BC Day Hikes

Alternatives to the Grouse Grind

Sea to Summit Trail - Alternatives to the Grouse Grind

If you hike in Vancouver, chances are you’ve done the Grouse Grind or at least heard of it.  It’s a super steep hike that gains 853m of elevation over just 2.9km of trail (for a grade of 29%) and has an awesome view at the top.  Locals use it as an outdoor stairmaster, unprepared tourists tackle it in flipflops in hours-long epics and regular Vancouverites hike it once in awhile for the challenge of it. But the Grind’s popularity is also a curse: it can be very crowded and it has needed so much maintenance to handle that much traffic that it has now been upgraded to basically just a wooden staircase in the forest rather than a trail.

So if you’re looking for somewhere else to hike, here are seven great alternatives to the Grouse Grind. In order to be like the Grind a hike has to be steep and short so you get a good workout and it also has to have a great view. Bonus points for a gondola to ride down instead of hiking and a great apres hike location for a beer or a snack.

 

BCMC Trail

BCMC Trail - Alternatives to the Grouse Grind

Image via Wikipedia

Stats: 3km one way (gondola back down for $10), 853m of elevation gain, 29.5% grade

Trail Info: The BCMC trail was built by the British Columbia Mountaineering Club and is located right next to the Grouse Grind (although the club no longer is affiliated with the trail). The BCMC is what the Grind used to be: a rough, steep, relatively unmaintained route up to Grouse Mountain. Get directions and more info here.

Apres: Get a beer and some nachos on the patio at Grouse’s casual restaurant, Altitudes. The beer is cold, the nachos are expensive ($26!!) and the view of the city can’t be beat.

 

Lynn Peak

Lynn Peak - Alternatives to the Grouse GrindStats: 4.5km one way (hike back down so 9km round trip), 720m of elevation gain, 16% grade

Trail Info: This trail leaves from the Lynn Headwaters parking lot. The first kilometer of this trail is fairly flat but then it climbs uphill steadily in the forest for the remainder of the hike. At the top it emerges on to a rocky bluff where you’ll get a great view of the Seymour River valley below you as well as North Burnaby and East Vancouver. Get directions and more info here and here.

Apres: Head to the End of the Line General Store just outside the park gates. This cafe and store has been here for over 100 years since it was once at the end of the Lynn Valley tramline. Now it has great lattes, sandwiches and baked goods and is a popular meet up spot for local trail runners, mountain bikers and hikers.

 

Black Mountain/Cabin Lake

Black Mountain - Alternatives to the Grouse GrindStats: 2.4km one way (hike back down so 4.8km round trip), 280m of elevation gain, 14% grade

Trail Info: This short and steep trail leaves from the ski lodge at Cypress Mountain and heads steeply up the hill beside the ski runs before ending up at the Black Mountain summit plateau. Once on the plateau you can take short side trails to the north or south peaks of Black Mountain for views of the Cypress area and Howe Sound or go for a swim in Cabin Lake. If you have more time you can also continue on downhill a bit to Eagle Bluffs, a great viewpoint over West Vancouver. Get directions and more info on the Cypress Provincial Park website, as well as here and here.

Apres: On summer weekends you can hike right in to Cypress Mountain’s Crazy Raven Bar and Grill to get a burger and beer.

 

Psst! Want a map that shows all these hikes and apres spots PLUS 8 more bonus hikes? Get access to the map in my Super-Secret Resource Library.



 

Tunnel Bluffs Trail

Tunnel Bluff - Alternatives to the Grouse GrindStats: 4.25km one way (hike back down so 8.5km round trip), 750m of elevation gain, 15% grade

Trail Info: The hardest part of doing this hike is crossing the Sea to Sky Highway – you park at a roadside viewpoint and then have to dash across the road to get to the trailhead. From there you spent a few kilometers climbing a relentlessly steep trail up the hillside and can visit a bunch of nice side viewpoints. After the steep stuff, you end up on an old logging road and walk another kilometer or so to a rock bluff with a spectacular view of Howe Sound. Get directions and more info here.

