The Snowshoe Grind – Grouse Mountain

The Snowshoe Grind – Grouse Mountain

Snowshoe Grind - Grouse Mountain in VancouverThis 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!

Thunderbird Ridge

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.

Nearby Walks

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)

52 thoughts on “The Snowshoe Grind – Grouse Mountain

    1. Oooh yay!! Please give me a shout if you need any advice about travel here! We’ve been to most of the places I mention using public transport, but if you have a car I have even more ideas for fun trips!!

    1. It is really lovely there isn’t it!? I was so chuffed to get a years pass for the price of one visit. I mean it is lovely, but it’s quite pricy!!

      1. Yes it is a little bit on the expensive side haha you totally lucked out! Especially since you live in the area. I saw it when I was visiting my aunt one summer so it was definitely just a one time thing but it was totally worth it!

        1. I found out there is another similar suspension bridge in the Lynne Valley that is free! Next time you visit your aunt if you don’t want to pay, you can go there!!

          But then you don’t get the tree-top walk or cliff walk…

    1. Wow! Do you live above the treeline?

      That must be so strange to be snowless that high!! Does that mean you’re expecting a drought in the summer as they’ll be no snow to melt into rivers and refresh the land this spring? Or is there normally not much snow?

    1. It’s not too different to normal hiking. I guess you just walk with a slightly wider stance, but it doesn’t feel very different.

      Having said that, the steep sections were good at getting all of our hearts racing!

    1. I love tree top walks!! There are some similar ones in Kew gardens if you like that sort of thing! 😀

      Grouse is awesome, but to be honest most people stay really close to the lodge. You have to go for a bit of a wander to see the best views.

  1. Your snowshoeing trips amazing! And, I have to say that I REALLY like the idea of just sliding down the mountain (oh, and I like that your husband likes to play tricks on you). I imagine others were laughing if they were around you. 🙂

    The suspension bridge looked like a lot of fun too. I don’t do well with heights, but my kids love them, so I pretend the don’t bother me (even though my heart goes a million miles a minute and I feel like I might faint). 😉

    Another great post, Josy!

    1. Heh! I am glad Marc doesn’t read this blog much! He’d take that as an excuse to play more tricks on me! 😉

      I didn’t mind snowballs too much, but I hate it when he slides down and knocks me over!! My heart goes a million miles a minute like yours does when you’re up high!! I do like that it makes him giggle like a school girl though!!

    1. Thanks Orla! I used to always make photo books after trips, but I didn’t do one for aaaages. I need to look into what program I can use without a mac!!

  2. What a fascinating contrast between the first and second halves of the post. I love seeing the different photos. And thank you for including a picture of snow shoes as I was reading your blog thinking, ‘but what do snow shoes look like?’ I’m a Brit living in Mexico so have never had any need of anything like that! I so want to come, wear snow shoes, walk around and then slide down a mountain on my bum. What an awesome sounding day!

    1. Come in the spring one day Lola! That way you can visit the snow in the morning, but be down in the warmth by the beach in the afternoon! It isn’t really cold here in the city, even when the mountains are covered in snow!

    1. I’m glad you like the look of it Laureen!

      I think it is even busier in the summer, but I am starting to love it in the winter too. I heard that the BCMC trail is open again now, so the summer walking is all ready to start! 😉

  3. What a rustic and truly beautiful location. I tried snowshoing once and literally almost died. You seem like you know what you’re doing though and inspire me to give it another try.

    1. Heh! To be honest we don’t really know what we’re doing! I only started snowshoeing this year!

      Grouse isn’t particularly rustic near the lift (it is soooo busy) but you don’t have to go very far to get away from the crowds and see these epic views!!

      Anyway, yay that I inspired you! Give me a shout if you need any advice. I’m new to it, but I’ll try my best!

  4. Thanks so much for this. Winter activities RULE, as much as I’d love for it to be summer soon! I’ve done a lot of cross country ski trips, but haven’t snowshoed much – I suppose when you’re trying to climb mountains it becomes difficult in skis haha

    1. You know, I would love to try cross country skiing. One of my other blogging friends Erin is a big fan and she has made me want to give it a go. I think snowshoeing is easier though…it’s not too different to walking normally.

      Did you not need snowshoes or crampons when you climbed up to Mueller hut?

      1. Cross country is great for crossing frozen lakes and covering distance while winter camping! Mueller hut was fine in boots, though in the winter I’m sure crampons would be needed. I did use crampons when I stayed in Brewster Hut, as we summited Mt Armstrong and they were definitely necessary.

        1. Brewster hut sounded amaaaazing!! 😀
          We just bought crampons (we’re heading out to pick them up today) so I have not had a chance to try them out yet!

  5. Oh wow! What a great landscape and experience! In February I was in Finland and thought about snowshoeing but then I decided to drive a Snowmobile. The next time I decide for the snowshoe!

    1. Oooh do it Sabine it is really fun!

      We’ve hired a few different snowshoes now, and some are more comfy to wear than others, but it’s always fun!!

      p.s. I love your avatar! Yay for jumping photos!!

  6. This looks like such an adventure! Nature is just so breathtaking 😍 What a contrast in landscape, from snowy mountains to lush forests. Haven’t been on snow for quite a while now and am missing adventures like this.

    1. Thank you so much for reading!

      Are you from a cold area originally Mateja? I’m only just getting used to all this snow, it is waaay more fun than I was expecting!

    1. Lady, if you come to Vancouver you are welcome to stay with us. That way it’ll be waaay cheaper. We have a spare room and everything. 🙂

    1. Oooh yay! We can tempt you back!! 🙂

      I guess I’ll have to wait a few years as you have plenty of places to travel…but next time you can save some ££s and stay with us in Vancouver! 🙂

      I mean, we’re friends on facebook, so that’s official friends.

  7. I visited Vancouver last December. It was rainy and dark. But I knew that this city is so beautiful. I loved walk around sea wall. I want to visit capilano suspension Bridge next time. I’m noting recommendations here.

    1. Oh yay! I am glad you liked it despite the rain. The city is even nicer when the sun peaks out, but for me it is the surrounding mountains where I am most happy. 🙂

      If you come back and fancy a hike, give me a shout as I have lots of possible ideas!!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! It was a really good place to explore. 🙂

      How far south are you? You could pop up for the snow before it all melts this spring!!

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