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Grouse Grind Trail to reopen Saturday morning

Metro Vancouver opens the Grouse Grind Trail in North Vancouver May 27. The trail, known as 'Mother Nature's Stairmaster,' will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m daily.
Grouse Grind
North Van's Grouse Grind Trail will reopen on Saturday morning (May 27) at 7 a.m. | North Shore News files

Nature’s Stairmaster is once again ready to challenge the fit and the fearless.

Keeners eager to take on North Vancouver’s most famous trail can get their exercise fix starting early Saturday morning.

Metro Vancouver's Grouse Grind Trail officially opens on Saturday, May 27, at 7 a.m. The Grind will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Regular hikers have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the trail, which is opening on the same weekend as it did last year.

In both instances, a La Nina winter and cold spring resulted in lingering winter conditions at the top of the Grind.

But the blast of recent hot weather has melted the snow that remained on the trail, making conditions safe to reopen the popular route, according to Metro Vancouver.

“The opening of the Grouse Grind is highly anticipated each spring and we’re pleased that once again people will be able to enjoy this iconic Metro Vancouver trail,” said John McEwen, vice chair of the Metro Vancouver Board and chair of the Regional Parks Committee.

Grouse Grind is a challenging hike

The Grind is a 2.9-kilometre trail up the face of Grouse Mountain, with an elevation gain of 853 metres (2,800 feet). It’s not for the faint-hearted.

On average, it takes a person with a reasonable fitness level about two hours to climb the gruelling 2,830 stairs.

For those looking for a challenge, the fastest time recorded last year was 26 minutes, 49 seconds. Those feeling competitive about their hike can sign up for an account and compare their times on a Grouse Grind online leaderboard.

The Grind is hiked about 100,000 times each year, according to Grouse Mountain Resort.

Grouse Mountain Regional Park as a whole - which includes the Grouse Grind, the BCMC Trail and the Baden-Powell Trail - had 440,000 visits last year, according to Metro Vancouver. That's down slightly from the 484,300 visits in 2021.

Skyride only way down

It’s important for hikers to keep in mind the Grouse Grind is a one-way trail only, according to Metro Vancouver.

Downhill hiking is not allowed on the Grind. In order to descend Grouse Mountain, hikers can buy a ticket for the Grouse Mountain Resort Skyride to return to the base by tram.

Metro also reminds hikers that part of the BCMC Trail – sometimes used as an alternate route down the mountain – is currently undergoing maintenance during week days and will be closed Monday through Friday until June 30.

Safety information for Grouse Grind Trail

Hikers are reminded to wear weather-appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear (flip flops, platform heels and jeans are not recommended) and to be prepared with water, a snack, and a cellphone. While the trail is snow-free, expect winter conditions at the top of Grouse and bring extra layers of clothing.

Dogs are not permitted on the Grouse Grind Trail, so leave your furry friends at home.

Hikers should also make sure to leave enough time to finish their hike before it gets dark.

Prepare for hot, dry conditions

“Dry conditions have made our regional parks even more susceptible to the risk of wildfires, so we urge all visitors to be vigilant – smoking is not permitted and any fires should be immediately reported to 911,” said McEwen. “In addition, hot weather can make this already challenging trail even more strenuous. Bring lots of water, wear weather-appropriate clothing, and take breaks along the trail as needed.” 

Grind etiquette

Novices to the Grouse Grind will quickly discover the “unofficial” etiquette rules of the trail.  

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. Faster hikers will usually (politely) say “on your left” as they move to pass you.

Grouse Grind history

According to Grouse Mountain Resort, hikers were first recorded on Grouse Mountain in 1894 when a hunting party shot a blue grouse bird and named the mountain in the bird’s honour. However, it wasn’t until the 1920s and early 1930s that Grouse Mountain saw the first big wave of adventurous hikers.

Today's Grind was first developed in the early 1980s by mountaineers looking for a challenging and convenient workout. Seeking a steeper route than the BCMC Trail, they began following well-worn animal paths in the rough, completing the new trail in the winter of 1983. The modern Grouse Grind Trail gained renewed popularity among hikers starting in the 1990s.

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