Hi everyone! This is Bear and I’ll be introducing the North Shore of Vancouver, this is a truly remarkable area of BC, minutes from the city yet you feel distanced and secluded. The forest is dense and dark with trees that intimidate with their size and mud that, in areas, is there year round because the sun never touches it. It’s steep, rocky and there are roots everywhere creating constant tripping hazards if you haven’t yet slipped on them. I love it, it’s home to me. From my time as a mountain biker to my new time as a hiker it’s always where I’ve felt most at home. So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce Grouse
Let’s start with undoubtedly the most famous mountain in the Greater Vancouver area.
Anyone that’s done a quickgoogle search for hikes in North Vancouver will see that Grouse is the first mountain suggested. The famous, infamous if you will, Grouse Grind is located here. Many people consider it the gateway hike for the shore. Easily accessed direct from the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain it’s hard to argue but I still do. “Mother Nature’s” stair master consists mostly of man made stairs now. In my opinion, the grind is not the best hike to first experience North Van. Located almost parallel to the grind is the BCMC trail. That’s the abbreviation of British Columbia Mountaineering Club. The trail is more natural and more of a true experience of what the shore has to offer. The other option to get to the top is the very simple, albeit somewhat pricey, gondola. The easy way, but still an adventure. You get great views of Capilano Lake and Downtown and if you’re lucky you will even get to see the wolves. There are points of the ride that will give you butterflies, more so on the return, and it’s a nice feeling. The attendants also give a very detailed explanation of the area and will answer questions even before you ask.
At the top there is no shortage of activities, from breakfast with the local grizzlies, Coola and Grinder, to watching lumberjacks entertain to backcountry hikes. For obvious reasons I’ll focus on the hiking aspect. Grouse is an access point for many other areas, including Goat Mountain, Little Goat and Crown mountain to name a few. Crown is a personal favourite of mine and you can expect a fully detailed post about it in the future. Again, staff there are incredibly helpful and there are maps available for any assistance in finding the trails. Grouse is so well equipped that even of you happened to forget something they have essentials available at the mountain top store.
Access to most of the hikes is by following the service road underneath the ski lift. From there you get a spectacular view over West Vancouver to the ocean. There is a full network of trails ranging in difficulties from easy strolls to strenuous scrambling up mountain sides, it’s really the choice of your own as to how hard you want to work. As you go around the back side of grouse you will find Dam Mountain, Goat Mountain, Little Goat and of course Crown. If you go all the way down the back side you’ll end up in Hanes Valley, a spectacular loop from Lynn Canyon to the top of the shore. Grouse is definitely a good first mountain on The Shore as there are many possibilities for your adventure. Grind aside this is a very natural and raw area. You’ll be able to challenge yourself as far as your legs will take you. It’ll break your body and beat your soul, everything that shapes The Shore into what it is.
Stay tuned for the introduction of Lynn Canyon on part 2, my figurative backyard.