Apres: There isn’t much near the trailhead so your best bet is to drive the 15 minutes into Horseshoe Bay to visit the Troller Ale House, a favourite watering hole for locals and people waiting for the ferry.

 

Sea to Summit Trail

Sea to Summit Trail - Alternatives to the Grouse GrindStats: 7.5km one way (gondola back down for $10), 918m elevation gain, 12% grade

Trail Info: This newer trail to the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola is billed as Squamish’s Grind but its actually quite a bit longer and has a somewhat gentler grade – it starts and finishes steep with stairs and rock scrambles but there is a long mellow section in the middle. The view at the end is incredible though: views of Howe Sound, Squamish and the Sky Pilot area peaks. More info on the Sea to Sky Gondola website and here.

Apres: Grab a beer and some poutine and sit outside on the deck at the Summit Eatery before taking the gondola back down.

 

Stawamus Chief

Stawamus Chief - Alternatives to the Grouse Grind

Image via OutdoorVancouver.ca

Stats: Three peaks to choose from – First Peak 1.5km one way (3km round trip) with 540m elevation gain, 36% grade; Second Peak 1.7km one way (3.4km round trip) with 590m elevation gain, 35% grade; Third Peak 1.8km one way (3.6km round trip) with 630m elevation gain, 35% grade.

Trail Info: Located next door to the Sea to Sky Gondola, the Chief is Squamish’s original stupidly steep trail and boasts the closest-to-veritcal grades on this list – even steeper than the Grouse Grind. You’ll climb up stairs, ladders and even use chains to reach the top of this granite monolith. At the top you can look down the front of the sheer cliff face to see rock climbers below you and all of Howe Sound spread out at your feet. Get directions and more info on the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park websitehere and here.

Apres: Make the short drive to Mags 99 in Squamish. This local rock climbers hangout has killer Mexican food and an eclectic atmosphere.

 

Elk Mountain

Elk Mountain - Alternatives to the Grouse Grind

Image via VancouverTrails.com

Stats: 3.5km one way (hike back down so 7km round trip) 800m of elevation gain, 23% grade

Trail Info: This steep hike in Chilliwack switchbacks through the forest, then heads straight up a treed ridge before emerging on the the open top of Elk Mountain. You can follow the trail along the ridge top towards Mount Thurston if you want more hiking or just sit down and enjoy the views of Cultus Lake, the Chilliwack River Valley and the local farmland. Get directions and more info here.

Apres: Chilliwack trails expert Tim Epp (check out his Instagram) recommends Major League 2 Pub on Vedder road for a good selection of craft beer and pub food after your hike.

 

Hey! You need a map to every single trailhead, viewpoint and pub on this list. And guess what? I made one for you. (You’re welcome!) Get it here (AND 8 more bonus hikes too!)



 

So what is your favourite alternative to the Grouse Grind? Did I miss one of your local hikes? Tell me in the comments.

 

More hikes near Vancouver:

Most Instagrammed Hikes in Vancouver

Waterfall Hikes in the Fraser Valley

Kennedy Falls and the Big Cedar

 

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Alternatives to the Grouse Grind. Short, steep workout hikes near Vancouver BC. With bonus apres destinations.Vancouver's best steep workout hikes that aren't the Grouse Grind. Alternatives to the Grouse Grind. Short, steep workout hikes near Vancouver BC. With bonus apres destinations. Vancouver's best steep hikes for getting a workout. Seven steep hikes in Vancouver that aren't the Grouse Grind. Alternatives to the Grouse Grind. Short, steep workout hikes near Vancouver BC. Includes bonus apres destinations.

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Gary Jones
    April 12, 2016 at 9:54 am

    2 others you can add to this:

    1. The Abby Grind. Just off the #1 Highway at Whatcom Exit this 10k out and back is the Valleys version of the Grind.

    2. Baden Powell up from Cleveland Dam. This has all the up of the Grind, free parking and you can work the down muscles too!

