Hike up the Grouse Grind in Vancouver

In the previous post Vancouver - the world’s most livable city I mentioned that I'd chosen to see one very interesting place in Vancou...

In the previous post Vancouver - the world’s most livable city I mentioned that I'd chosen to see one very interesting place in Vancouver besides its downtown. Instead of a much more accessible and very popular Stanley Park, I headed north across the bay. My destination was Grouse Mountain where I wanted to hike one of the most challenging trails I have ever been to - Grouse Grind. By the way, its name - grind - perfectly justifies its difficulty.

There are two ways you can get there by pubic transit from downtown Vancouver: using two buses (one of them crossing the bay via a very busy Lions Gate bridge) and a passenger ferry called SeaBus with a connecting bus. I chose the latter as I didn't want to get stuck in a traffic jam on the bridge.
SeaBus inside looks like a big subway car. Unlike most ferries I've taken, there is no open deck on this one, so you have to remain indoors throughout the whole ride. It makes sense though given that it rains quite a bit in Vancouver. By the way, there is a passenger way between the SeaBus and the subway, so if you need to make a connection between the two, you don't have to go to the street level.
The SeaBus runs every 15 minutes except in very early mornings and late evenings. It takes 12 minutes to get from downtown Vancouver to the ferry terminal in North Vancouver.
As I mentioned earlier in Vancouver - the world’s most livable city, you can use the unlimited day pass on the SeaBus. It is a cheap and very convenient alternative to see waterfronts of both Vancouver and North Vancouver from the ocean without buying an expensive excursion. The views are simply stunning throughout the whole ride. The only caveat is that you'll have to take pictures behind the ferry's windows which is not the cleanest thing in the world.
North Vancouver surrounded by tall mountains.
One of the two bridges to the north shore of Greater Vancouver - Lion's Gate bridge.
Panorama of North Vancouver. Those houses up at the mountain are the most expensive ones.
Lonsdale Quay Terminal on the north shore.
Marina near the Lonsdale Quay Terminal.
Despite the curse words in the names of some Japanese restaurants (I'm sorry, my English speaking friends, you won't get this joke unless you translate what the word 'suki' means in Russian or Ukrainian), the Japanese themselves are very welcoming. A good friend of mine, Canadian, told me that Vancouver has a large number of genuine Japanese restaurants. By 'genuine' I mean that they are run by Japanese, not by Chinese, which is the case for many restaurants in Greater Toronto (especially the less expensive ones). Personally, I'm not that picky so I would not tell anyway. And, as the matter of fact, sushi restaurants in Toronto are really good no matter who run them! Speaking about the price: I found the one I had a lunch at to be cheaper than the average sushi restaurant in Toronto. I ordered a delicious spicy roll of 10 pieces with a miso soup and a cup of green tea for $ 6.25 plus tax, which is a very reasonable price for Canada.
The bus takes you from the ferry terminal right to the foot of Grouse Mountain in about 40 minutes. Almost all the time the bus is climbing up the hill, not very steep though.
From there, a gondola can take you up Grouse Mountain in 4-5 minutes. A round-trip ride will cost you about $46 (as of September 2015).
But I'll tell you one secret how to save money: if you hike up, the gondola ride down will cost you only $10. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? The trail up is only 2.9 km in length, but here is one caveat: the elevation gain is 853 meters. You don't have to remember much from the school geometry to calculate that the average angle on the trail is almost 30 degrees. And it's tough to climb such a trail!
I already mentioned that for $10 you can take a gondola's ride down. Basically, there is no alternative to get down because Grouse Grind trail is one-way. I saw another trail that takes you to the top of Grouse Mountain which you can hike both ways, but that one is longer and who knows how difficult it is. So unless you are up for a day hike, you should consider taking a gondola's ride down.
The trail provides with amazing views along the way. Many trees are covered with moss almost like in a rain forest.
Grouse Grind trail has steps. Lots of steps - 2830. It is certainly convenient, but at the end of the hike my knees were so tired so they began to ache. There are a couple of poster signs that warn people to take this trail on their own risk. Close to the trail head you get to see a lot of huge conifer trees. You can imagine their size by a man on the second picture. As you climb up, trees seem to reduce in size. 
Along the way the trail goes near a picturesque waterfall, but I didn't take a picture of it as I accidentally dropped my camera face down and broke the UV filter with a closed lid. The next couple of pictures were taken with my Blackberry.
Can you see a woman with a little baby on her back? That's the way Vancouverites exercise while Torontonians are jogging or cycling.
I hiked the trail up in 1.5 hours, which is considered to be an average time. The record is, by the way, 25 minutes!
What can I say? I was simply dying at the end of my journey. How many times I said to myself that I underestimated the difficulty of this trail. It was even more difficult than hiking Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Perhaps, because this trail here did not have a single flat section where I could rest besides a couple of benches along the way.
I did not have much time to wonder around, but based on what I have seen, there are ski lifts that can take you even higher up. It was not crowded at all on that day - people mostly come here for skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
My main goal was to see Vancouver from the top, however dense clouds obstructed the view.
Sometimes clouds were so dense, so you could not see beyond 100 meters. This is one of the two gondolas, by the way.
Shortly after our gondola began to descend, the clouds started to dissolve giving me a chance to see Vancouver from high above.
A few more seconds, and voilĂ !
This is the best view of Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean. My struggle to hike Grouse Grind trail has finally payed off.
This was the last post from Vancouver when I visited it in 2015. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. It definitely deserves a place in your bucket list!

You Might Also Like