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Alternatives to the Grouse Grind: Steep Workout Hikes Near Vancouver

Alternatives to the Grouse Grind: Steep Workout Hikes Near Vancouver

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 up to the top of Grouse Mountain. It’s considered a bit of a local bucket list hike or a fitness challenge. And it’s so popular that hikers are now tackling a bunch of other steep Vancouver area trails as a workout. Some of them are given getting a “grind” nickname! Here’s everything you need to know about Vancouver area alternatives to the Grouse Grind.

Heads up: These trails are located in sensitive wilderness areas. Learn how to Leave No Trace before you go to keep the wilderness wild. Make sure you are prepared in case of an emergency by bringing the 10 Essentials. Read more about the things you should do before every hike.

What is the Grouse Grind?

Hiking the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, BC. The Grouse Grind is very steep so it is a popular workout hike.
Hiking the Grouse Grind. Photo credit: Vancouver’s North Shore Tourism

Stats: 2.9km one way (take the gondola back down for $15), 853m elevation gain, 29.4% grade, 1.5-2.5 hours

Location: Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver

Trail Info: The Grouse Grind starts at the Grouse Mountain Base parking lot and finishes next to the Grouse Mountain Lodge. Along the way, you’ll climb at least 2830 steps. (I say “at least” since trail maintenance adds more stairs each year to keep the slope stable.) That’s equivalent to climbing a 200 story building. It takes the average person about 1.5 to 2.5 hours to complete. Fast hikers finish under an hour. The record time is 25 minutes! The Grouse Grind is also one of Vancouver’s most Instagrammed hikes.

Note: Dogs are prohibited. This is a one-way trail and you may only travel uphill. Pay to take the gondola down or hike down the BCMC trail (see info below.)

More info: Grouse Mountain Resort, Grouse Mountain Regional Park

What Makes a Trail a “Grind”?

Each hiker has their own reasons for hiking the Grouse Grind. But in general, most people want to be able to say that they completed a short and steep hike that was really difficult. A lot of Grouse Grind-ers also reward themselves with a drink or meal at the restaurant at the top. And a bonus for a lot of people is the option to save their knees with a gondola ride down.

I know not everyone will agree, but here are my criteria for what makes a hike an alternative to the Grouse Grind:

  • It’s short enough to do in a few hours
  • It’s steep. Like REALLY steep! At a minimum, it has a grade over 10%
  • Bonus: A gondola ride down

So let’s see how some Vancouver area hikes stack up against the Grouse Grind! Here’s an overview of the trails. I’ve sorted them by grade so you can see which ones are truly steep. (If you’re new to thinking about grade on trails, here’s a primer. The grade (expressed as a percentage) is calculated by dividing the elevation gain in meters by the one-way distance in meters.)

TrailDistanceElevation GainGradeTime
Grouse Grind2.9km853m29.4%1.5-2.5 hours
Stawamus Chief3-3.6km540-630m34.7-36%6 hours
Dewdney Grind3.8km575m35.9%2 hours
BCMC Trail3km853m28.4%1.5-2.5 hours
Elk Mountain7km800m22.9%4 hours
Hope Lookout4.5km450m20%2.5 hours
Blackcomb Burn6.1km1150m18.9%3.5 hours
Harrison Grind7km620m17.7%6 hours
Abby Grind3.5km410m23%1.5 hours
Lynn Peak9km720m16%4 hours
Velodrome Trail3km240m16%1 hour
Munro Lake10.5km776m14.8% 4.5 hours
Sea to Summit Trail7.5km918m12.5%3.5 hours
Black Mountain4.8km280m11.7%2 hours
Coquitlam Crunch4.5km244m10.8%1.5 hours
Pump Peak7km370m10.6%2.5 hours
Tunnel Bluffs11km450m4%4 hours

BCMC Trail vs. Grouse Grind

Grouse Mountain Gondola, Vancouver, BC
Take the Grouse Mountain Gondola down from the top after you hike the BCMC

Stats: 3km one way (gondola back down for $15), 853m of elevation gain, 28.4% grade, 1.5-2.5 hours

Location: Grouse Mountain

Trail Info: The BCMC trail has very similar stats to the Grouse Grind. But the BCMC is what the Grind used to be: a rough, steep, relatively unmaintained route with no stairs. This makes it more rugged than the Grind. The BCMC trail is right next to the Grouse Grind. The British Columbia Mountaineering Club originally built the trail, but they are not affiliated with it anymore.  The BCMC is one of many trails in Vancouver you can get to on public transit.

