Crown Mountain is basically *the* crowning glory of any peak-baggers list of hikes near Vancouver. It is one of the most distinct mountains that you can see from all over Vancouver so if you live here, it calls to you, saying “come and visit meeeee.” The views are incredible both down to the city and looking out to the surrounding North Shore Mountains.
You know sometimes hikes can just feel like a slog up to a good view? Well, hiking to Crown Mountain is way more fun than that. You need to keep your brain in gear and watch your steps carefully, but it is really fun. We had one of those brilliant days out where the journey is just as good as the destination. Full disclosure: Despite the fun, this was a pretty hard hike and it took my legs around 5 days to recover.
Crown Mountain Hike map
Crown Mountain – the basics
Elevation Gain: 450m (from the low point at Crown Pass to the summit)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 800m
High Point: 1504m
Time: 7 hours – Although lots of people do it faster.
What to bring:
Water, snacks and your camera!
The 10 essentials.
People often have trouble on this mountain, so be prepared!
There’s a gondola! Plus a cafe, restaurant, shops, loos and a water fountain on Grouse Mountain.
How hard is it?
Difficult – more info below
Crown Mountain – How hard is it?
When you read the stats for hiking up Crown Mountain, it does not sound that bad. You can cheat and take a gondola up Grouse Mountain, and there is minimal elevation gain, just 385m (or 450m if you count the lowest point at Crown Pass). I think those statistics might be why we so often hear of search and rescue call outs on Crown. It would be easy to misjudge just how tough this trail can be.
Firstly, although the elevation gain is only 385m, the cumulative elevation gain is closer to 800m. You then need to add an extra 884m if you also hike up Grouse. The trail is steep, rugged and very slippy. You need to scramble and use your hands to pull yourself up near the top. Lastly, the trail is quite exposed, with sheer drops where you can peer down very steep cliffs. Eep.
So, should you try this hike?
I have wanted to do this hike since we arrived in Vancouver in 2017, but it took us a couple of years to gain enough experience (and leg muscles) to feel like we could do it safely. In the end, I was surprised that is was not *more* difficult. Still, I am glad we waited until we both felt confident enough to tackle it. In the end, we had a seriously amazing day. The views at the top of Crown Mountain more than made up for the fact that my muscles were in pain the following day (ehem… week!) If you feel prepared to handle a hefty hike, this really is a fantastic day out. Plus, it is a lot shorter than the other two difficult North Shore hikes we did this summer, the Lions and Mount Burwell.
Crown Mountain – Getting Started
There are a few different options for the start of the walk. You can hike up the Grouse Grind, or take the alternative route up the BCMC trail. We were expecting to find this walk quite difficult, so we cheated and took the gondola up to the chalet on Grouse Mountain. From there, follow the trail around the back of the bear enclosure towards Dam Mountain. Then, you can either take the Ridge trail to Dam Mountain and Little Goat Mountain, or take the Alpine trail (which is easier, but you won’t get the extra peak views.)
First view of Crown Mountain
After Little Goat Mountain, you’ll get your first view of Crown Mountain. And then you’ll see the difficult part of this hike. Basically you have to climb down around 250m before you even start the main hike up Crown.
Heading to Crown Pass
This is the first tricky kilometer of the hike. The descent is very steep and slippery, with plenty of tree roots. At least there are chains to help on the crazily steep sections.
Once you’ve made it to the low point at Crown Pass, you need to hike along a boulder-field, before starting the main climb back up to Crown Mountain. The cliffs of Crown Mountain tower above you on one side. Whenever you need to stop to catch your breath, if you turn around, there are amazing views down to the Hanes Valley.
Mushrooms on Crown Mountain
We found quite a few cool mushrooms along the trail. The coolest patch of them all looked like they were bleeding! This is called strawberries and cream and apparently you can use the droplets to make a blue or green dye.
Get ready for a steep climb
The next couple of kilometers are very steep as you climb up large boulders and tree roots. Some of the steps are huuuge so you need to be able to pull yourself up.
Once you make it to the rocky part of the trail, follow the orange splashes of paint to find the route.
Once you make it up to the ridge of Crown Mountain, the views get more and more gorgeous. Just be really careful near the top as there are plenty of very steep drop-offs. You would not want to take a tumble down those cliffs!
Stunning views back to Vancouver
If you look south, there are fantastic views down to Beauty Peak and Vancouver.
Crown Mountain Summit
If you are imagining me making plenty of “squeeee” noises, you are imagining this scene correctly. P.s Does anyone else love my cat skull t-shirt?
The peak of Crown Mountain is an arête, so it has super steep sides that have been carved by glaciers. This means it is not a particularly comfortable spot to sit on! When we arrived there were a few people on the top, so we waited for our turn to sit on top of the world…but we didn’t stay long as we didn’t want to hog the best views. I couldn’t take a jump shot here as I am pretty sure that would end in a looong fall.
After that, we found a good spot below the top spot where we could relax and eat lunch. While we were taking photos, one of my best blogging friends, Andy arrived, so Marc finally got to meet him. That made me feel like a local! Yay for meeting friends on the top of mountains!
This is SUCH a good peak for views. It really feels like you’ve made it into the wilderness. I loved seeing the Sky Pilot from afar (at least I think it is the Sky Pilot!?)
To return from Crown Mountain you need to retrace your steps. However, as always, climbing down steep sections is even harder than climbing up. Coming down from the summit is pretty scary!
I didn’t take too many photos on the way down, but it was really beautiful, if very hard on my knees! Once we made it back down to Crown Pass we had to rest for a while to cool down. Be VERY careful on your descent. While we were there, two people fell on the trail and had to call mountain rescue. One of them had to be helicoptered out! I would not attempt this hike in anything less than perfect weather, as it was very slippery, even on a sunny day.
The slog back up to the Alpine Trail
The last difficult part of this hike is hiking back up to Little Goat Mountain from Crown Pass. Your legs will be exhausted, you’ll be hot and ready to finish, but you have to pull yourself back up the steep chain-filled trail. Needless to say, we were very happy to make it back up to this view of Goat Mountain! You still have a few kilometers to hike after this, but it was much easier along the flatter trail.
Finish by visiting Grinder and Coola
We finished our adventure by spending some time watching Grider and Coola, who were both on top form posing for tourists on Grouse Mountain. I always love visiting them.
So, what do you think? Would you be up for challenging hike if you get views that good? Or would you prefer to relax on Grouse Mountain with a beer?
If you fancy finding other challenging walks near Vancouver, take a peek at the map below. Each of the red hikers will give you details about a fun, jelly-leg-inducing hike.