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Addicted to the Grouse Grind

Going in the cable car down Grouse Mountain, with the Grouse Grind in the foreground and Vancouver in the background

The Grouse Grind, a steep 2.9 km trail up Grouse Mountain with a 850 meter altitude increase, has become my favorite trail in Vancouver. Not because it is such a beautiful trail – there are some nice views but generally the trail is so steep that you only see the steps or rocks ahead of you. There are much nicer trails out there, but they are not as much fun or as convenient to reach from downtown Vancouver as the Grouse Grind.

I did my first Grind in early May and since then I hiked it 6 times (once without the official Grouse Grind Timer, and the last 5 times with one, so everybody can see my results online). I don’t use the word run for the Grouse Grind, because it’s almost impossible to run it because it’s so steep. I often go after work, it’s just a short detour on my way home, and their is enough parking space at the bottom of the trail.

Grouse Grind

I bought an annual ticket for Grouse Mountain, so each time I go up I can take the cable car back down to my car. That’s a major selling point for the Grouse Grind compared to other trails, especially because running down is bad for your knees and I prefer just going up.

Another advantage is the Grouse Grind timer that I mentioned earlier. Most of the regulars have a chip card that you can scan at the bottom and at the top, so your results are displayed on a TV screen and they are all available online. It’s great to compare your results to others, or to the average of the different age groups.

Did the Grouse Grind twice this afternoon, it's very addictive

Last Friday I did the Grouse Grind two times in a row, which was actually a bit too much. My legs were killing me on the second climb up and I was not sure if I would be able to make it. But of course I did reach the top (although I did stop several times), but  not in a great time. The first climb I managed in 48:28 minutes, but the second one took me 16 minutes longer.

It’s quite busy on the Grouse Grind, especially on weekends, so I try to avoid peak times. When you go relatively fast you have to pass a lot of people on the steep trail, which is not always easy. I wish I could do it early in the morning, but it’s my task to get Scott dressed, fed and to school by 8 AM, so that won’t work. I realize more and more what a luxury it was that we had 2 nannies in China!

I actually like passing a few people on the way up, it’s a good incentive to push myself even more. I guess I am just too competitive. When I did the Grouse Grind 2 times in a row I was annoyed that people managed to pass me on my second climb up, especially when I had to stop several times.

Grouse Mountain cable car

The Grouse Grind is such a great work-out because it only takes less than an hour, but you have to give everything you have during that time. You can’t even stop and go back half way, because there are no side trails and it’s not allowed to hike down (although some people still do this). But there is a comfortable cable car back to the bottom of the mountain!

All these things together make the Grouse Grind quite addictive and I now need to do it at least once a week. And I am not the only one, there are people who climb Grouse Mountain 2-3 times per day almost every day! One guy did the Grouse Grind 97 times this year already, even though the season only started less than a month ago (so that’s over 3 climbs per day on average). I am very happy to have this great trail so close to my house!

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  1. Now you’re really getting me jealous since
    I’m still running in Shanghai. Imagine a Grouse Grind here? Maybe at MoganShan? Anyway you might want to try the Garmin Fenix GPS watch – a step up from the Nike watch you have. I haven’t explored everything yet – haven’t loaded trail maps but can trackback when I get lost – can’t do this with Nike.

  2. Hiking other trails (such as the Stawamus Chief ) or participating in other types of exercise (especially activities that work the opposing muscle groups used on the Grouse Grind) will help round out overall fitness which can potentially help lower summit times. It almost goes without saying but being aware of your diet will help too.

  3. I should add that for those who find it not challenging enough or who simply just want to do more….sometimes after I finish the grind I head straight to goat mountain and when you reach the top you can see an amazing view of the Vancouver and beyond! It’s about an 8 km hike. There are some short steep terrain. To get there go past the bear habitat and toward your left you will see a logging road. Run or walk for about 5-10 minutes and you will see the trail head. There are other shorter trails to do. Keep an eye out for bears. I would say it’s a must to do after the grouse grind if your one of those people who can complete the grind under an hour 🙂 or just take a break after the grind and then try goat mountain but that means you should start your day early!