Travelling Omnomnivore

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Conquering the Grouse Grind

If you are visiting Vancouver in summer, why not do as the locals do and take a hike up Grouse Mountain?

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Ready and rearing to go at the start of the trail with a bag of energy snacks in my hand

Situated just 15-30 minutes from Vancouver’s city centre, boasting an elevation of 1231m and 4 chair lifts facilitating 26 runs, Grouse Mountain is a popular ski area in the winter season. But it’s also just as picturesque in the summer time and a great place for a day outing.

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Starting to feel the burn at the halfway mark

The hike up Grouse Mountain, or the Grouse Grind, as it is called, is not easy. With a distance of 2.9km and a gain in elevation of 853m, this is quite a steep trail with an average grade of 17 degrees, short sections up to 30 degrees and 2830 stairs in total. Indeed, so steep and narrow is the trail that, for safety reasons, downhill hiking is prohibited.

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There’s only one way to go from this point

The fastest recorded time for ascending Grouse Mountain is just under 24 minutes. For the rest of us, expect to take around 90 minutes. And if you don’t have that much time (or energy) to spare, there’s always the Skyride.

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Whew, made it!

So if there’s an easy option, is it worth putting in the effort to hike the trail? The answer is – absolutely! The sense of satisfaction you’ll feel as you will yourself to not be overtaken by 2 women carrying infants (no kidding – these Canadians are fitness freaks!) to the top is one of those great little victories in life. Once at the peak, you’ll be rewarded with a lumberjack show, a birds of prey demonstration, the opportunity to look for bears in the bear enclosure, a scenic chairlift ride, and breathtaking views of Vancouver. Having made it all the way up there, take the time to enjoy the views, and when you’re ready, the cost to take the Skyride back down is $10. If you choose to take the Skyride both up and down, the cost is $41.95.

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Matt Damon lookalike lumberjack made the climb worthwhile

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Eagle trainer

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Grizzlies

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And the views

Getting there:
By car – Drive westbound along Georgia St, continue along the Stanley Park Causeway and cross the Lions Gate Bridge. Right after the bridge, turn right to North Vancouver into one of the 2 left lanes, which turn onto Capilano Road at the 1st set of lights. Keep following Capilano Road, passing the Suspension Bridge and Dam, until you end up in the Grouse Mountain parking lot.
By bus: Take the Seabus from downtown across to North Vancouver and alight at Lonsdale Quay, where there is a daily market open from 9am-7pm. I took some time exploring the market, had an early lunch here and picked up some trail mix for the climb before boarding the #236 bus to Grouse Mountain.

Opening times:
Dependent on daylight hours. At the height of summer, it’s open from 6.15am-7pm. Closed in winter as the snow and ice make it too hazardous (go skiing instead).

Bring:
Wear layers of light breathable clothing as, whilst you’ll no doubt be feeling warm during the climb, it can get cold up top. Don’t forget comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1L of fluids and energy snacks like trail mix, nuts or a power bar.

Need to know:
Average hikers keep right and listen out for the pros calling out “on your left” as they leave a trail of dust in your wake.
Be prepared to spend big for dinner. I can’t remember a time when I was hungrier than the night after the Grouse Grind!

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Have you done the Grouse Grind? What’s your best time?

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This entry was posted on October 11, 2014 by in Canada, Travels and tagged , , .
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