Aside from the Lions, Crown Mountain is the most distinctive peak on Vancouver’s North Shore. Rising north of Grouse Mountain, the main summit is fittingly referred to as the Pyramid, while the curiously shaped rock formation known as the Camel sits on its shoulder.
Crown is a classic North Shore hike, but it’s not for everyone. Novices, kids, and dogs have no business on this mountain. Gaining the top requires negotiating steep trails and some exposed scrambling—and is better left to days without rain, snow, or significant wind. One slip on this mountain could do you in.
Your adventure begins at the Grouse Mountain chalet. If you’re taking transit, you can catch the #236 bus at Lonsdale Quay or the #232 at Phibbs Exchange to get to the resort base. Whether you take the Skyride or hike the Grouse Grind (or another trail) to the ski area is up to you and your wallet. (An adult Skyride ticket costs $39.95, while an annual pass goes for $99.)
Either way, make your way toward the peak of Grouse—past the grizzly bears in captivity and other resort attractions. Take the access road to the left of the base of the Lower Peak ski run.
You’ll see the hiker registration board for Lynn Headwaters Regional Park standing under a chairlift. Fill out a form so North Shore Rescue will have an idea of where to look if you get in any trouble.
Follow the rugged Alpine Trail across the eastern slopes of Dam Mountain, passing a zipline tower and the turn-off for Thunderbird Ridge. In one hour, you’ll reach the col between Little Goat and Goat mountains.
Choosing the trail to Crown Pass, you embark on the crazy-steep and slippery descent, which begins with fantastic views of your ultimate objective. A couple of fixed chains provide assistance on the way down.
One-and-a-half hours in, you’ll arrive at the trail junction in the 1,030-metre-high pass. The epic Hanes Valley route strikes off to the right, but you go straight and start the ascent of Crown Mountain.
The well-marked trail quickly gains elevation, passing an imposing cliff and rising through the woods. When you hit slabs, scramble across and up them following paint smears on rock.
Eventually, you’ll pick your way through a boulder field and rise to a shoulder above the aptly but not factually named Crater Rim arête. Crown’s southeast face lies before you.
This is where the real fun (and danger) begins. The loose trail leads you up the ridge until it’s time for the final scramble to the 1,504-metre summit. An easier route is found by staying left of the ridgetop and going up the back.
While the knife-edge summit is thrilling, it’s not exactly a comfortable lunch spot. Views of the North Shore mountains surround you, but closer at hand are the Camel and Crown’s north peaks and west summit, sometimes referred to as Beauty Peak. It takes about three hours to get to the top.
When you’re done with this precarious perch, it’s back down to Crown Pass and up to the Goat-Little Goat col. From there, you can vary part of your return by choosing the Ridge Trail. That way, you can enjoy the views from the easy summits of 1,323-metre Little Goat Mountain and 1,349-metre Dam Mountain en route to the chalet.
As described, the round trip takes around 6.5 hours from the chalet. With a net elevation gain of 470 metres (from the low point at Crown Pass to the summit), the hike covers a distance of 10 kilometres.