Where did I go: Grouse mountain, Vancouver, BC.
When did I go: May 2016
Grouse mountain – The Peak of Vancouver is a popular attraction 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Set atop a mountain in north Vancouver, it is a ski resort in the winter and in the summer home to large number of activities such as hiking, zip wire rides, lumberjack shows and bird watching.
Our trip to Grouse mountain started at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. There is a free shuttle at here that take you to the base of the mountain. The shuttle driver was very entertaining – he told us a lot about life in Vancouver – especially the high property prices.
When you get to the base of Grouse Mountain, you have two options to get to the top. Take the sky ride – the easy and the fast option. OR, do the Grouse Grind. The Grouse Grind is a hike up to the top of the Grouse mountain – its a 2.9 km (1.8 mile) trail, over an elevation gain of 2800 feet. The hike is only one way – Up! Downward hike is not allowed due to safety reasons. So, you are asked to undertake the hike if you are sure you can make it all the way up. Once you get to the top, you get the sky-ride back down. Many people do this regularly, as a way of training – these folk are known as the “Grinders”. A Grind Timer program is available for the hard-core Grinders to track their time. It is without a doubt, a very challenging hike, and known as “mother nature’s stair master”. As the shuttle driver said as he dropped us off: “if you are taking the sky ride up, turn left, if you are grinding your way to the top, stop by the small hut in the car park to have your head examined first!”
Being in no way prepared to do the Grind, we decided to take the sky ride to the top. Once you are at the top, there are a number of activities. Many of these are included in the tickets price, but for others, you have to pay extra.
We were in time for the start of the first ever lumberjack show of the season. The show is set as a competition between two lumberjacks from different logging camps. Presided over by an energetic young MC, they go into several rounds of competition, each based on a traditional lumberjack skill – log roll, tree climb, axe throwing to name a few. In addition to showcasing some impressive woodwork skills, the show was hilarious.
We were laughing all the way through their gags, with the funniest being the log roll, where both lumberjacks ended up in the water after failing to balance on a log.
We then took a ride on the peak chair lift further up the grouse mountain. From here there are some great views of Vancouver on offer. If you want to go even higher, there is a massive wind turbine, with an observation pod at the top.
Then it was back down to see Grinder and Coola, the resident grizzly bears of Grouse Mountain. They were found as orphaned bear cubs in different parts of British Columbia, and have been living in the grizzly bear habitat on the mountain ever since. This was the first time I’d every seen a grizzly bear up close.
You really appreciate what magnificent animals they are, but also how lethal they are. You really don’t want to come across one of these in the wild, as there is no way you would come out of it better off. As it would turn out, these would be the only Grizzly bears that we would see during our time in Canada.
After watching Grinder and Coola for a while, we got some lunch at the Rusty Rail BBQ and Grill. The food was ok, but the views were better. Afterward, we went to a birds of prey demonstration, where we got to see some beautiful bald eagles and a number of other native American birds.
There’s was time for a spot of gift shopping, and then it’s back down the Skyride and back into the city.
Things to know:
How to get there: Free shuttle from Canada Place to the base of the mountain, then skyride or Grouse Grind your way to the top. If you choose to drive, there is parking available at the base of the mountain.
How much time should you spend there? Plan to spend a full day here. There is so much to see and do.
Things not to miss: The lumberjack show and the Grizzly bears.
Cost: 43.95 CAD for an Alpine ticket, which give you a ride on the sky ride to the top and access to some of the attractions. If you Grind your way to the top, this doesn’t apply, but you need to pay 10 CAD to come down on the skyride. There are other activities available at the top for extra cost.
Interesting Fact: Grouse mountain ranks at Number 474 on Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist – best 500 places on the planet.
and Weekend Travel Inspiration #wkendtravelinspiration