While we’re the first to say that the early fall season is one of the best times to hike the Grouse Grind, things get a bit more tricky as the weeks post autumn equinox progress. The reason? Rainy season arrives in Greater Vancouver, with more rainfall in October and November than the rest of the year. That said, we’re happy to see that it does not stop hardcore hikers from hitting the trail, even though we do kind of dig the thinning crowds of the season.
Of course, you may not yet count yourself among this lot of hardcore hikers, but absolutely aspire to be, and we applaud that spirit! That’s why we’re here to answer the query that you punched into Google just now, about hiking the Grouse Grind in the rain. Let’s find out what you can do to prepare yourself for the mountain hike when the forecast looks soggy.
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO PREPARE TO HIKE THE GROUSE GRIND ON A RAINY DAY
1) IT’S NOT AS WET AS YOU THINK
Mother nature provides the best kind of umbrella for the Grouse Grind. The thick tree canopy along the trail keeps you surprisingly dry when rain is light to moderate. Even during heavy downpours you won’t get anywhere near as soaked as you will at the peak (before you run indoors). For that reason, a 100% nylon (water resistant) zip up jacket will be more than enough to keep you dry, even without a hood. The trail itself will still get somewhat wet on a rainy day because of the combination of natural condensation, foot traffic from the rain-soaked parking lot, and from the minimal rain that does drip through the lush canopy.
2) GET A GRIP
Again, even though the trail may not be as wet as a rainy day walk through Stanley Park, you still need to exercise caution. That begins with your footwear. Sure, you can get away with a good pair of Sketchers tennis shoes in the dry summer, but when it comes to hiking rainy days on the Grind, it is time to invest in some proper trail runners, with grip that can navigate the slippery parts of the terrain. They may cost more than bo-go bargain bin running shoes but you can still get a great quality pair at your local outdoor activity store for less than $100.
It’s also a good idea for newbies to wear gloves with grip so that they can grab hold of firm roots and rocks when the wet trail underfoot feels unsure. You can buy hiking gloves specifically for this, but if you happen to have a skateboarder in the family a pair of their longboarding gloves with high density grip on the fingers and thumb will work too.
3) DON’T GO DOWN
A novice knows it’s against protocol to go back down the Grind from the peak to avoid the $10 gondola fee. However, some beginners who attempt the Grind on a rainy day reconsider their hike at the half-way mark. They figure it’s OK to abandon the mission at this point when the conditions give them concern. This is not a good idea. It can be far more dangerous to attempt to take the steep steps back down the Grind on a rainy day when gravity will work against you. Instead, commit to completing the hike, slowly but surely which is much safer than the alternative.
4) DOUBLE CHECK TEMPERATURE AND CONDITIONS (AUTUMN / WINTER)
At any point from October to March, a rainy day in North Vancouver can mean snow on the Grouse Grind. The temperature changes quickly as you make your ascent, and 5-7°C degrees in town can be 0°C (or less) on the Grind. At that point, rain becomes snow and as snow builds on the trees it falls through onto the trail and can create hazardous conditions. For some experienced Grinders this rain-to-sleet-and-snow transition is a non-event, but for beginners it can be downright dangerous. Check the Grouse Grind and Grouse Mountain forecast before you even think about a rainy day hike in the autumn or winter, and keep reading.
5) DON’T GO ON YOUR FIRST TIME (UNLESS…)
While the Grind can absolutely be done in the rain, don’t choose a day with more than a 30% chance if it’s your first, second, or even third time up. Get a few Grinds under your belt so that you become familiar with the trail. A tricky section in dry weather becomes more challenging when moist, so knowing what’s coming ahead of time helps. However, if you insist (i.e. you’re in town for just a few days – rain be damned), then do the wet day Grind with an experienced guide (click here) to prevent the slip-and-falls that can befall beginners less versed in hiking in precipitation.