The Grouse Grind
Thinking of taking on the Grouse Grind for the first time? Read this informative FAQ before you go.
Am I ready for the Grouse Grind?
If you are asking this question, please carefully consider if the Grouse Grind is the hike for you. Often called “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, the Grind is a unique and challenging hike and is best tackled once you are ready to attempt it.
Being ready means you can do it safely, then reap the fitness rewards and celebrate by taking in the view at the top. Being ready also means you are in good physical shape and wearing the right clothing and footwear.
And remember, there is more than one way to the top! The vast majority of visitors to Grouse Mountain ascend via the SuperSkyride Aerial Tramway. If you don’t have the right hiking gear or are unsure about your fitness level, let the Skyride whisk you safely to the top where gentler and more scenic walks await.
Am I fit enough?
The Grouse Grind is a serious workout and you require a base level of fitness. Ideally, your typical workout includes cardio training as well as squats and lunges. You'll be climbing 2,830 steps up a mountain so you will require strong hips and legs. If you are unsure if you are ready to do the Grouse Grind, we strongly recommend that you try some easier Vancouver trails and see how you do.
We like this post filled with great advice courtesy of Le Physique personal training:
“Cardio, cardio, cardio. Physical demand is one part of the equation for completing the Grouse Grind. If you have experience hiking, cycling, running and consider yourself fit, it will be a challenge, but most likely you will have no problems conquering the mountain. Individuals with heart issues are recommended to give this trail a pass for something NOT called “the Grind”… I’d like to know that someone can easily work out for 40-60 minutes keeping heart rates in the upper range of their target heart rate to feel confident taking on the challenge.”
Is the Grouse Grind open all year?
Decisions regarding the opening and closing of the Grouse Grind Trail are made by Metro Vancouver. When in doubt, please refer to their Grouse Grind webpage at metrovancouver.org.
It is fair to assume that the Grouse Grind is a spring-to-fall hike only. Snow, ice and the steep terrain make the Grouse Grind hazardous at some times during the year.
Is it open 24 hours a day in the snow-free season?
Opening hours change depending on amount of daylight. At the height of summer, the hours are 6:15 am to 7:00 pm, but be sure to confirm Metro Vancouver’s opening and closing times here for the most current information.
How long and high is it?
The Grouse Grind is a 2.9-km (1.8-mile) ascent, with an elevation gain of 853 metres (2,800 feet).
How many steps are there?
Who counted them?
We are not absolutely sure but can assume that whoever counted the number of steps on the Grind is a keen and fastidious Grouse Grinder.
How long does the climb take?
This answer, of course, depends on your fitness level, personal motivation, the group you are with and how busy the trail is. The key is to do it within your personal limits. Some people take two hours or more although an average time is 1.5 hours. The official record holder has done it in 23 minutes and 48 seconds.
Who does the Grouse Grind?
The Grouse Grind is recommended for anyone who is reasonably fit and up for a challenge. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, and die-hard fitness fanatics all do the Grouse Grind. Each year, more than 100,000 people hike the Grouse Grind so it’s a diverse crowd to say the least. Regardless of the day or time, don’t expect to be alone on the trail.
Can I have a picnic en route?
Well, it’s not really that kind of hike. There are limited rest spots with limited views and only a few benches at the halfway mark for hikers to take a breather. If you do take nourishment, we ask that you please pack out everything you packed in. There are no garbage receptacles.
Is there trail etiquette unique to the Grouse Grind?
The Grind is a very narrow trail, so expect to be passed by experienced Grinders who are striving for personal best times. The practice is to always keep to the right and keep your music volume low. The fast folks will usually (and politely) say “on your left” as they push for the top.
What will I see?
The reward is making it to the summit. Along the way, you can expect to see many natural and wooden stairs, rocks and magnificent trees as you look up up. The tree canopy is very thick over most of the trail and there are limited viewpoints until you emerge at the very top where one of the best views of Vancouver awaits. If you are coming for the view alone, a trip up the Skyride is likely the best route for you.
What if it's raining?