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 12, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Oh thanks for the suggestions. It’s interesting how many communities in the Lower Mainland have their own “Grind”. I looked up the Abby Grind and it seems to be about 2km one way with about 400m of elevation gain for a 20% grade – not bad!

      For the Baden Powell up from Cleveland Dam do you just mean the part where the BP is on Nancy Green road? It’s definitely steep but I don’t know that I’d call it a hike 😉

      • Reply
        Gary Jones
        April 13, 2016 at 8:54 am

        The Abby Grind can extend out to 5k one way and then 10k total trip if you keep going. It’s definately not as steep as the Grouse Grind.

        If you do the Baden Powell at Cleveland Dam towards Cypress. I would agree Nancy Green Way is a lot of up but definately not a hike.

        • Reply
          Taryn Eyton
          April 13, 2016 at 6:20 pm

          Oh I feel silly – of course you meant heading west on the BP!

  • Reply
    mike
    April 14, 2016 at 9:38 am

    One more. Mount Seymour. In my mind it has the best views of all, The highest elevation point and, the old su alpine. You can target one of the three peaks or even make a quick one up to Brockton point. Bears are a common sight. These is a nice little gem with no stairs 🙂

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 14, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      That’s a good suggestion Mike – I always think of Seymour as a full day outing but if you just go to First Peak (aka Pump Peak) it’s only 3.5km one way with about 360m of elevation gain so about 10% grade. Not as steep as some of the others on this list but definitely steepish. I also agree that the view is incredible. It’s probably my favourite peak on the North Shore.

  • Reply
    Greg Curtiss
    April 14, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    West Lion from Lions Bay. My favourite local steep hike. Great views at the 3/4 mark and the top ridge .

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 14, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      That is definitely a steep one Greg – 8km one way with 1280m of elevation gain (16% grade) – I could barely walk the day after I hiked that one. For me its definitely an all-day epic rather than a quick training hike like the Grind though.

  • Reply
    Karen g
    April 15, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Diez vistas at buntzen lake is a great hike. It’s been a while since I hiked it, but perhaps it fits your criteria? There’s a spot for ice cream and beer on the road back out.

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 15, 2016 at 10:20 pm

      Oh I like that one. Except I wish it still had diez vistas… I think it’s more like tres or quattro vistas now 🙂

      • Reply
        Andy
        April 19, 2016 at 10:31 pm

        In the past I’ve just done Uno Vista – it’s a pretty good workout just to get to the first viewpoint if pressed for time.

  • Reply
    Tom
    April 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Halvor Lunden (or carry on to White Rock for the better view)
    Swan Falls (bike the 4 km of flat)
    South half of Diez Vista (to vista 3) from either Sasamat or Buntzen.

    http://www.tricitynews.com/lifestyles/take-a-hike-head-for-the-hills-here-1.2230485

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 15, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Oh I also saw that article Tom! I’m less familiar with the Coquitlam area trails so there are some I definitely want to check out – Swan Falls for sure. I did Halvor Lunden last fall – we did the whole loop through the lakes but didn’t head over to White Rock. I definitely want to spend more time in that area.

  • Reply
    Clayton
    April 16, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Coquitlam and the tri-cities have a lot of options… and without the parking hassles and crowds of the Grind and the north shore hikes. Swan Falls is a bit more than an afterwork hike but Halvor Lunden to the ridge and back could be, that piece is also the steepest and most like the grind. There are a number of trails around the south end of Eagle Ridge between Buntzen and Westwood Plateau that make great two to three hour (8-12km) hikes with almost all of it being either up or down. There are a couple on Burke Mountain as well, the steepest is probably the Munro Lake trail which is like a much less used BCMC.

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 16, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks for the Coquitlam info – apparently it is an area I should spend some more time in! I’ve only done Halvor Lunden and the south of end of Eagle Ridge from your list. I definitely want to check out Swan Falls though.

