Metro Vancouver recently announced a new 75-hectare (185-acre) regional park on the slopes of Grouse Mountain. As of May 1st, the park will include the popular Grouse Grind, BC Mountaineering Club (BCMC) trail and a portion of the Baden-Powell trails within its boundary.
Like all big announcements, this one raised a few questions. Most often, our members wanted to know if the new designation would affect seasonal closures, and if it would result in improved trail maintenance (on the BCMC trail in particular).
Because this news is so new, we can’t answer these questions with 100% certainty. We hope there will be a chance for public input on park planning where these sorts of rules will be spelled out!
That said, Alex Wallace took the time to shed some light on these subjects. We hope his insights help answer some of your questions. Stay tuned for more details!
Hikers will no doubt have seen the many reports of the new ‘Grouse’ Regional Park being created by Metro Vancouver Parks. A consultation and planning process will follow the May 1st opening, and we hope to see an open house this summer. There are strong indications from local mayors that the provision of much-needed regular trail maintenance and appropriate funding will follow the planning process*.
The six or seven month seasonal closure of the Grouse Grind (or more specifically the gate and fence closing off the Baden-Powell trail access) is likely to remain in place, and there are actually three reasons for this closure:
- The first is the geotechnical hazard that underlies the start of the Grind and BCMC Trail, in the form of a debris pile that could become a debris flow when it is saturated with rainwater or runoff—particularly destructive if this is simultaneous to the expected major Cascadia earthquake event. This may seem like an arcane concern, but for years GVWD has employed a consultant who measures rainfall and soil saturation at this one specific site, and this in fact triggers closures.
- The second issue is snow and ice. Many visitors get their information from websites and may have absolutely no idea of trail conditions at higher elevations, where crampons and an ice axe may be useful in winter and spring. Given the several hundred thousand visitors attempting to ascend the Grouse Grind each year, the number of rescues could be significantly higher if these closures were not implemented.
- The third reason is that each spring in recent years, an experienced local trail crew has been at work rebuilding the entire Grouse Grind, including numerous steep sections rebuilt as wooden stairways with landings (and this has to be seen to be believed). The start of the Grind has also been rerouted 100 metres west, almost to the gate at the start of the Baden-Powell trail, so the trailhead is no longer adjacent to the BCMC trail (again, possibly to avoid the unstable debris pile issue). It is possible that as the construction is finished and is replaced by annual maintenance, the extent of this seasonal closure will be reviewed and changed in future years. However, with a little effort it is also possible for experienced hikers to access the extensive trail system from the east on the existing Baden-Powell trail.
* Note: Metro Vancouver is funded and managed by 21 Lower Mainland municipalities, so local hikers will most likely have a councillor representing them on Metro Vancouver Regional Parks that they now can thank, and perhaps encourage to be proactive on these trail-related issues at Grouse.