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Queen and King of the Hill - Grotto Vertical KM

Week #3 - The Hidden Gem

Segment: Grotto Vertical KM

Length: 2.95 km
Elevation Gain: 1000 m

Getting to the start

Regarding parking: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT PARKING AT THE ACC. The people at the clubhouse don’t appreciate having people park on their private road, and despite having hundreds of climbers and hikers go there every day they called us to complain about encouraging parking on Indian Flats Road..

The best option is to park at Cougar Creek and run the middle horseshoe trail until you hit the Horseshoe-G8 junction. That gives you a great 20-minute warmup. Head down to the creek on G8 and turn left as soon as you cross the creek to hop onto the Echo Canyon climber's trail. The segment starts at the "4-way" intersection right after you cross the creek.

GPX file for the Approach Here

The Challenge

This is an amazing but technical climb. It involves some exposure (although you can avoid it by branching off in some sections) and a few section of hands-on scrambling. This is all just for fun, If it feels like it is too much for you or if you don't feel comfortable attempting this segment, send us a message and we'll find a solution. It is a very cool trail, definitely worth doing just for fun at a slower pace, but keep in mind that you'll have to come back down the same way you came up. The fastest runners will do the roundtrip in around 1h30 but it may take slower competitors up to 4 hours.

The segment is marked in RED on that map

From the creek at the start of the G8 bike trail, head left at the junction just past the creek. Follow the trail for a few seconds and as soon as the trail turns right, it steepens for 50 meters or so. At the top of that short steep section, the trail turns left and flattens out. Follow the rolling trail up until you reach the "Echo Canyon" junction at around 1640 m of altitude. Head right at the junction towards "The Notch / Grotto Mountain". The trail then steepens and becomes a bit less defined. A few hundred meters higher, you'll reach a plateau after hiking/scrambling up a steeper slab section. This is the notch (1880 m altitude). You should see a memorial plaque on the ground next to the trail on the flats. Once past the notch, the trail continues at a steep grade until you reach approximately 2200 m of altitude. At this point the terrain undulates a bit more until your reach tree line (2350 m of altitude). From tree line, the trail becomes again a bit less obvious/traveled. Follow the path of least resistance and aim towards the prominent summit until you reach 2450 m of altitude (1000 m of climbing since the G8 creek crossing). 

A good trick for the summit part is to finish your effort once you're past the patches of green moss and the terrain becomes 100% rocks. The segment finishes just below that elevation. 

A few tips:

  • On your watch, adjust your data screens to show altitude. This way you'll have a better idea of where the VK finishes.
  • I recommend hiking/running/scrambling/crawling until 2500 m at least to make sure you pick up the Strava Segment. 
  • Do a "split" on your watch as soon as you are past the creek crossing and do another one when you reach 2450 m of altitude. This way if you don't pick up the Strava segment correctly you'll still get a time. 

Download GPX File Here

Getting back down: Two options are available. From 2450 m, you can either come back down the way you came up. If you are feeling adventurous, you can keep scrambling up to the summit of Grotto Mountain, and then run/hike down the west ridge (towards Lady MacDonald) until you hit the ACC hiking trail. Run/Hike down the ACC trail back down to the Alpine Club of Canada. This adds a significant amount of time to your day, and the ridge can be tricky in places (some hands-on sections).

 Submit your time here!