  • Reply
    Tony Weber
    April 18, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Hi Taryn, thanks for the help in weekend planning. Happy to see your spending your time so well:)

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Tony (although I think I still feel more comfortable calling you Mr. Weber!) Let me know which hike you picked and how it went.

  • Reply
    Rob
    April 18, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Minnekhada High Knoll is a great simple hike – it’s only 180m in elevation (and 10km round trip), but you can always run it if you don’t think it’s hard enough. 🙂

    https://www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/minnekhada-regional-park/

  • Reply
    Rob
    April 19, 2016 at 9:25 am

    My family recently did Tea Pot Hill in Chilliwack. When we reviewed it on the trail guide it said 2.5k and a rating of easy. Descriptions were a quick steep incline from the trail head than levels out. As my wife is recovering from shredded ACL AND MCL in her knee. This “easy” hike was what we needed. Little did we know it was probably a 15 degree slope or woese the whole way. We made it, and found 84 tea pots but it would have nice to know what we were getting into.

    I thank you for including slope grades etc in your trail reviews so that would be hikers know what they are getting into. Also whether the trails are groomed or natural because that helps determine footwear. CHEERS

  • Reply
    Andy
    April 19, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Elk Mountain is another good steep workout, plus it’s a good snowshoe option in winter. I read a recent Club Tread trip report that showed the snow has melted from the slopes already! Bring on the flowers 🙂

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      April 20, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion Andy… but Elk is on the list (although it is at the end!) I’m also looking forward to flower season up there.

  • Reply
    Outdoor enthusiast
    April 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Dewdney grind with a grade 30 % taking the south trail. Excellent views of Fraser Valley and a luxurious cabin at the top. However, you can still go farther until the bluffs. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mariken van Nimwegen
    June 14, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    So far, you’ve forgotten the east side’s alternative to the Grind: it’s on Burnaby Mountain, on the Burrard Inlet side of SFU, above the Velodrome. It involves hundreds and hundreds of steps in a fairly short burst: most ‘gymnasts’ do it several times up and down. You can also do the whole Mountain loop north of SFU: start at Horizons Restaurant (or better yet, park at the eastern foot of Hastings Street in the neighbourhood and start climbing there), walk around the cliff to the east, keep going thru the forest to the powerline, take a left, descend to almost Barnet Hwy; then head back west through the beautiful forest trail, past the mountain bike playground, back into the forest, and end with this huge staircase which brings you back up just west of Horizons. Take a left at the top of the staircase and cross the lawn back to the parking lot. A nice quick hike with plenty of challenge – I often trail run it.

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      June 15, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Oh I hadn’t heard of that one. It sounds like a local secret! I knew there were steep trails on that side of Burnaby Mountain but I’ve never hiked in the area. I just looked it up and it looks like the Velodrome Trail up to Horizons is about 1.4km with about 250m of elevation gain (so a grade of 17.8% – not bad!). What’s your apres suggestion? 😉

  • Reply
    Rod
    April 16, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    You have the Dewdney Grind in Mission. 550 meters over 1.9 km In Chilliwack go for Gloria Lookout…1200 meters 5.5 km

  • Reply
    Candice
    June 12, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Love this post! Great suggestions for hikes other than the Grind!!

  • Reply
    Anna
    July 6, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Don’t forget the Hope Lookout in Hope, BC. http://hopemountain.org/trails/hope-lookout-trail/

    • Reply
      Taryn Eyton
      July 6, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Oh that’s a good suggestion Anna. I haven’t done that one. I just looked up the stats. 2.4km one way with an elevation gain of 470m works out to about 19% grade – pretty steep! What’s your after hike beer/snacks suggestion? Pie at the Hope Home?

  • Reply
    Alan Osborne
    August 13, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Evan’s Peak in Golden Ears Provincial Park:

    https://www.alltrails.com/trail/canada/british-columbia/evans-peak-trail

    Super steep, fairly short, great views!

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