This has got to be one of the best snowshoe trails near Vancouver! The Grouse Grind is one of the most famous (and popular) hikes in Vancouver in summer. The winter version, the Snowshoe Grind is far less busy, easier and I think it was even more beautiful that it’s famous summertime cousin. Can walks have cousins? I’m going to say they can!
This walk will get your heart pumping (I guess you should expect that from any walk with ‘grind’ in the title!) But it is possible to do this hike without snowshoes. I find it easier to walk up with snowshoes, but crampons or even good hiking boots might be enough as the trail is pretty well packed down.
Grouse Snowshoe Grind Map (including Thuderbird ridge)
The Snowshoe Grind – the basics:
Name: The Snowshoe Grind (we did the Thunderbird ridge trail too)
Distance: Just over 4km for the Snowshoe Grind. 6.5km if you include Thunderbird Ridge.
Time: 1 hour for the Snowshoe Grind. We took 3 hours in total.
Highest Point: 1,342m (It’s 215m elevation)
Cost: You need to by a ticket on the Grouse Skyride for $59. Or, just invite me to come with you. I have a season ticket, so I can take two people for half price! If you don’t have snowshoes you can rent them for £20 all day, or £15 for two hours.
What to wear: Similar clothes to when you go skiing, but with fewer layers. Ski-pants are great if you’d like to slide on the way back.
What to bring: The 10 essentials.
Can you do it? The walk up to Dam mountain is quite hard (we were all a bit out of breath!) But the path is easy to follow and it’s not a long hike so if you’re reasonably healthy you’ll be fine!
The Snowshoe Grind is brilliant in spring
Grouse Mountain wasn’t busy at all now it is springtime, so it was really easy to park. Vancouver is now pretty warm (and full of blossoms) in the city, so it seems most people have forgotten that there is still fun to be had up in the snow! This meant we didn’t have to queue to by Skyride tickets, and there was no line for renting snowshoes. Easter is a good time for exploring the North Shore!
The walk starts above the clouds. It’s not often you get to *start* a walk with views like this! I think that is Mount Baker peeking up above the clouds to the right!
The start of the walk is really similar to the easy summer hike up Dam Mountain. You walk along the cliffs at the edge of Grouse Mountain, with amazing views over to Cypress Mountain where we have been learning to ski.
Start of the Snowshoe Grind and Dam Mountain
Once you make it over to Dam Mountain, you simply follow the path, winding up through the trees. It can be quite steep in some places, so you just need to stay on your tippy toes to make sure the spikes of your snowshoes have enough traction on the ice. Every time you turn around to look back, the view gets better and better!
I actually found Dam Mountain much easier in the snow than when we climbed it in a mixture of melting ice and streams. There are less rocks to trip over, so you can simply concentrate on stepping up!
The Snowshoe Grind views
The very last ten meters or so was really steep, but then we were rewarded with this gorgeous view of Goat Mountain in the snow. That was my favourite hike last summer so it is always nice to look over to it! If you take a few steps forward beyond the peak, you also have some stunning views of Coliseum Mountain and Cathedral Mountain. It is sooo pretty!
We had such a pleasant walk up the Grouse Snowshoe Grind that we wanted to keep going. Luckily there is another snowshoeing trail along Thunderbird Ridge. It is the bump (it might be tall enough to count as a mountain – I’m not sure!) just behind Grouse Mountain. This is a view of the ridge from Dam Mountain, just before we walked along it.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I slipped in the snow between Dam Mountain and Little Goat Mountain last year. So, although I LOVE snowshoeing, I was really cautious when we started to descend from the peak. However my husband Marc is slightly evil, and decided to play a trick on me by sliding down behind me and knocking me over! Then once I’d stood up, he did it again! Blooming blokes! I may have punctured the lovely quiet scenery with some swearing while I told him off.
After that, we were all a bit more sensible and enjoyed the gorgeous views as we wandered over and along Thunderbird Ridge.
Once you’ve climbed up to the highest point of Thunderbird Ridge, there are some lovely views over to Grouse Mountain and down to Vancouver.
Our friends from England, Amy and Steve, really liked the views too.
Tips for Heading Back
After returning along Thuderbird Ridge, we walked back on the Snowshoe Grind loop. Snowshoes aren’t really designed for descending down steep slopes so I was a little worried about the return journey. However if you take a trail to the right (just after the Dam Mountain peak) there is a less steep trail that winds its way out to the edge of the mountain with pretty views over to West Vancouver. It’s a little longer, but I found it more enjoyable than struggling with the steep gradient on the main route.
I was wearing ski-pants, so I sat down and slid a few times. Everyone else had normal trousers though so I had to wait for them at the bottom!
The very last section is pretty flat and has plenty of sun, so the melting snow had created whole areas of cliff that were covered in icicles!!
So, that was our lovely experience of Grouse Mountain’s Snowshoe Grind. Whether you are local or just in Vancouver for a holiday, this is a really fun snowshoeing trail!
Down below Grouse Mountain
Whenever we visit Grouse Mountain, Marc and I always visit the Capilano Watershed and the Cleveland Dam. This is one of my favourite places to see the Lions. We had to bring our friends to see it too!
The water gushing over the dam is pretty impressive at this time of year!
It was quite a contrast to the snowy winter wonderland above us. The rainforest along the Capilano river was warm, green and already seemed full of spring time birdies. It was so pleasant that we decided to keep walking though the forest down to the Capilano suspension bridge.
I think I have shown how amazing the mossy-covered forests are a few times on this blog, but I always love seeing them, so here are so new mossy photos!
The hike through the forest along the river was as pleasant as always, especially with the sun streaming though the trees.
I got to see some skunk cabbage for the first time. I have heard that it can be really stinky, but the ones we saw didn’t seem to be giving off much of an odor. Maybe they get skunkier later in the year? I also made friends with this chubby American robin. He kindly stayed on that log posing for me for quite a long time so I could practice using my manual focus.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge:
Last time Marc and I came this way with my sister, we discovered that if you live locally, once you visit the Capilano Suspension bridge once, you can receive a free pass to go back there as many times as you like for one year. You can see more photos of the actual bridge here. My favorite part is actually the tree top walks and the cliff top walks, so I will leave you with some photos of that.
I have quite a few posts about Grouse Mountain now, so here is a mini index if you fancy a different walk nearby or on Grouse:
– The Grouse Grind (the super famous, natural stairmaster!)
– Grouse Mountain in the snow (and the light walk)
– Our First attempt at Dam Mountain (when I nearly fell off the cliff!)
– The Amazing Goat Mountain (one of the best walks on the North Shore!)
– Walking down the Capilano river (when Grouse was closed in the spring)