Hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, alpine skiing, rafting, cliff jumping & many more
Crown Mountain is a prominent peak (elevation 1,504 m) in the North Shore Mountains, which is visible from most of Vancouver and area. It is located behind Grouse Mountain and can be accessed either via a gondola or via Grouse Grind or BCMC trails. The hike is about 10 km return from the top of Grouse mountain with 350 m elevation gain, and 780 m cumulative elevation gain. Do not let the moderate elevation gain mislead you. The trail is no walk in the park even for fit hikers. Adding Grouse Grind or BCMC trail to get to the trail head will make for a long grueling day.
We contemplated the idea of hiking Crown Mountain for some time debating whether to take kids along for this challenging hike, as we had seen some conflicting reports about the final ascent to the Crown Mountain summit, which some described as class 2-3 scramble, while others qualified as a class 5.0+ climb. As we further researched the subject it turned out that a high class 5 climbing referred to the Camel which is located next to the Crown. This fact along with Vancouver Outdoor description of the Crown Mountain hike as a non-technical scramble reassured us that it would be safe to take kids along on this hike.
The pictures below show triangular Crown mountain on the left and rectangular Camel on the right.
This is the Crown Mountain summit close up. As you can see it does not look too sketchy or challenging.
We hiked Crown mountain trail on Sunday, July 10, 2016 with our three boys nine and ten years old. As the adult gondola return ticket costs $44 and kid’s one is only $15, including “ultimate experience”, we decided to hike a BCMC trail up and bought gondola tickets for kids so that they could enjoy some sightseeing while we did our BCMC trail warming up exercise, which took us about 1 1/2 hour.
There were still large patches of snow on the trail, which made me regret that I had left my gaiters at home. We did not have crampons, and did not feel like this was an issue at all, as the snow fields were relatively small and rare.
We were lucky to catch a sight of a beautiful black tailed deer with large furry antlers feeding on green leaves.
The biggest challenge in this hike was to stay on the right track all the time, as there are multiple trails and intersections, which are not clearly marked. We missed an unmarked turn to the Crown Mountain and had to ask other hikers for directions and go back a few hundred meters. Do not hesitate to ask for directions to avoid going in circles or heading down the wrong path. We met hikers who ended up going to Dam mountain instead of Little Goat Mountain on the same day in that area. You should follow Thunderbird trail and turn left at an intersection to stay on the trail to Crown Mountain. The right turn will take you to the Little Goat Mountain.
On the way back, right after the summit our older son ran ahead of us and led other kids down the wrong path. We were quick to spot an error and lead them back to the marked trail. It may be quite easy to get lost on this trail for a lone hiker. Hiking with friends and family is always a safer option.
The second half of the trail involved a steep chained descent into the Crown pass followed by a relentless high grade ascent to the Crown summit.
The trail traversed a large boulder field:
There were a number of scrambles along the trail that looked steep but were fairly easy to negotiate even for kids:
The final ascent to the summit was easier than expected. There are alternate scrambling routes to the summit, which makes it a fun place to explore for kids and adults alike. The quality time spent at the summit and breathtaking panoramic views from the top are worth the effort. Unfortunately, we could not see much from the summit due to foggy conditions, which partially cleared when we were still on the Crown ridge and we were able to capture some views. You should plan this hike on a sunny day if you want to get the best of views.
We completed the trail in 7 hours as expected (plus an extra 1 1/2 hours for BCMC trail) without any incident. This is a great one day hike for an experienced alpine hiker, which I would rate 5 out 5 * in terms of terrain variability, views at the top, overall fun factor and accessibility. At the same time this hike is no place for inexperienced hikers or vertigo sufferers. If you enjoy alpine hiking and scrambling, then Crown mountain should be on your to do list. You will love exploring the Crown summit as much as we did.