It probably comes to no surprise that Grouse Grind, on Vancouver’s North Shore, was the first hike I did in Vancouver. It was my first exposure to the Great Outdoors of North America and gave me a taste of what living here could be like.
The Grouse Grind was recommended to me by my Airbnb host, Nicholas. So after 2 days I made my way. The weather was a bit grim but I had my waterproof jacket and trousers with me, plus my walking boots, so I wasn’t so worried. I took the bus 236 up to the bottom of Grouse Mountain and found my way to the entrance.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I certainly didn’t expect to see a Starbucks sitting there at the bottom of the Gondola. I’m glad to say that this is the only one I’ve seen so far. even at the other commercial hikes.
After getting off the gravel trail at the very beginning I soon got a sense how difficult it was going to be. It was steep and it required some deep lunges. My ass and thighs were going to be sore tomorrow. Although it was a bit chilly and raining, I was sweating after about 5 minutes. I don’t think I sweat this much since I took my driving test (that was only a week before I suppose)
My legs soon felt the strain and I could feel the burn. It was a great feeling though. I knew that it was only 2.9k climb so it wasn’t going to last. This meant I could make the most of it whilst I was there.
Seeing as this was my first exposure to what it had to offer I was in complete amazement. The clouds were clinging to the trees, roots and rocks were exposed and the rain water was just rolling off the mountain side. The path ended up being a mini stream. It was a very magical experience and a great introduction to a life here in BC. How could somewhere like this be so close to a major city such as Vancouver? It was incredible. Although there are plenty of exposed roots and rocks, it is a very well kept and walked path. There are man made steps, bridges and ropes added to the course to make it safer and easier to navigate.
With it being such convenient distance from the city (or the city such a convenient distance from the mountain!) it wasn’t the quietest of trails. There were numerous people running their way up trying to beat their PB. There are electronic markers at both ends of the trail so you can automatically register your time if you’ve the wristbands. Locals come here regularly as it provides them with a great training route.
There were tourists and local families alike, taking in the views and nature. I saw fathers with their young children sitting in carriers on their back. Some of these kids were less than a year old. I would soon to find out this wasn’t an unusual sighting. A lot of Canadians, at least here, take their kids out to the mountains at a young age, which I think is just amazing.
After only about 20 minutes I come to realise that my once waterproof equipment was no longer waterproof. My legs and upper body was soaking. Only my feet kept dry. That’s something at least. But I didn’t care. I was so taken a back by what I was seeing that I forgot all about it.
After what seemed like both an eternity and a second, I was at the top. I had timed myself on my stop watch and I got to the top in 1 hour and 5 minutes. The record is sub 30 minutes, which is just an incredible achievement. I am somewhat interested how fast I can get to the top, when I have a bit more intent to my hike, and not stopping every 5 minutes to take photos. However with my experiences since, my approach to the hikes are very much more geared towards the journey rather than the destination.
If you are looking for a true wilderness experience then maybe this isn’t the hike for you. It was wet and grey when I did it and saw numerous hikers. No doubt on a better day the fair-weather hikers will be there in their droves.
That being said, it is a great hike to introduce you to what the area has to offer. It’s easy to get to, it’s well marketed and there are always going to be lots of people about, so it’s safe. It’s an obvious ‘go-to’ especially if you are reliant on public transport.
- You can find more about The Grouse Grind HERE