Grouse Mountain, Vancouver
Overlooking English Bay and greater Vancouver, Grouse Mountain rises up 1177 meters (3861 ft.). The mountain is actually a ski area on the backside, but fully wooded on the front side facing the city. And in the warmer months, Grouse Mountain turns into one of the most popular hikes in the area. It's easily accessible and given the long daylight hours in the summer months, you can hike up and down several times after putting in a full day at the office. And that's what we (BGK & I) did while working in Vancouver back in 1998, the Grouse Grind became part of our weekly exercise routine...squeezed somewhere in between eating at all those great restaurants and drinking beers in all the bars.
Anyway, back to the hike...The Grind is fairly strenuous and takes about 50 to 60 minutes for those that are out of shape. The majority of the hike is under tree cover, but there are a few breaks in the trees that provide a view of English Bay, Vancouver or the gondola car carrying all the lazy people to the summit. BUT, once at the summit, the views of Vancouver and English Bay are uninterupted and absolutely beautiful.
As an added bonus, the ski lodge at the summit is open during the summer months as well serving up your favorite beers and pub food. Wednesday nights is reportedly "singles" night on the Grouse Grind and what a novel idea the Canadians have here. Get all sweaty hiking up a mountain, get to the top and throw down a few beers to quench the raging thirst and then try to chat up a bird or two...haha, nice try centurion, like it, like it.
And if you have a few too many beers at the top and don't feel you should try fate hiking back down...no worries...take the gondola down for $5 CDN.
Equipment: A good pair of hiking boots, the appropriate hiking clothing and $5 CDN for the Gondola ride back down...
This is the oldest resort on the North shore, infact in 1949 Grouse opened the worlds first double chairlift. To get to this resort you have to take a gondela up to the top of the mountain. There is a great restraunt with a view of Vancouver which is worth checking out on its own. The mountain it self is decent, they have a good snowboard park.
Snowboard Park? Yes
Some Vancouverites have a twisted idea of fun. They get up at the crack of dawn, lace up the old hiking shoes, strap on a bottle of water, and head on up to Grouse Mountain to RUN 2 km up an unrelenting slope to the top. It doesn't sound like much, but then you're probably used to 2 km of level ground.
Then there are those of us to go a little bit later, fight for parking, and walk at a challenging, but reasonable, pace to the top. On a good day I can do it in an hour. Think of it as nature's stairmaster - step after step straight to the top. Unlike other hikes, this one gives you no breaks. If you want, there are small areas to the side of the trail where you can sit for a minute, grab a handful of nuts and a swig of water, then continue up the path.
1) If you're a slower walker, move to the side when someone wants to pass you.
2) No need to feel rushed - the woods are beautiful and relaxing, and the view at the top will still be there when you reach it.
3) Enjoy the comraderie. People know it's hard and are quite supportive.
4) Feel free to congratulate yourself upon reaching the top. Grab a bite to eat and/or a nice cold drink, and soak up the view.
Equipment: You won't need mountain-climbing gear. Wear something you don't mind sweating in, and layer yourself. A jacket on a chilly day is a great idea, but halfway up you may find you don't need it any more. Tie it round your waist and carry on. Wear sturdy shoes - I find sturdy runners to be good enough. The trails are well-trodden.
I like to bring some dried fruits and nuts to keep the energy up. Water is a good idea as well. But bear in mind you're not going to the desert, and whatever you bring, you carry.
The Grouse Grind has become a very popular hiking trail for Vancouverites and visitors alike. You can read an interesting story about it here.
The trail goes take you up an elevation of 800 metres, over a total distance of 2,900 metres.
It's not for everyone. Be sure you're in relatively good shape, have water and a cel phone with you, and don't start too late in the day. And by all means, be dressed for a hike, not to go dancing!
When you get to the top you can either climb back down or pay $5.00 to take the gondola back down.
The Grouse Grind is a hike only 30 minutes north of downtown Vancouver. Grouse Mountain is one of three local ski hills, and the Grind is a trail that many Vancouverites use as a training and/or fitness measurement tool.
In just under 3.0 km of trail (about 1.8 miles for Americans), your gain in elevation is almost 900 metres (almost half a mile). If you have difficulty with abstract numbers and measurements, try this: an average flight of stairs is about five metres high. Okay, now divide 900 by 5, and that's how many "flights of stairs" you'll climb in the next one to three hours.
If you're Joe or Jane Fitness, check this: some of the regular Grinders are insane; the fastest can do the blasted thing in about 27 minutes. And for those scoffing at the sweat coming off the Grinders who hoof it down the hill as well? Going downhill is a completely different set of muscles. I do the Grind every Sunday and never suffer for it. The first time I walked DOWN, I had trouble walking until Thursday noon. (There's a gondola for $5 if you're only going down. It's $18 to go up via the tram.)
Last week I met a 70-year-old man who does the Grind twice a day; so it is possible, even if you're not 23. That said, if your knees are weak, think about something else for your Saturday afternoon.
So WHY would anyone do such a thing? Besides the significant reduction in belt size, after the climb the beer at the top tastes sweeter than any other. The view on a clear day is spellbinding. Oh, and the wait staff is pretty cute, too :)
Check out the trail maps on the website -- they give some excellent hiking guidelines for all seasons, and pictures of the view. Sweet!
My photo was taken during the one week last winter the trail was difficult to navigate. Luckily for the mountains (and skiers / boarders), the snow has come back in spades already this year, so hiking for many will wait until spring.
Equipment: Wear proper shoes! This is NOT an easy walk in the park -- some tourists come wearing pumps or even heels! There are some areas where you're scampering up stones at almost 45º, so be prepared.
If you're going to ignore the TRAIL CLOSED signs in winter (and there are many who do) check conditions with the staff at the bottom of the mountain. If it's icy or snowy partway up the trail, some cheap crampons aren't a bad idea.
Also, don't forget to bring water. You'll sweat your face off, even in cold weather or if you go at a relaxed pace. I've often gone in shorts, even in sub-zero temperatures. Just be sure to wear layers, so if you get too hot, too chilly or too anything, you can change up for more suitable clothes.