Grinding the Grouse

July 28, 2022
brown road in forest during daytime photo

The Grouse Grind is one of Vancouver’s most iconic hikes. Super close to the city and easy to access, it’s a 2.9km climb up the side of Grouse mountain. At the top you are rewarded with awesome panoramic views of the city and a whole heap of pride.

Here is all the essential info to get you to the top (and back down again)! From May to late September there is a free shuttle that operates from Canada Place to Grouse Mountain, so getting there couldn’t be easier. For scheduling info, check out this handy guide. If you’re heading to the mountain and the free bus is nowhere in sight, no fear, public transport has your back. From either of The Cambie locations, take the Seabus from Waterfront Station. It’s a quick 15- minute ride over the harbor, with cool views of Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park and the city.

Person walking in forest

TOP TIP: If you’re buying a single-trip Compass ticket, buy a return ticket in advance at your starting station to cover your entire trip. If you only buy a single, you’ll have to pay separately for the bus and ferry on the way back.

The ferry goes directly to Lonsdale Quay, so you really can’t go wrong. Once you alight the ferry, follow the signs for the bus station (or just follow the throngs of people). Look for the #236 which helpfully says “Grouse Mountain” on the bus – it will take you to the information center at the base of the mountain.

TOP TIP: Fill your water bottles and use the restroom at the information center. It’s your last chance before reaching the top.

Holding Soda Stream bottle

The entrance to the Grouse Grind trail is to the right of the information center. Cross the road that leads to the car park and look for an information board and a gate. If in doubt, follow people wearing hiking boots and backpacks. The trail itself consists of 2,830 steps ascending directly up the side of Grouse Mountain. If you’re superhuman you can try and beat the Grouse Mountain record holder Sebastian Salas, who scaled the mountain in under 24 minutes. However, if you’re not descended from a mountain goat, allow 1.5 to 2 hours to make it to the summit.

TOP TIP: There are markers every quarter of the trail, so you know how much progress you are (or are not) making!

Take breaks as you need to and go at your own pace. There’s nothing worse than burning out half way. If the weather is wet or the snow is melting, parts of the trail will be wet and muddy. Yes, people do it in Converse or flip flops, but they are likely to be soaked, cold and muddy by the end. When you come out of the trees at the summit, take a second to pat yourself and any other nearby strangers on the back. Directly in front of you will be The Observatory. Grab a well-earned beer and soak up the panoramic views of Vancouver. When you’ve recovered enough to stand, checkout the mountains peak attractions. Weather permitting you can take on the snow shoe trail, hit the skating pond, ride the zip lines and much more. A mountain-must-see is Grinder and Coola, two rescued Grizzly’s that call Grouse Mountain home.

TOP TIP: Want to know what Grinder and Coola are up to now? Check out Bear Cam and the ranger’s blog.

Brown bear looking into camera

Once you’ve had your fill of delicious food, sustaining beer and cuddly bears, heading down is as simple as catching the Skyride for $15. It’s not recommended that you hike down, though people do. On a busy day the wait for the Skyride can be 1.5 hours, so check if you need to buy your Skyride ticket as soon as you reach The Observatory. You’ll be given a time slot so you can go off and explore the summit while you wait. If the Grouse Grind isn’t your thing and you have a wad of cashola to spend, checkout the different tickets and passes on offer this season and enjoy the mountain without breaking a sweat.

This post was written by Cambie Downtown Guest Charl.

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