- Difficulty Difficult
- Time 7 hours
- Round-Trip 9.8km
- Elevation Gain 385 meters
- Season July - October
- Camping No
- From Vancouver 30 minutes
- Public Transit Yes
- Dog Friendly No
The hike to Crown Mountain behind Grouse Mountain is very difficult but on a clear day, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the Capilano Watershed, the Lions, the city of Vancouver in the distance, and many backcountry coastal mountains. The jagged peak, which resembles a crown, towers above several of the other nearby mountains. What makes this trail so difficult is you have to hike down a very steep trail into Crown Pass before hiking up the steep side of Crown Mountain, then return the same route. The elevation change is therefore misleading compared to other hikes as you have to essentially hike the elevation change twice.
The trail to Crown Mountain is located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and is best accessed via the Alpine Trail behind Grouse Mountain by taking the Grouse Mountain Skyride to the top. Ambitious hikers can also take the Grouse Grind, BCMC Trail, or Hanes Valley route but adding these routes onto the Crown Mountain trail will make for a very long, gruelling day.
From the Grouse Mountain Chalet, walk towards the Peak ski run and the area where the Grizzly Bear enclosure is located. Pass the Grizzly Bears on your left and continue onto the gravel towards the ski run. Just to the left of the ski run is a gravel road that takes you into the backcountry behind Grouse. Follow this road as it passes along the mountain and offers a few interesting views.
The wide gravel road abruptly ends and a very rocky trail heads uphill. Follow this trail as it narrows but continues climbing quickly as you pass under, then over a couple of pipes. You want to follow the signs to the Alpine Trail but the signage in this area can be a bit confusing as the Alpine Trail is not mentioned on all signs. Pass the first sign (which only mentions the Ridge Trail and does not mention the Alpine Trail) and continue uphill until you reach a junction with a second sign. Go right at the second sign and follow the Alpine Trail until it reaches a zipline platform. If you reach the zipline, you are on the right trail. Continue along the Alpine Trail by going left as you begin hiking into the backcountry and away from all of the tourists at Grouse Mountain.
The Alpine Trail continues gaining elevation as the well marked trail passes several junctions, include those to Thunderbird Ridge, Dam Mountain, and 2 junctions to Little Goat Mountain. The trail descends slightly to a sign that points to Crown Mountain to the left. Go left onto the Crown Mountain Trail and you immediately emerge from the trees onto a rocky outcrop with a direct view of your destination.
Begin the difficult part of the hike by walking down the trail towards Crown Pass. The next 1km will be the first real test as it descends very steeply, over slippery rocks and through a series of sections that have chains to help you. Be careful as the trail is often muddy and slippery due to being hidden from direct sunlight. Eventually, the trail opens from the forest as you cross a small boulder field. A short distance later and you reach the junction at the bottom of Crown Pass with the Hanes Valley Trail.
Continue hiking past the Hanes Valley Junction as the trail immediately begins to climb steeply over large rooted trees and big rocks used as steps. The next 1.9km to the top is difficult, offering little rest. When you reach a boulder field, look for the yellow spray painted markings on the rocks and follow those across the field where the trail enters the forest on the other side. The trail continues climbing before a brief drop into a dried creek bed, then back to the uphill slog.
Passing through the second boulder field offers the first views that look down towards the Capilano Watershed area. Continue along the trail as you climb up some rocks and the trail eventually reaches a big spray painted dot on the side of the rock. This rock is the final portion to the very peak but it's a bit challenging to climb onto because there is no easy crevice to grab onto. You can either climb up onto the peak by the big dot or follow a small trail to the left and climb up onto the rock around the side. Be very careful on or around the peak as it's a long way down on all sides and slipping and falling will mean serious injury and possibly death.
On a clear sunny day, the views from Crown Mountain are nothing short of spectacular. You can see the city of Vancouver in the distance, down into the Hanes Valley, down towards the Capilano watershed, over to the mountains near Cypress, the Lions, and well into the backcountry, including mountains as far north as Squamish.
Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to return to Grouse Mountain as the trail is just as difficult returning. Carefully hike back down the steep rocks and descend back towards Crown Pass. Pass the junction with Hanes Valley and begin climbing out of Crown Pass. Often at the end of the day, you will encounter tired hikers who have made their way up the steep Hanes Valley route. Just before the Alpine Trail on the rocky outcrop, take the opportunity to look back at Crown Mountain to see where you had been and marvel in the hard work it took to reach its peak.
Return to Grouse Mountain by going right on the Alpine Trail and staying on the trail as you pass the other junctions. At the zipline platform, go right and follow the trail downhill until it meets with the access road. Walk back down the road towards the grizzly bear enclosure before returning to the Grouse Mountain Skyride.