More Info: Vancouver Trails

Bonus: Get a beer and some nachos on the patio at Grouse’s casual restaurant, Altitudes. The beer is cold, the nachos are expensive, and the view of the city can’t be beaten.

Lynn Peak vs. Grouse Grind

Lynn Peak in North Vancouver is a good alternative to the Grouse Grind.
The view from Lynn Peak

Stats: 4.5km one way (9 km round trip), 720m of elevation gain, 16% grade, 4 hours

Location: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

Trail Info: The hike to Lynn Peak is much shorter than the Grouse Grind. For the most part, it’s also not as steep. 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 with a view. (I have to admit: Lynn Peak made my list of the worst hikes in Vancouver. Click to read why.)

More Info: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park Map

Pump Peak (Mount Seymour First Peak) vs. Grouse Grind

First Peak, Mount Seymour is a good alternative to the Grouse Grind.
Pump Peak (also called First Peak) on a cloudy day

Stats: 3.5km one way (7km round trip), 370m elevation gain, 10.6% grade, 2.5 hours

Location: Mount Seymour Provincial Park

Trail Info: The quick trip up to the first peak of Mount Seymour (known as Pump Peak) is steep enough to qualify as a grind hike… just barely. It does climb pretty relentlessly, especially in the final push up to the summit plateau.

More Info: Mount Seymour Provincial Park,

Black Mountain vs Grouse Grind

Black Mountain - Alternatives to the Grouse Grind
Ascending the south peak of Black Mountain.

Stats: 2.4km one way (4.8km round trip), 280m of elevation gain, 11.7% grade, 2 hours

Location: Cypress Provincial Park

Trail Info: The hike up to Black Mountain may seem super steep in places, but it climbs only a third of the elevation that the Grouse Grind does. The trail leaves from the ski lodge at Cypress Mountain. It 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 or go for a swim in Cabin Lake. If you have more time you can also continue on downhill a bit to the viewpoint at Eagle Bluffs.

More Info: Cypress Provincial Park Map

Tunnel Bluff vs. Grouse Grind

Looking south from Tunnel Bluffs
Looking south from Tunnel Bluffs

Stats: 5.5 km one way (11km round trip), 450m of elevation gain, 4% grade, 4 hours

Location: Lions Bay

Trail Info: Now that the Tunnel Bluffs Trail starts from Lions Bay instead of Highway 99, it isn’t nearly as steep and doesn’t have as much elevation gain. However, the first 2 km are still VERY steep so the trail could still be considered a grind. But overall, it’s a much easier climb since the second half of the trail up to the viewpoint is on a flat logging road. The view is spectacular though!

More Info: My guide to the Tunnel Bluffs trail.

Sea to Summit Trail vs. Grouse Grind

The Sea to Summit Trail has been called the Squamish Grind
Climbing up Wrinkle Rock on the Sea to Summit Trail. Photo Credit: Paul Bride

Stats: 7.5km one way (gondola back down for $15), 918m elevation gain, 12.2% grade, 3.5 hours

Location: Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

Trail Info: If you believe the hype, you might think that the Sea to Summit Trail is Squamish’s answer to the Grouse Grind. But it’s actually quite a bit longer and has a somewhat gentler grade. This trail climbs up underneath the Sea to Sky gondola, which definitely makes it feel like the Grouse Grind. 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. (If you can’t hike up, I recommend paying for the gondola. It’s one of the best stops on a Sea to Sky Highway roadtrip from Vancouver to Whistler.)

