There are a variety of reasons for wanting to know this. Some of you want to avoid the thick summer crowds on the hike. Some are concerned about the changing conditions through the hours of the day. Others want to make sure they can catch the next Gondola down without having to sit in queue for over an hour and some want to arrive just in time for some après-hike festivities on the mountain. Whichever the case, Grindaholic has broken down the times of the day that may suit your goals best.
Best Times to Go on the Grouse Grind During the Summer Season
Dawn Patrol Weekdays (sunrise to 8:30 AM)
This is best for those of you who want to avoid much human contact on the way up the Grind. We recommend it if you are fit, confident, don’t scare easily, and don’t anticipate needing assistance. If you are concerned about being alone, or running into a rugged stranger (don’t worry, it’s probably just Gerry Rahn) then skip this timeframe and continue below. Otherwise, you’ll enjoy some serenity, have obstruction-free photo opportunities, and won’t have to wait in line to take the Gondola back down (opens at 7:30 AM).
Those of you hopping to catch a glimpse of some wildlife will take note that most bears become active a half-hour before sunrise and tend to nap when human traffic picks up. So this is your best bet for catching a safe glimpse of Yogi and Boo Boo.
Dawn Patrol Weekends (sunrise to 8:30 AM)
If you like the idea of no crowds but still find comfort in a few people here and there on your hike then this is a great window. The crowd numbers do escalate more quickly on the weekend, so if you plan on exploring the peak of Grouse Mountain and the other on-site activities/amenities after your hike, be prepared for a more bustling scene with lines (food services, shops, and sky ride) from 11 AM and on.
Late AM / Early Afternoon Weekdays (8:30 AM to 1 PM)
This falls in line with most of peoples’ schedules (sleepy heads). There will be others doing the Grind at this time, although the number is very contingent upon weather. If the forecast is sunny, expect a bigger cluster in the early half of the timeframe as hikers seek to beat the midday heat. If overcast or partly cloudy, the crowds are spread more evenly throughout. Monitor the forecast accordingly.
Late AM / Early Afternoon Weekends (8:30 AM to 1 PM)
The crowds get exponentially bigger when transitioning from weekday to weekend in this timeframe (especially from 11 AM). However, some of you find excitement in crowds of Instagramming hikers. The mountain scene will be in full tilt on your arrival at the peak, so if you’re looking to socialize (etc.) then this is the window for you, leaving plenty of time to mix and mingle and enjoy all that the mountain has to offer. There will be a crowd going back down the Gondola, but hey, that’s what you came for!
2 Hours Before Sunset (PM slot varies by position of sun in season)
There is nothing quite like arriving at the peak of the Grouse Grind with minutes to spare before sunset. It is the ultimate payoff for calories and muscles well-burned. The crisp cooling air and unfolding scenery is unparalleled when compared to anywhere else in the world. In addition, the “going up” crowds have already thinned after 5:30 PM. However, given that this is your first (or second, third, etc.) time going up the Grind, assume it will take you the average max (1.5 hours), especially if you want to stop and smell the pine along the way. So give yourself a full two hours from sunset from the base. This of course depends upon the time of the year so check the sunset time on your smartphone weather app. If the sun sets at 8 PM, head up at 6 PM. You get the idea.
In conclusion, most of the concerns around hiking the Grind during certain times of the day can be abated by going with a guide that will help you navigate through all of the challenges, including tips to choosing an après-hike beer at Altitudes. Register for a guided tour today.