Polytrichum Lookout vs. Grouse Grind


Update: For an additional workout, I have added comparison stats at the bottom of this page for the round trip to El Paso Junction as well.

Two very good and very different workouts.

Here is the location of the Polytrichum lookout and El Paso Junction route…

Polytrichum Lookout is located on the Halvor Lunden trail on Eagle Mountain. Its trail head is at the Buntzen Lake Recreation Area. Many people park in the overflow/equestrian parking lot; however, you can park in one of the three main parking lots, for a just a slightly longer hike.

From the overflow/equestrian parking lot, there is 2.5 km hike and a 550 m elevation gain to get to Polytrichum Lookout. You will hike through a dense forest and cross some streams. At the lookout, you’ll be have this great view…

Polytrichum Lookout

The view looks northwest and the first little range you see is Buntzen Ridge – where the Diez Vistas Trail is located. The trail continues up Eagle Mountain, but for a quick workout, many people go to Polytrichum and turn back.

Conversely, the Grouse Grind, which is located in North Vancouver is 2.9 km long and there is a 853 m elevation gain.

Here are some differences:

Polytrichum Lookout:

• 33 km and 45 minutes driving from Downtown Vancouver
• 10 km and 15 minutes driving from Coquitlam Centre
• 2.5 km one way X 2 = 5 km total
• 550 m elevation gain
• Average Grade = 27.6%
• Plenty of parking (only full on sunny summer weekends and holidays after 11 am)
• Free Parking
• Not busy
• Open year round
• Descent can be tough on the knees

Grouse Grind:

• 13 km and 20 minutes driving from Downtown Vancouver
• 40 km and up to 1 hour driving from Coquitlam Centre
• 2.9 km one way (most people take gondola down)
• 853 m elevation gain
• Average Grade = 31%
• Parking lots are often busy and crowded
• Parking is NOT free
• It is often very crowded
• Closes when trail is too icy or snow-covered – it is determined by Metro Vancouver
• Mosquitoes can be bothersome at times
• Most people pay to take gondola down, which is another thing you have to wait for
• Can descend via the BCMC trail
• Knees are spared from pain of descent if you take the gondola down
• Nice restaurant at top

One thing in common is that you’ll burn roughly the same amount of calories (assuming you take the gondola down for Grouse Grind). For me, both workouts burn between 1200 and 1300 calories.

Polytrichum / El Paso Junction / Grouse Grind comparison stats:
Polytrichum Lookout:
• 2.5 km one way
• 5 km return
• 550 m elevation gain
• Average Grade = 27.6%
El Paso Junction:
• 4 km one way
• 8 km return
• 800 m elevation gain
• Average Grade = 23.0%
Grouse Grind:
• 2.9 km one way
• 6 km return on BCMC
• 853 m elevation gain
• Average Grade = 31.0%


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