Hiking near Vancouver and Whistler - Grouse Grind, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Pictured above: visitors crossing the main bridge within Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Also, this post is loaded with photos and I apologize in advance that so many of them are of me or selfies!
Greeting and Happy Memorial Day Monday if you’re in the United States. I’m just going to jump right in today with activities we did on our drive from Vancouver to Whistler. The entire drive from the city is about 90 minutes if there isn’t any traffic to speak of. We had some leaving the city/Stanley Park but since we didn’t drive straight through, I could not tell you how much that added. We rented a car from Avis and took a taxi to get it with all of our stuff and they so graciously let us load up the car and leave it in the rental lot for 15 min while we walked across the street to get coffee and pastries. Those nice Canadians. Then we were off!
We’d planned to first visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which is a park with a long suspension bridge between canyons, crossing the Capilano River and the best way I can describe it is like a bunch of treehouses in the old growth Douglas fir trees with some smaller suspension bridges between it. I felt like an Ewok walking from tree to tree and snapping photos and taking in the views of the river below as well as the tall, beautiful trees. This park is actually in North Vancouver and thus, right over the Lions Gate Bridge from Stanley Park. I think it took us 15-20 minutes to get there from the city. You could actually take a taxi there (probably) and definitely make it a day trip from Vancouver.
There were a lot of families there, as the place gets 1.2 million visitors a year, but it never felt too crowded. There was also a passport that you could get embossed with a stamp at various stations, which I think was for kids but we did it anyway. All in all, it was a fun time!
After the park, we drove back into North Vancouver for some lunch and found a really tasty Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Japolo. It was only about 5 minutes from the park. I recommend it if you’re in the area and don’t want to eat at the restaurant or cafe within Capilano. They both looked tasty but were not cheap. After a hearty lunch, we set off for Grouse Mountain and the hike we’d been told about. Grouse Mountain has a gondola that can take you up for views and then back down again. That was a $50 CAD fee. We decided we’d hike up for free and ride down for $11 CAD.
We knew the hike was going to be a challenge but we were not actually prepared for how challenging it was. I am not joking when I say it might have been as difficult as summit day of Kilimanjaro. Zoe calculated the incline later and it was about 29% the whole way. The Grouse Grind, called Mother Nature’s Stairmaster, was not a long hike at all, it was ONLY 2.9 km (1.8 miles) but the elevation gain was 853 m (2800 feet). It was super challenging and we were huffing and puffing the whole way and sweating but it was so worth it. There were 4 signs on the trail up the mountain and the first one was a huge warning that basically said if you’re having a really difficult time now, you should turn around and go back because it gets worse. That was ominous but we knew we were in good enough shape to do the whole thing, just slowly. I highly recommend it if you like hiking and are fit enough! The views at the top, both outside and in the lodge, were amazing. It was totally worth it. We encountered snow at the top too!
At the top, we headed straight for the lodge to cool down with a beverage to enjoy the views inside. Overall, it took us about 1 hour and 50 minutes to do this. I wonder if I could have done it faster if I’d not run a half-marathon the day before? My IT bands were not very happy that I was doing this to them the day after a race and I felt like I was the one who needed more breaks and water. I think the record is 23 minutes and I don’t know HOW anyone could run that in 23 minutes. I’d probably fall and trip over and over if I attempted running. I have no desire to run it but it would be nice to do it in less than an hour. If I lived in Vancouver I’d want to do this weekly! I have to give a shout out to that shirt was I was wearing. It is from Lululemon and is made with one of their stink-proof fabrics that contains silver. I wore that shirt 3-4 times on that trip, each time I was a sweaty mess, and it did not smell. I aired it out after every time but I hiked 3 days in it and wore it all day to hang out in Whistler Village before we zip lined and it did not smell at all. #therealMVP
Back on Wednesday with our skiing and hiking Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, then in another post, I’ll review Whistler Village as a whole and where we ate, drank, and stayed. I just loved this trip and the area so much though. I was sad to come home.