Impatient hikers causing Grouse Grind trail conditions to deteriorate

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Grouse Grind / Shutterstock

Eager hikers who are climbing mother nature’s stair master along the face of Grouse Mountain could delay the opening of the trail for everyone else.

Over the past few weeks of relatively mild and sunny weather, there has been a spike in people ignoring warning signs and going around the Grouse Grind base’s locked gate and fences to complete the intense workout. However, officials with the Metro Vancouver Regional District maintain that it is far too early for people to hike the trail.

The Grouse Grind is usually closed from November to May to protect not only hikers from hazardous conditions but also to reduce the impact to the trail from use in wet conditions during the winter and early-spring months, even during periods of sunny weather.

“Heavy rainfall, run-off and cooler temperatures cause the trail surface to become saturated and remain saturated between rain events,” Mike Mayers, the Superintended in Environmental Management for Metro Vancouver, told Vancity Buzz. “Using the trail in these conditions can cause permanent changes, which can increase soil erosion and exposes tree roots. When roots are exposed and people step on them the trees can die and have to be removed.”

Every spring prior to the opening of the trail, the regional district’s maintenance crews perform extensive work to stabilize the trail, and in certain areas deemed required stairs are added to the trail or rebuilt. However, those who use the trail in the winter can dislodge existing stairs on earth that is packed with moisture at this time of year.

“In fact, by using the trail in the wetter months hikers can delay the trail’s spring opening because of the amount of extra work required to ensure the trail is safe,” Mayers adds.

For the 2014 season, the Grouse Grind opened on May 17 and closed on December 4, one of the trail’s latest closing dates in recent memory. About 100,000 people annually complete “the Grind,” which is a 853-metre vertical gain over a distance of 2.9-kilometres to the “peak of Vancouver.”

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