The trail can get very wet and tree roots and rocks can be slippery so ensure you focus on foot placement. In inclement weather, the Grind will likely be busy less busy than it is during sunny weather.
What is all this talk about "quarter" marks?
Each quarter of the Grouse Grind is well marked. The first quarter is seemingly the longest but least steep. Our recommendation is that you pace yourself at the start. The second and third quarter are the steepest, while the last quarter is not as steep.
Can I hike down the Grouse Grind?
The trail is so steep and narrow that downhill travel is not permitted by Metro Vancouver. The primary reason for this is safety – both yours and that of your fellow hikers. In addition, the Grouse Grind was designed to be an upward hike and descending the trail will cause considerable damage.
Should I bring food and water?
It is strongly recommended that you consume proper nutrition and properly hydrate before commencing the Grouse Grind. In addition, it is prudent to be safe by carrying at least one litre of water or a sports beverage. In case you need an energy boost, bring a snack like trail mix, a power bar, chocolate, a banana or nuts. There are no garbage cans on the trail so be prepared to carry everything with you all the way to the top. Please be considerate of the environment and others.
What should I wear?
Proper footwear is a must. Trail shoes or light hiking boots are best. Dress in layers of breathable sports clothing that wick sweat away from your body. You likely won't be cold doing the Grind but once you stop, you'll cool off quickly so you should bring a warm layer. Temperatures and conditions at the top of the mountain can change quickly so have an outer rain layer ready if the forecast calls for precipitation.
To help lighten your load, take advantage of the bag transfer which is a bonus perk of the Grind Timer Program. You simply check your bag at Guest Services and it will be waiting for you at Alpine Guest Services located on the main floor of the Peak Chalet at the end of your hike.
What should I not wear?
Flip flops, platform heels, jeans – all are not recommended. This is a serious fitness hike so you should be appropriately attired.
How much does it cost to go up the Grouse Grind?
There is no fee to climb the Grouse Grind trail. From the top, the cost to take the Skyride back down is $10.00. You can purchase your download ticket at Alpine Guest Services in the Peak Chalet which also offers full service facilities including food and beverage as well as a retail store (featuring a well-deserved “I survived the Grind” moisture-wicking t-shirt!). Many people look forward to a celebratory post-Grind beer and burger on the patio which offers stunning views of Vancouver. In the Peak Chalet, we provide ATMs and major credit cards are accepted. If you intend to do the Grouse Grind regularly, Grouse Mountain offers an Annual Local's Pass that is very cost effective.
What about bringing my dog?
Dogs are not permitted on the Grouse Grind or at the top of Grouse Mountain. This is for the well-being of the environment, other hikers and of course, the wildlife on the trail. There are no exceptions.
Are there flush toilets?
No, and no outhouses either. Remember that you are climbing a mountain so take advantage of the facilities Grouse Mountain provides at the base of the trail before you head up. At the top, first-class facilities await in the Peak Chalet and also at the Rusty Rail Barbecue located near the Lumberjack Showground.
Top Ten Tips to Make the Most of Your Grouse Grind
- Train in advance of your climb and assess your fitness level to determine if this hike is for you. Remember, your Grouse Grind workout includes cardio, squats and lunges.
- Ensure you have let someone know that you have set out to do the Grouse Grind and when you expect to return.
- Ensure you hydrate well in advance and that you have had a proper meal before attempting the Grouse Grind. A banana, an energy bar or some other snack high in sodium and potassium is good to have along with you.
- Dress in layers and wear proper footwear.
- Break the hike down into shorter sections by thinking about going quarter-to-quarter. The hike will not seem so daunting.
- Don’t start out too fast and take advantage of every step if you are new to the trail.
- Keep to the right to allow others to pass.
- Take a break when you need it. Just remember to pull over slightly off the trail at a safe section to let others pass if it is busy.
- Look up and identify a specific person and keep them in sight to help set your pace.
- On busy days, the Skyride down will busy. Be considerate of others and bring a change of shirt and deodorant.
- Early mornings on weekends and weekdays are usually less busy.