The famous trail opened on May 27th for the start of the 2023 hiking season up Grouse Mountain. The trail closed on September 5th, 2023, for repairs and upgrades and remains closed until the spring of 2024. Hikers still wanting a good workout can tackle the BCMC trail, which like the Grouse Grind, exits at the top of the mountain. The start of the BCMC trail is 250 metres east of the start of the Grouse Grind trail, which located in parking lot D.
The Grouse Grind on Vancouver’s North Shore
The Grouse Grind, known to locals as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” is a well-known hike on the North Shore that begins at the bottom of Grouse Mountain and ends at the top. It is a one-way, 2.9-kilometre-long hike with an impressive elevation gain of over 850 metres. With a total of 2,830 stair-type steps, the trail is a great fitness challenge and a rewarding way to get your exercise.
The hike begins at the base of Grouse Mountain. After passing the fenced entrance, stay left. If you go right you’ll end up on a different trail.
What to Expect
The Grouse Grind is very popular and often quite busy. The majority of the trail is narrow, so single-file hiking is common. This allows faster climbers to pass slower ones, and it keeps foot traffic flowing.
The trail is mostly made up of hard-packed dirt with tree roots, rocks and man-made wooden stairs. It’s surrounded by trees the whole way, which is pretty much all that hikers see on their treks.
Although the Grouse Grind doesn’t offer any viewpoints during ascension, there are a few small open areas to step aside and catch a breath. The trail is marked with progression signs that indicate how far hikers have gone, as well as how much of the trail remains to be done.
Once you make it to the top, be sure to enjoy all that Grouse Mountain has to offer including its bear habitat, breathtaking views of the Lower Mainland, movie theatre, and Birds in Motion and Lumberjack shows. The hike is a difficult but free alternative to taking the Grouse Mountain Skyride.
In order to get back to the parking lot, most hikers purchase a ticket for the Skyride, as hiking back down the Grouse Grind is not permitted. It costs $20 to ride back down, which is less than half the cost of a round trip ticket.
Is it Really Dangerous?
In 2013 Outside Magazine named the Grouse Grind one of the 10 most dangerous hikes in the world. That’s a gross overstatement – even children can do it, although they’ll likely complain a bit along the way!
The reason Outside Magazine considered Grouse so dangerous is probably because so many seniors try to do it, and people who aren’t in the greatest of shape, which leads to more ambulance attendants having to climb the trail than other “most dangerous” hikes in the world.
Where is the Grouse Grind?
The Grouse Grind hiking trail begins at the base of Grouse Mountain, which is one of Metro Vancouver’s most popular ski hills and year-round attractions. Grouse Mountain is located at the top of Capilano Road at 6400 Nancy Greene Way in North Vancouver.
If driving, there are four parking lots labelled A, B, C and D. All are close to the trail’s entrance. Parking costs $8 for three hours or $10 for the day. A one-year full service parking permit can be purchased for $50. (Note: For the average person, it takes more than three hours to hike up.)
The Grouse Grind is also transit-friendly. There are two bus routes that stop near the trail’s entrance, and travel to and from Lonsdale Quay and Phibbs Exchange.
The trail’s entrance is on the right side of Nancy Greene Way, slightly southeast of the Grouse Mountain Skyride. You will likely see people with athletic attire walking towards an open gravel area. The Grouse Grind begins there, on the other side of the fence. Be sure to stay left when the trail forks near the beginning.
Below are some tips based on our Grouse Grind experiences.
TIP #1: Be prepared! The trail is steep the entire way, so pack enough water bottles to keep you going. Running shoes are quite common for this trail, but trail runners are recommended for the extra grip that they provide.
TIP #2: The Grouse Grind is a one-way trail. Hikers can climb up, but not back down. If you don’t want to pay for a Skyride ticket to descend, the BCMC Trail is an option, although it is a steep downhill trek. The majority of people take the gondola back down.
TIP #3: After reaching the top, be sure to enjoy Grouse’s Summer Activities. There are other hiking trails that begin on the mountain, like the one to Goat Mountain for example. We also recommend checking out nearby Capilano River Regional Park, either while you’re in the area or on another day.
TIP #4: If you like going straight up mountains, another great place to hike is Stawamus Chief in Squamish. Serious rock climbers scale the world-class cliffs which are a thousand times more challenging than the Grouse Grind. There is an easier route around the back though that also goes all the way to the top. It’s about as challenging as the Grouse Grind, but with better views and scenery, and without the hundreds of stairs.
TIP #5: If you don’t have the best knees, or you want a bit of an upper body workout too, take a walking stick and use it to help you up the steps. And if you have really bad knees, or any kind of heart issues, don’t do the Grind. Find somewhere that’s flatter and with fewer giant steps for your hike instead.
To learn more about the Grouse Grind, see the Metro Vancouver website.
For additional information about the resort and other related places in the Lower Mainland, see the following:
- Grouse Mountain Ski Hill
- Grouse Mountain Summer Activities
- Goat Mountain Hike on Grouse Mountain
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking Trails
- Vancouver’s North Shore
- Outdoor Recreation in Vancouver
- Best Parks and Nature
- Lower Mainland Ski Hills