Snowshoeing in Vancouver: Grouse Mountain

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This winter may have started slow , but once the snow started, the fluff of the powder was all we’d dreamed of… Worth the wait and then some! There’s just nothing quite like a glorious Spring day with the sounds of soft snow sliding by under your skis, snowboard, or snowshoes.

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. Photo: SYinc

At just 15 minutes from downtown, Grouse Mountain is the closest of the local mountains and the perfect place to spend an afternoon snowshoeing. We keep a close eye on the freezing level from our place in Gastown and when the snowline can be seen on the local mountains from our window, we’re out the door and off to the hills!

So just like that, we woke up one weekend to glorious fresh snow on the North Shore Mountains. It was time to call up some friends, make a thermos of hot cocoa, grab some snacks, and head for the hills.

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. Photo: SYinc

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. Photo: SYinc

Grouse Mountain is a short drive away, but also easily accessed by transit.  From downtown, hop the Seabus to the Lonsday Quay Markets on the North Shore and then BC Transit’s bus #232 – Phibbs Exchange, or bus #236 – Lonsdale Quay – they leave every 30 minutes.

Every trip to Grouse Mountain starts with the gondola ride to the main hill.  Leave your daily worries (and your car) behind at the parking lot and enjoy the view as you climb above the clouds. With a variety of trails to choose from, including an uphill ‘Snowshoe Grind‘, there is something for everyone. And, as is always the way when SYinc goes hiking, if Y chooses the route it’s uphill all the way… Snowshoe Grind it was.

Snowshoeing trail map at Grouse Mountain. Photo: SYinc

Flat stretches, hills, narrowed tree’d warrens; all manner of terrain is available on the hill to keep you occupied. The trails are well marked and easy to follow.

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain Resort in North Vancouver. Photo: SYinc

Powdery flakes drifted down as we hiked along, creating beautiful forms over the trees, melting in the Spring warmth down cliffs to form giant icicles, and providing the perfect backdrop for the glossy black feathers of the local crows. Fat and happy on the leavings of snowshoers and yes, we couldn’t help but treat them to a crumb or two of a powerbar ourselves.

Crows at Grouse Mountain. Photo: SYinc

The open meadow area was the perfect spot to catch our breath and enjoy our thermos of hot cocoa… with a little coffee added this time to keep us rev’d for the uphill hike.

As you climb, you’ll catch glimpses of the Grouse Mountain ‘Eye of the Wind‘ turbine. if you book in advance, for less than $20, you can watch the world far below from the glassed-in POD at the top of the turbine, a mere three metres from its massive, rotating blades. That’s on our list to check out later this year.

Eye of the Wind at Grouse Mountain in the winter. Photo: SYinc

There is also a trail – a very steep trail – that you can scramble up on snowshoes if you’d like a closer view of the turbine from the ground. Or a selfie with the Eye of the Wind.

Selfie with the turbine on Grouse Mountain. Photo: SYinc

Depending on the route you choose, your snowshoe trek will also pass beautiful mountain ponds, some kept ice free for the mountain’s snow-making machines:

Snow-covered pond at Grouse Mountain. Photo: SYinc

At the end of this particular pond, should you find it, you’ll wander by an authentic Pacific Northwest Longhouse – the hi’wus feasthouse. Five-hour tours, complete with feast, story-telling and other activities, are available via the mountain’s First Nations Cultural Program, but on this trip we just enjoyed the view from the outside.

The Hiwus Feasthouse at Grouse Mountain Resort. Photo: SYinc

The carved entrance of the Hi’wus Feasthouse

Rounding the snowshoe trail loop and returning to the gondola for our ride back down the mountain, we watched families laughing with delight on the skating rink, folks in lighter gear heading for the Theatre In The Sky, and a few brave souls searching for the 80 km (50 mi)/hr Mountain Zipline.  Grouse Mountain offers a whole host of options to keep you busy on the mountain top – not to mention the skiing!

Back at the bottom of the mountain (the top of Capilano Road), de-gearing into the Westfalia, we reassured Dutch-dog that yes, we did have a ‘very good day’!

Dog at Grouse Mountain Resort. Photo: SYinc

This is the third in a series about snowshoeing Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains – see also Snowshoeing in Vancouver: Mount Seymour and Snowshoeing in Vancouver: Cypress Mountain