More Info: Sea to Sky Gondola; Vancouver Trails

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

Stawamus Chief, Squamish

The Stawamus Chief hike is even steeper than the Grouse Grind
The view from the top of the Chief

Stats: Three peaks to choose from: First Peak 1.5km one way (3 km round trip) with 540m elevation gain, 36% grade; Second Peak 1.7km one way (3.4km round trip) with 590m elevation gain, 34.7% grade; Third Peak 1.8km one way (3.6km round trip) with 630m elevation gain, 35% grade; 6 hours for all three peaks

Location: Squamish

Trail Info: Although the Chief isn’t as high as Grouse Mountain, the trails up to the top are actually steeper! 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.

More Info: Stawamus Chief Provincial Park website, Vancouver Trails

Blackcomb Burn Ascent Trails vs. Grouse Grind

The Blackcomb Burn is Whistler's answer to the Grouse Grind.
Hiking the Blackcomb Burn. Photo credit: Tourism Whistler

Stats: 6.1km one way (gondola down for $15/$40), 1150m elevation gain, 18.9% grade, 3.5 hours

Location: Whistler

Trail Info: In 2016 Whistler Blackcomb introduced their own version of the Grouse Grind: the Blackcomb Ascent Trails. This route actually combines three trails: Little Burn, Big Burn, and Heartburn. Although it’s not quite as steep as the Grouse Grind, it does have the highest total elevation gain on this list. You can take the Blackcomb Gondola back from the top ($40) or bail out halfway at the mid station ($15). The $40 ticket also includes the Peak to Peak Gondola. (The Blackcomb Ascent Trails also made my list of the best hikes in Whistler.)

More Info: Whistler Blackcomb; Vancouver Trails

Bonus: Grab a burger at the Rendezvous Lodge at the top.

Velodrome Trail/Burnaby Grind vs. Grouse Grind

Hikers on the Velodrome Trail, also known as the Burnaby Grind

Stats: 1.5km one way (3 km round trip), 240m elevation gain, 16% grade, 1 hour

Location: Burnaby

Trail Info: While it’s not as steep as the Grouse Grind, this Burnaby trail does involve lots of stairs. It climbs up from Barnet Highway near the Velodrome, all the way up to a viewpoint on Burnaby Mountain near the Horizons Restaurant. Unlike most of these hikes, the Velodrome Trail is at a low elevation. That means it doesn’t get covered in snow and ice in the winter. It’s one of over 100 hikes near-Vancouver that you can hike all year.

More Info: Vancouver Trails

Coquitlam Crunch vs. Grouse Grind

The Coquitlam Crunch trail is a great workout.
Under the power lines on the Coquitlam Crunch. Photo Credit: Matthew Chen on

Stats: 2.25km one way (4.5km round trip), 244m elevation gain, 10.8% grade, 1.5 hours

Location: Coquitlam

Trail Info: Many Coquitlam locals love to work out on this steep trail. I hate to break it to them, but it doesn’t really measure up to the Grouse Grind (Sorry… not sorry.) It’s about one third as steep as the Grind. It climbs up a steep slope underneath the power lines.

More Info: Vancouver Trails

Munro Lake vs. Grouse Grind

Stats: 5.25km one way (10.5km round trip), 776m elevation gain, 14.8% grade, 4.5 hours

Location: Coquitlam

Trail Info: The trail to Munro Lake in Pinecone-Burke Provincial Park isn’t typically known as a Grind-type hike… but it should be. It’s a little longer than the Grouse Grind, but the elevation gain is pretty similar. It’s definitely steep! The hike ends at Munro Lake, but you can extend your hike to Dennett Lake as well.

More Info: Outdoor Vancouver

Abby Grind vs. Grouse Grind

Stats: 1.75km one way (4km round trip), 410m of elevation gain, 23% grade, 1.5 hours.

Location: Abbotsford

Trail Info: The Abby Grind is much shorter than the Grouse Grind, and doesn’t climb as high. It’s still a great workout. The Abby Grind is part of the longer Glen Ryder Trail that ascends Taggart Peak. A few years ago locals started doing workout hikes up to the first viewpoint, and that portion of the trail was renamed the Abby Grind. (Note: Many websites list this trail has having only about 300m of elevation gain, but if you look at a topographic map, you’ll see it gains about 410m.)

