OverviewAlso known as "The Peak of Vancouver", Grouse Mountain lies only five miles north of the city that bears its nickname. Aside from being a popular tourist attraction, Grouse Mountain offers splendid views of Vancouver, and the northern Cascades, and can be hiked with the entire family. In the winter, the mountain serves as a ski resort that is very popular with Vancouver's skiing crowd because of its easy accessibility and closeness. Snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and ice skating are also done in the winter. During the summer months, one can take the Grouse Mountain Gondola, also called the Skyride. The Skyride opened in 1966 and could hold 45 passengers. Since then it has been improved and now can hold 100 passengers. An alternative to taking the Skyride is to hike the Grouse Grind Trail from the Capilano Valley to the peak chalet, an observatory point that has restaurants and bars. From here, the summit is within a twenty minute's hike. Walking from the chalet to the summit of Grouse, one will pass by the wolf and bear habitat that attracts so many tourists. Throughout summer, daily shows are held, such as a bird show, a lumberjack show and Endangered Wildlife ranger talks. A third great route, especially for mountain bikers, is the Old Grouse Mountain Highway. A twisty, steep road that leads to the summit, the Old Grouse is a demanding bike ride.
After summiting, stop by the Observatory Restaurant at the chalet. I personally haven't eaten there, but from what I hear, the food and service are world-class and the views of Vancouver are spectacular, especially at night. If you're looking for something a little less fancy, try the Altitudes Bistro, a less-formal place, yet still satisfactory before your descent down the Grouse Grind or ride down the gondola.
Grouse Grind Trail website.
More on the Altitudes Bistro and The Observatory.
Getting ThereFrom downtown Vancouver, take Georgia Street and head through Stanley Park over the Lions Gate Bridge. After crossing the bridge, take the North Vancouver exit, which is Marine Drive. Shortly, Capilano Road will come up. Go left and travel about three miles to the end of the road. This is the parking lot for the gondola. You can either hike to the chalet from here via the Grouse Grind Trail, or be lazy like me, and ride the gondola to the observatory (Skyride fares below). The gondola drops you off at about 3,700 feet, still 400 feet below the summit. As you step off the gondola, Grouse Mountain will be visible to the north. If you don't feel right about taking a gondola up, the Grouse Grind Trail is an excellent hike with fantastic views. The Grouse Grind is a 2 mile long stone stairway that starts in the parking lot for the gondola. After about a 2,800 foot elevation gain, the trail ends at the chalet. Be aware that the Grouse Grind is subject to closure after a heavy rainfall, which is common for the area. After reaching the chalet, walk towards the peak, passing the bear and wolf habitat. Once you pass the amphitheater on your right, walk up the service road leading to the top.
To get to the Old Grouse Mountain Highway: take Canada Route 1 over the bridge from Vancouver and take the Mountain Highway exit. Head toward the hills, all the way to where cars are no longer allowed. Parking is available along the roadside here. Hike/bike along the road, and steep climbing begins. After some switchbacks, and 2,800 feet of climbing, the road leads to the bear and wolf habitat. Follow the service road to the summit. The road wraps around the summit and becomes southbound upon reaching the top. Views of Vancouver to the south, Crown Mountain and The Lions to the north, and Mt. Baker to the southeast. The latter would be visible on the clearest of days.
Red TapeNo permits or fees required. For a winter ascent, hiking through a ski run might not be the best thing to do, so take the summit chair lift from the Blueberry Bowl to the east.
When To ClimbLate spring, summer, and early fall would be the ideal times to hike. The Grouse Grind Trail closes once it gets snowed out, so winter ascents would have to be done via the gondola. Grouse Grind is also closed if there has been heavy rainfall, and remains closed until it dries out.
CampingThere is no camping on Grouse Mountain.
Mountain ConditionsIn winter, avalanche warnings are frequent. Summer thunderstorms are also prevalent. For a full weather and condition report, click here.
The SkyrideSkyride fares (all Canadian currency, two-way ticket)
Children below age 4 are free.
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