Location: North Vancouver (map)
Description: The Grind is the busiest hiking trail in the Lower Mainland, attracting over 100,000 hikers every year. It is nicknamed Mother Nature’s Stairmaster because quickly ascends 853m, and many sections are nothing but stairs. It is a popular summertime activity for many locals and tourists to climb The Grind, enjoy some of the activities at the top of Grouse Mountain, and then take the gondola back to the bottom.
If you want to avoid the crowds on the main trail, there is a parallel route known as the BCMC Trail. It starts and ends at the spots as the Grind, is less crowded, and has less staircases, but is also lacking in signage. To get on the BCMC trail, take the right fork about 300 meters into the hike labelled Baden Powel Trail. Then follow the parallel route up the mountain. I’ve done the BCMC trail more often then the Grouse Grind, and find it to be a much more enjoyable hike with less people racing to the top.
No matter which route you take, there isn’t much to see along the ascent, except for other hikers zipping by in the latest lululemon gear. However, at the top you’ll be rewarded with great views of Vancouver and numerous tourist attractions. Grouse Mountain has a free lumberjack show, ziplines, a giant windmill, a theatre, and a restaurant and pub. It also serves as the starting point for several other hikes, like Dam Mountain and Goat Mountain.
Hiking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (ascent)
Alternate BCMC Trail: 1 hour 45 minutes
Racing up the Grind: your best 10km road race time
Gondola Descent: 8 minutes
Transportation: Grouse Mountain is well served by 3 bus routes (the 247 from downtown Vancouver, the 236 from the SeaBus terminal, and the 232 from Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver), which make it a great car-free day hike.
Cost: $12.50. The gondola down now costs $10 (they raised it from $5 this year). The bus will cost you $2.50 in the evenings and weekends.
Pictures: Grouse Mountain and Dam Mountain 2008