice of socks to prevent blisters.
WOW! I arrived at 8:50 am and the place was buzzing with cars and people. What a busy place! However; parking was no problem. I purchased my parking pass and placed the tag on the dash board of my vehicle.
I donned my hiking boots, grabbed my backpack and headed for the trailhead to meet my partners.
The trail begins at the gated entrance; where there are logs placed nearby for those who wish to stretch prior to the accent.
Pick a Good Pace
Pacing yourself is very important. Your hiking fitness while on the grouse grind trail will determine just how fast you should travel.
I noticed that nearer the trailhead, many people were chatting and laughing, but those noises were soon replaced with the sound of heavy breathing.
The Grind as some call it, is not a scenic trail… it is about the challenge… hiking fitness, endurance, speed or whatever your personal goals are.
Stairs and High Steps
The trail consists mainly of stairs made from 8 by 8 timbers and rocks that have been stacked. This trail is not your conventional trail… it has been roughly manicured to take the pounding of 10's of thousands of people.
The morning we were on the trail, I was very surprised at the numbers of people out hiking. Keep to the right and let the faster people by you. Amazing as it may seem, some people actually run up this trail, so make room.
The mountain has actually supplied a timer for those who are super serious about this. You can purchase a card with a chip embedded in it, you scan it at the bottom and again at the top to find out your exact time for ascending the mountain.
Our TimeI actually did not bad… 66 minutes carrying a 22 pound backpack. As well, along the way I stopped to take pictures. The others in my group did the grouse grind in: 58 minutes, 1 hour 25 minutes and 2 hours 20 minutes.
As most of you know this website has a hunting focus to it, so naturally I should address hunters here too. Hunting fitness is as important to hunters as hiking fitness is to hikers. What is the difference? Not much really, just the terminology. Hunters will likely carry as much as any well prepared hiker does, but may have to carry considerable more weight on the decent. The grouse grind is a great place for hunters to practice carrying a load. It's a steep trail to get in shape on for the coming hunting season.
The Decent from Grouse Grind
The downhill travel on the grouse grind trail is frowned upon, so much so the mountain has put up a large sign.
I had to wonder about this policy? Is it to force people to pay the $10.00 per person fee to ride the gondola down? That seemed to be too much of a cash grab. I came to the conclusion that the one-way travel on the grouse rind trail is more of a safety factor.
The trail is narrow, at best, just enough room for faster hikers to pass slower ones. People ascending would pose to much risk to those going up.
The trail will take about 2 hours for the average person and will cost you $5.00 for parking and $10.00 for the ride down. Expect to meet a lot of people on this very popular trail. You'll burn about 1000 calories and sweat all the way to the top.:-)
At the Top
Before you do go down, consider having lunch on the sundeck. Beautiful views and good food! Take in some of the other sights as well. The grizzly bears and the birds of prey display are worth taking in. Also worth a look are the many wood carvings that adorn the trails.