The first time I went to Grouse Mountain I was focused on The Grind. If you’re young, fit and can run, it takes maybe an hour to make a one-way, boulder-hopping ascent straight up this 4,000 feet mountain. It took Sebastian Salas only 25 minutes and 1 second to set the official course record in 2010. It took me about 2 hours. The 2nd time I went to Grouse Mountain I saw what else was there and learned why it’s one of the most-visited attractions in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Only 15 minutes from downtown, which is spectacularly visible from the summit, the Grouse Mountain complex is a year-round, busy playground. There is skiing. In fact, the world’s first double chairlift was installed here in 1949. However, when the Winter Olympics came to Vancouver in 2010, major skiing events occurred at Whistler, one hour from Vancouver in more reliable snow. So far this season, Grouse Mountain has had about 26 inches of the white stuff and people are using the snowshoe trails, enjoying the skating pond, mountain ziplining (“Soar with the snowflakes!”), etc. The Grouse Grind is closed for the season and the Snowshoe Grind is temporarily down. However, there are lots of Peak of Christmas (“Visit Dancer and Prancer!”) activities. Rangers are giving reindeer talks.
When Ruth & I visited in September, 2014 with Australians John & Trish, we glided up on the Skyride, reportedly the largest aerial tramway system in North America, watched the very well-attended lumberjack show, and took pictures of the resident grizzlies. Cubs Grinder and Coola were orphaned in 2001 and would not have survived without rescue, treatment, and transportation to this peak by the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. The views as we hiked the mountain top from the tram to the Eye of the Wind observatory (closed that day) were consistently awesome. In the near distance, all of the city of Vancouver was spread below us. In the far distance, Washington State’s Mount Baker could clearly be seen.
We didn’t begin to experience all of the activities–disc golf, guided eco-walks, helicopter tours, etc.–available on 5 Compass Grouse Mountain, which ensures return to the accurately self-named “Peak of Vancouver”, a natural theme park.