Chill Out: Tackle the Grind this winter in snowshoes

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      When Pilates instructor Jody Brouwers isn’t running along the rugged mountain trails near her North Vancouver studio, she’s doing other outdoor activities, like hiking and skiing.

      With Grouse Mountain’s Snowshoe Grind, she has one more reason to get outside. A winter version of the popular Grouse Grind trail, it gets the heart pumping amid spectacular surroundings.

      “There are absolutely stunning views,” Brouwers tells the Georgia Straight. “It starts off easy, but then it gets steeper. It’s not as taxing as the Grouse Grind, but it’s still a great workout.

      “What I love about snowshoeing is it’s very peaceful,” says the founder of Powerhouse Pilates. “It’s quiet. You’re close to nature. It’s a great way to spend time with friends.”

      The Snowshoe Grind is a 4.3-kilometre trail with an elevation gain of 215 metres. It starts outside the Peak Chalet near the skating pond on a wide, roadlike section before winding its way through snowy trees up Dam Mountain and down again.

      Sun and snow adds up to a whole lot of fun.

      Geared to anyone who’s reasonably fit, the Snowshoe Grind has an average time of about an hour. It was designed so that if you do the Grouse Grind regularly, your times on both will be similar.

      “The idea for the trail was to have something for people who love the Grouse Grind in the winter,” says Julia Grant, Grouse Mountain Resorts’ communications manager. “It’s not a loop but an out-and-back trail with beautiful views of Howe Sound and the Strait of Georgia.”

      There are other options for those who love the idea of trekking through deep snow but prefer a more leisurely route. Grouse Mountain is home to Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park, which has several groomed trails from which to choose. Blue Grouse Loop is designed for beginner and intermediate snowshoers, while a pristine loop of three main trails that circle Dam Mountain and Thunderbird Ridge is more demanding.

      The views from the summit can look even better in winter.

      Coming up on February 7 is the annual Snowshoe Grind Mountain Run, a fun, social event with five-kilometre and one-kilometre routes, appealing to snowshoers of all abilities and fitness levels. Awards for winners in various age categories will be given out at a postrun celebration, where prize draws for all participants will also take place.  

      “It’s a great opportunity to get some friends together to enjoy a morning out on the trail, then celebrate and have some food and drink at our mountaintop après party,” Grant says.

      The Snowshoe Grind Mountain Run takes place over the Family Day long weekend, which is also when Grouse hosts 24 Hours of Winter. The fest has taken place annually since the 2010 Winter Olympics. Complimentary guided one-hour snowshoe tours at sunset and sunrise plus special night tours will be on offer (weather permitting), with the mountain open from 6 a.m. on February 6 until 10 p.m. on February 7.

      “You could be skiing or snowboarding down the Cut at 2 a.m.,” Grant says.

      Snowshoeing under the moonlight and the stars would also be magical.