While everyone in Vancouver knows the Grouse Grind and may even be able to cite their best time doing it, it has its drawbacks. Paid parking, super busy all season, more stairs and less natural views enroute, closed from November till late May. There is another option. If you don’t mind getting out of the city, go and check out the Abby Grind.
Grinding it Out, Abbotsford-Style
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
Distance: 4km (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 330 metres
The Abby Grind trailhead and parking lot is right next to the Abbotsford Fish & Game Club. For the first part of the trail, you’ll hear shots being fired and echoing into the distance. The trail itself is well trees with a few peak-a-boo views as you go up. There are ¼, ½ and ¾ markers letting you know your progress along the way. The uphill portion has its challenges, but it’s not as gruelling as the Grouse Grind. The path is mostly natural, with a few stairs built in, which I prefer over Grouse which is almost all stairs.
Close to the top, there is a fork in the trail. Both will take you to the viewpoint fork, but the right one is steeper, so a better choice for the uphill, leaving the more gradual slope of the other side of the loop for on your way down. At the top of the Abby Grind, there is a fork marked wth a sign, taking you to the viewpoint lookout. Catch your breath and enjoy the lovely view of the Fraser Valley before heading back down.
Abby Grind: The Winter Experience
I went and hiked the Abby Grind with Chris back on Family Day weekend. There was still snow on the ground from all the polar freezes we got this year, but as long as you have hiking poles and microspikes, you can get your grind on. What’s really nice about doing this when there’s snow still on the trail is that a lot less people will be there, even on the weekend. Casual hikers don’t usually own spikes or poles so most will stay away when there are winter conditions. That being said, we did run into a couple of intrepid young women who decided to give it a try in regular sneakers. They abandoned the trail pretty soon after they started though, doing their best to safely slide back down.
I’m not really a “grinder” type hiker. I generally prefer to meander up a trail at whatever pace I feel like, enjoying nature and any sights or views afforded by the trail, rather than trying to make, match or beat a time. As a regular hike for my purposes, I like the Abby Grind much better than the Grouse Grind. But if you wanted to do it as a regular thing and be able to skip doing any downhill grinding and take a scenic ride down a gondola, you pretty much have to stick to Grouse. Of course, you’re outta luck once it closes for the winter, so maybe you might want to take a little drive out of town and try the Abby Grind for a change.
Have you ever hiked the Abby Grind? How did you like it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.