Rated Difficult: Crown Mountain Hike in North Vancouver

Crown mountain is located north of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver and is so incredible that a professional NHL hockey player chose to spend his time with the prized Stanley Cup here on this summit! You can perch upon a jagged, toothy rock (that looks like the pointy tips of a crown) at the peak and get 360 degree views of Vancouver with the North Shore mountains in front of you, and behind you.

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That’s Crown Mountain in the distance:

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At Crown Mountain, looking South East (and down):

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This hike was pretty strenuous and very sketchy at times. In fact, the first time it was described to me, I was told this is one of the most difficult hikes in Vancouver!

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Back in May when I hiked the more moderate and gentle St. Mark’s Summit, I learned of this Crown Mountain Hike. Max described how his rock climbing skills came in handy when hiking this trail, and that the pitch of the hill was so incredibly steep, you could almost fall over. Unlike other typical day hikes in and around Vancouver, this wasn’t a straight up, then down hike. Noo! Instead you climb up, then descend into a valley (thus losing all the precious elevation you just gained!!) and then climb back uphill and even higher than before, to finally reach the peak!

To return, you have to climb back down into this valley and back up again before your final descent. That is a LOT of mileage!

Details on Vancouver Trails:

Region: The North Shore
Difficulty: Difficult
Time: 7 hours (This was very accurate)
Distance: 9.8km (round-trip)
Elevation Gain: 385 meters ** SOOO misleading! Because of what I mentioned above!
Season: July – October
Camping: No
Dog Friendly: No
Public Transit: Yes
Approx. 30 minutes from Vancouver

Somehow I managed to convince this group to try it with me 😉 Five keen hikers at the Grouse Mountain gondola.

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My point of taking a ton of pictures was to document this hike so that others would be well-equipped with photo evidence!

This hike gets technical and you definitely use your hands to scramble over a boulder field and clutch onto ropes in slippery areas. The views are absolutely worth it though, and you get amazing views on the way up as well! I had a lot of friends back out of this hike and I would definitely recommend that you have some hiking experience and a good pair of shoes before attempting this!

The good news? You can take the Grouse Mountain Gondola to the top of Grouse to start and end your hike 🙂 Even still, be prepared for a grueling day!

Save time with the gondola

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Ranjyn and Romaine picked us up bright and early in the morning and we set out to meet her friend Mila at the mountain. Confession! Another reason I wanted to do this hike, was because I buy a seasons pass for the Grouse Grind (Nature’s Stairmaster) with the perk of treating friends to a 50% discount on gondola tickets! This is why we could start our hike and bypass the Grouse Grind 😉 (Round trip tickets are $43.95, download only is $10)

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Once at the top, follow the bear paw prints that lead the way to the bears. This also takes you towards the beginning of the trail to Goat Mountain and Crown Mountain.

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Once at the top, I pointed out the crown-like peak in the distance and said, “THAT is what we’re aiming for!”.

Beside it is a ridge resembling a camel that requires serious rock climbing gear.

It looked so far!

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Here’s a shot of Crown Mountain and the Camel about halfway into our hike:

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I liked seeing our goal and destination in the distance, but, it was also intimidating!

Fueling up for our long hike ahead

On our way towards the trailhead, we stopped for a Beaver Tail!

A very “Canadian” treat – fried pastry that’s covered in sugar and cinnamon. Eric and I like ours with a dash of lemon.

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We walked past the chairlift and towards the main peak of Grouse to reach the trailhead markers.

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Registration form for safety

There is a form to register for the hike: you fill our your information (group size, time of day, vehicle number, estimated time of return) and then keep a portion of the slip. At the end of your hike, you return the other part of the slip to indicate that your journey was completed. This is meant to alert search crews of any missing hikers.

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Here, we adopted a hiker!

He was planning to do Goat Mountain (a shorter, less strenuous hike on the way to Crown), and asked if he could hike with us until he got there. I really believe that the more is merrier with hiking (and, larger groups are safer) so we gladly welcomed him to join our group.

After a ways, we told him he should just stick with us and do Crown!

We walked along the mountain side before ascending a rocky path.

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Finally after a steady and rocky climb, we came upon our first landmark: A helicopter landing!!

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First summit

Then we reached a rocky, boulder-like mini-summit.

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From here, we continued to glimpse some great views of Crown Mountain and the Camel. Looking back, we could also see that we had made a good dent in our journey.

So many hiking options

Soon we came to these signs letting us know we were totally on track! The sign displays many other hikes that intersect – Hanes Valley Route for example.

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Now was the tricky part, descending into the valley.

I’ll be honest, this was hard. It was scary to hold on to the rope and lean back while climbing downhill. The rope is there to guide you because the rocks can get very slippery.

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These were the areas where I thought; thank goodness I have good hiking shoes!!

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After this part, the scenery opened up into the valley and a giant boulder field. We crossed some large rocks and then decided to take a snack break at the base of Crown Mountain.

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Final Ascent

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Here’s where the scrambling upwards really started!

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Hands were getting quite dirty – tip: bring hand sanitizer and napkins!

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Another boulder field

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Reached an area with smaller rocks – here we saw people start to “mountain-goat” it up by walking along the rocks. BUT there is some dark spray paint to the left that acts as marker to suggest you go left.

Final part, don’t look down!

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Finally, lunch at the top! Eric brought lots of dark chocolate – it’s always nice to celebrate a victorious summit with delicious food and stunning views!

On the way DOWN

Downhill is tougher than uphill in my opinion, for several reasons:

– End of the day – you’re tired!
– Tough on the knees and using more muscle strength to lower your body on the climb down.
– You can avoid “looking back” when hiking up (ignorance is bliss! You don’t see the steepness!) Whereas downhill you are forced to see the angle.
– Going downhill feels more slippery and requires more balance.

Biggest tip??

Do the crab!! This is where you lean back when going downhill and sometimes, using your hands behind you. I was SO delighted when I discovered this technique. Because I was leaning back, I felt much safer and that made my strides faster!

You heard it here first: I would love to create a competitive sport using this crab technique!

At the end of the hike, we finished with what has become a tradition of mine when hiking in the North Shore around dinner – Eat at BURGOO for the ultimate comfort food! (I go here after most hikes)

Love the after school special with a choice of sandwich and soup 🙂

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This is definitely a strenuous hike (even with the “cheat” of a gondola), you will get dirty and will be SORE from all the uphill and downhill.

But look at this 🙂

More epic views

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So thankful to live in Vancouver, BC!

Please comment if you have any questions about the hike! We found the Vancouver Trails site to be very accurate with timing, and the trail was well-marked overall.

My favourite Vancouver-area hikes:

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