Where: Goat Mountain, Near Grouse Mountain (begins at the top of Grouse)
Description: The Goat Mountain hike winds through pretty old growth forest and over rocky terrain to reach the summit of Goat Mountain, which (on a clear day) provides amazing panoramic views of Vancouver, Vancouver Island, mountains in the Garibaldi Provincial Park, and Mount Baker in Washington. The round trip is around 8 km, with an elevation gain of 300 meters. The trail runs mostly uphill, with few flat stretches and a several steep bits (be prepared to do some scrambling). For safety reasons, this hike is not recommended before July or beyond October or November, depending on the source you consult.
Cost: The only cost associated with the Goat Mountain hike is the price of a gondola ride to the top of Grouse Mountain and down, unless you have a Grouse Mountain pass. At the time of this writing, the cost of a round trip on the gondola is $39.95 (adult) and the cost of a year-long pass is $109 (adult). The pass provides free, unlimited gondola rides and access to many other Grouse Mountain activities, including snowshoe trails. Grouse mountain also has a number of free entertainments at the top, including the Lumberjack Show, the Birds in Motion Show, viewing rescued grizzly bears in a habitat, watching movies at the Theatre in the Sky, ice skating on an outdoor pond in the winter, and more.
Time: Around 4 hours (possibly more or less, depending on fitness levels; how often you stop to take photos, rest, or snack; and whether or not you add a little side trip to Goat Ridge for additional views)
Difficulty: This hike is considered intermediate-level in good conditions. Shortly after we began the hike, we ran into some rangers who suggested that we turn back because there was still a lot of slushy snow on the mountain and some steep, slippery drop-offs beside narrow trails. We had an experienced group so we decided to go ahead with the hike and made it to the summit without needing crampons or any other special gear.
Even when there is no snow on the mountain, the Goat Mountain trail can be a bit challenging because some areas require scrambling or pulling yourself up using tree roots or a chain that has been attached to the rocks. However, most of the hike involves simply walking uphill on rugged trails. There have been deaths and injuries in the area, usually because hikers have been careless or reckless. This isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s reasonably safe for those who are experienced, fit, and cautious.
Required Equipment: If there is no snow on the mountain, good hiking shoes and clothes appropriate to the season should be fine (wear sunscreen and a hat; the sun is more intense up on the mountain). If you’re going in snowier conditions, Yak Tracks are useful to prevent slipping (some sources recommend crampons and ice axes when the snow cover is really thick). Headlamps are also a good idea; just hours after we completed our trip to the summit, two hikers had to be airlifted off the mountain because they didn’t make it down before nightfall and got lost in the dark.
- The views at the top are amazing.
- This hike provides a reasonably good workout without significant danger for those who are experienced and sensible.
- The summit can be reached in just a couple of hours from the starting point, so you can do the hike early and still have the rest of the day free (or sleep in and do it in the afternoon).
- The hike is in North Vancouver, which means that there isn’t much driving required for those living or staying in the city.
- The gondola ride to the top of Grouse is expensive if you don’t have an annual pass, and on busy days, there can be lineups.
- As with any long hike that includes steep sections, going down is hard on the knees; I wouldn’t recommend this hike for anyone who suffers from knee problems.
- There are no washrooms or outhouses along the trail.
- Dogs are not allowed on the trail.
- This hike is not suitable for children, beginners, or those with low fitness levels.
For more great hikes, see the main Activities page.