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The Grouse Grind is a fairly well-known hiking path that climbs up the lower flank of Grouse Mountain just north of Vancouver. It is well-known as a place where those with an aerobic bent go to test their mettle against the mountain. The path leads from the lower end of the Grouse Mountain chairlift (Grouse Mountain is a ski area in winter) up to it's upper end. It does not follow under the chairlift, but rather winds up through the woods some distance off to the side of the lift.
An Overview of Grouse Mtn
The Grind is steep: it climbs 2,900 feet (close to 1000 metres) over 1.5 horizontal kilometres. The trail is well-constructed and switchbacks around a bit, but it is still very steep and unrelenting. And busy. On any sort of decent weather day, there are hundreds upon hundreds of people to be encountered along the trail. It is a rite of passage for any outdoorsy Vancouverite.

As part of our 2009 visit to the west coast and Vancouver, Jenn and I decided to do the Grind. It was something we'd not done before, and it was good training for the outdoor activities we were going to partake in later on in our visit (namely, Mt Baker and other hiking in the Cascades). This report on our Grouse Mountain climb is only one of several from this trip: For more detail on our trip to Vancouver and vicinity as a whole, click here. For a report on our trip up Mt Baker, click here, and for a report on our hike up Hidden Lake Peak in the North Cascades, click here.
Grouse Mountain Resort
Jenn and I were staying at her friend's place in North Vancouver at the beginning of our trip. This was pretty convenient for hiking the 'Grind, as it was only a 10 minute drive from the house to the start of the trail at the end of nearby Capilano Drive. That's got to be one of the smallest big-city-urban-to-steep-mountain-trailhead distances in North America!

After finding a spot to park amongst the hundreds of cars near the trailhead, we made our way to the start. The trail is tightly managed, with a fenced gate and lots of warning signs, and an opening and closing time (although I suppose you could find a way to bushwhack around to the trail if you _really_ wanted to do it after hours)
Trail sign marks the way
Gate and Warnings
Starting off
We started off up the trail, which is wide and easy to follow. You are soon presented with yet another huge yellow disclaimer / this-is-difficult sign, presumably a liability-reducing initiative by any authorities within a 10km radius.

Throughout it's length, the Grouse Grind trail passes through homogenous forest with an open understory. Although the forest floor is rooty and rocky, the trail is very 'constructed', with lots of rock work, wooden steps and planks. The trail almost immediately starts gaining significant elevation. It is very winding, with many short switchbacks and turns as it makes its way directly up the slope.
Another warning sign
Well constructed
A new stair section
There were indeed many, many people on the trail. Most of them quite out of breath and sweaty (and it was quite a warm and sticky day, too). By their attire and disposition, most people seemed to be non-hikers. There were many foreign tourists, and lots of people hiking in flip-flops and sandals.
Steep and Open
Near the 3/4 mark
Nearing the top
We pushed up at a fast clip, managing to reach the halfway point somewhere around the 25 minute mark. I may have been able to do it faster if I was not carrying a pack, but I felt that doing so more accurately simulated a mountain hike. We reached the top in just under an hour. Not bad, but not at the pace of some of the speedsters out there, who do it in well under 40 minutes.

Now finished with the 'Grind, we decided we wanted a bit more, so we walked on up through the ski buildings and attractions at the resort, heading for a network of trails into some of the surrounding peaks to the north. We passed by all sorts of summer activities going on at the resort, including a lumberjack show, a Grizzly Bear Pen, and an open-air 'birds of prey' show. Busy.
Top of the Grind
Meadows at lift-top
Lumberjack show
Eventually we made our way past all of the hubbub and onto a connector path that lead to the trails behind the resort. I had the idea of doing a peak called Goat Mountain, a few kilometres to the north, and we made our way in that direction. We followed some relatively poorly marked paths over some increasingly uneven terrain, eventually stopping at a lookout point where we could see the terrain to the north, including Goat Mountain. We were running short on time (we had a dinner appointment to make later in the evening), so we decided to abort the attempt on Goat Mountain and settle for a lower, wooded hump (called Dam Mountain) near to us. Also, there were an abnormally large and annoying population of flies everywhere (this was to become a theme for our entire week outdoors here...).
Grizzly in the Pen
Access Road
Towards higher country
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[ Overview & Main Narrative | The Grouse Grind (and Dam Mtn) | Attempt on Baker's Boulder Cleaver Route | Hidden Lake Peak | GPS Data | Return to Main Page ]

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