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Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse

Sunset hike on Grouse Mountain and Snowshoe Grind

  • Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse
  • Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse
  • Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse
  • Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse
  • Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse
  • Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse
  • Friday night in the mountains: sunset hike on Grouse

Be sure to scroll through the gallery above for more pictures.

Watching the sunset from the top of a mountain has been on my adventure bucket list for ages. Last Friday, the sun was finally shining. With snow still on the mountains, I figured this was the perfect, picturesque time to go. 

Getting there

Grouse Mountain is relatively easy to get to from downtown Vancouver by transit. During peak hours, the 247 bus goes directly to Grouse. Otherwise, there are several buses that go up to the mountain. In the summer time, a free shuttle runs every 30 minutes from Canada Place to Grouse. I have taken it before and it was great. Just be sure to pretend you are a tourist, as I was told it is not technically intended for Vancouver residents.

Before you head up to the mountain, I recommend checking out the conditions. Earlier this winter, my friend Pargol and I planned to hike up the BCMC trail and snowshoe grind on a beautiful sunny day. We arrived at Grouse, only to find the mountain and gondolas closed because of high winds. The sun can be misleading. Find the current conditions and visibility here.

Stop at Cleveland Dam

I had a few hours until sunset, so I hopped off the bus a few stops early to take in the views at Cleveland Dam. Steps away from the road, the dam is incredibly scenic and accessible. It also connects to a number of trails leading to Capilano Canyon, the Capilano Pacific Trail, and more. After snapping a few pictures, I walked up to Grouse Mountain from the dam (approximately 20 minutes).

Going to the top of Grouse Mountain

To get to the top of Grouse you can hike up the Grouse Grind (in the spring, summer, and fall), the BCMC trail (year-round), or take the gondola up (year-round). It was getting late, and I wasn’t really up for multiple hikes, so I took the gondola up on Friday. I have definitely put my Grouse annual gondola pass to use this year.

Once I reached the top of Grouse, I was excited to see how clear the skies were. The views of Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Mount Baker, and the surrounding areas were fantastic. I quickly made my way from the chalet to the start of the Snowshoe Grind to begin my climb up. I saw a few hikers wearing snowshoes, but micro-spikes worked just as well. The snow was quite wet, so I was glad I wore winter boots and brought extra socks.

Hiking up the Snowshoe Grind

For more information about hiking the Snowshoe Grind, read my post on Grouse Mountain snowshoeing here. It was getting close to 7:00 pm when I started my hike and the light was beautiful. Honestly, I was a little scared doing this on my own but was comforted by the fact there were a few other hikers around and the conditions were good (sunny, bright, and barely any wind). Right before the last climb up to the top, I ran into another hiker who warned me the Grouse ski patrol was going around closing the trails. At this point, I was so close to reaching the top, so I may have ignored her warnings and the closed sign, and continued on up.

I saw 2 other hikers at the top, so I figured I couldn’t have broken the rules that badly. Most importantly, the views were definitely worth it. There were barely any clouds in the sky and experiencing magic hour up in the mountains is well, truly magical.

Hiking down via Thunderbird Ridge

Instead of hiking back down the same trail, I like to continue on in the direction of Thunderbird Ridge and Dam Mountain Loop. While the views at the top of the Snowshoe Grind are beautiful, I like these ones even more. The trail opens up into expansive views of the huge, surrounding mountains. As I was hiking down, I ran into a Grouse ski patrol member. He kindly asked me to return to the chalet, which I happily obliged. I had no plans to be on top of the mountain in the pitch black (but don’t worry, I did bring a headlamp).

As much as I was a little scared, it was also pretty special being alone on the trail, up in the mountains with the sun setting. Definitely one of those moments where you feel like you have made some good life decisions, and also can’t believe you have ended up where you are.

Sunset atop Grouse Mountain

At the base of the Snowshoe Grind is a plateau that looks out onto the North Shore mountains. It was the perfect spot to take in the sunset before heading back to the chalet.

Getting home

Getting home may have been more of an adventure than the hike itself. The gondola back down to the base of the mountain was very busy with everyone leaving at the same time. I got on the bus just after 9:00 pm and Google Maps told me to get off at a specific spot to transfer to a Vancouver bus. I followed these directions, and ended up in the middle of a North Vancouver residential neighbourhood in the pitch black. If I lived in North Vancouver, I would seriously be writing to my city councillor to complain about the lack of street lights.

The second bus was running 15 minutes late, and there was no way I was going to stand in the dark alone for 30 minutes. So I ended up following the bus route along the road, until I ended up in Edgemont Village (civilization!). There were a number of times I questioned how smart a decision this sunset hike was, but at least I know for the future. Bring a buddy and a car! After encountering some North Vancouver hooligans (teenagers wandering the streets of Edgemont Village), the bus finally showed up and I made it home safe and sound.

Have you done a sunset hike before? Where’s your favourite spot to watch the sunset?


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