More Info: Vancouver Trails

Dewdney Grind vs. Grouse Grind

The Dewdney Grind in Mission BC is very steep! Even steeper than the Grouse Grind.
Dewdney Grind views. Photo credit: Joyce Sonntag on

Stats: 1.6km one way (3.8km round trip); 575m elevation gain, 35.9% grade, 2 hours

Location: Mission

Trail Info: This trail is shorter than the Grouse Grind, and doesn’t climb as high. But it is steeper! It climbs up to a viewpoint at a small cabin. The cabin honours Ben von Hardenburg, a helicopter pilot who died fighting a forest fire. The “grind” stops at the cabin, but you can continue a few more kilometers to the summit of Dewdney Peak. This trail isn’t as well marked as most of the others on the list so be careful.

More Info: Clubtread

Elk Mountain vs. Grouse Grind

Elk Mountain in Chilliwack is an alternative to the Grouse Grind.
View from the top of Elk Mountain. Photo Credit: Jonathan Sloan on Flickr. Used under CC BY 2.0.

Stats: 3.5km one way (7km round trip) 800m of elevation gain, 22.9% grade, 4 hours

Location: Chilliwack

Trail Info: The hike up Elk Mountain often gets called the Chilliwack Grind. And the name is well-deserved: this steep hike has very similar stats to the Grouse Grind. The trail switchbacks through the forest, then heads straight up a treed ridge before emerging on the open top of Elk Mountain. In early summer, the ridge is blanketed with wildflowers. It made my list as one of the top 10 best hikes in Vancouver.

More Info: Vancouver Trails

Harrison Grind vs. Grouse Grind

The Harrison Grind is also known as the Campbell Lake Trail
View from the top of the Harrison Grind. Photo credit: Tourism Harrison

Stats: 3.5km one way (7km round trip), 620m elevation gain, 17.7% grade, 6 hours

Location: Harrison Hot Springs

Trail Info: In the last few years the Campbell Lake Trail has gotten the nickname “Harrison Grind”. It’s definitely a steep hike up to a great view over Harrison Lake. You can also continue on a flatter section of trail past the viewpoint to Campbell Lake. This trail is a similar length to the Grouse Grind, but not quite as steep. After your Harrison Grind, go for a soak in the Harrison Hot Springs.

More Info: Vancouver Trails

Hope Lookout/Hope Grind vs. Grouse Grind

The Hope Lookout is also called the Hope Grind
The from Hope Lookout at the top of the Hope Grind. Photo credit:

Stats: 2.25km one way (4.5km round trip), 450m elevation gain, 20% grade, 2.5 hours

Location: Hope

Trail Info: This steep trail climbs up to a rocky viewpoint above Hope. There are great views of the town and the Fraser River. It’s not quite as steep or long as the Grouse Grind, but it’s definitely challenging.

More Info: Hope Mountain Centre

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:

Taryn Eyton


Monday 2nd of September 2019

I know this is a bit nitpicky, but Abby Grind is 430-440m, not 330. I know some websites put it at 330m, but that is certainly incorrect. I'd put it closer to 440, because all topography maps I checked put the starting point what looks very close to sea-level, but I can't see for sure, so I say 430 just to be safe (all are within 10 meters of sea-level).

Also, it's closer to 1.7km than 2km, which puts the grade at 25.3-25.9% (using 430-440m over 1700m to calculate)

Taryn Eyton

Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

Thanks for the tip Gerald. I just looked up the topo map too. It looks like it starts at 20m and ends at 430m. I'll update the post.


Monday 24th of June 2019

Cool post! I almost never see grades of hikes compared like that. It was interesting to match the grade with how hard I felt each hike was haha!

Alan Osborne

Sunday 13th of August 2017

Evan's Peak in Golden Ears Provincial Park:

Super steep, fairly short, great views!


Thursday 6th of July 2017

Don't forget the Hope Lookout in Hope, BC.

Taryn Eyton

Thursday 6th of July 2017

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?


Monday 12th of June 2017

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