Thinking about tackling the North Vancouver trail nicknamed "Mother Nature's StairMaster?" Here's a quick look at some things you should know before heading out.

Where is it?

The Grouse Grind trail is part of Grouse Mountain Regional Park, located on the southern slope of the mountain off Nancy Greene Way. The park also includes the BCMC Trail and part of the Baden-Powell Trail.

Pay parking is available in Lot D of the regional park, and costs $2 for three hours or $4 for the day.

For directions on public transit, use TransLink's trip planner tool. Buses 232 and 236 go to Grouse Mountain.

When is it open?

The Grouse Grind opened for the season on Friday. Hours depend on amount of daylight, so anyone thinking of heading uphill should check Metro Vancouver's website.

Currently, the gate opens at 6:15 a.m., and the last entry is at 6:30 p.m. 

How long is the trail?

The Grouse Grind is 2.9 kilometres, with an elevation gain of 853 metres (2,800 feet). According to Grouse Mountain, there are 2,830 steps in total.

Individual times depend on fitness level, motivation, how many people are on the trail, whether any breaks are taken and other factors.

Grouse Mountain says the average time is about 1.5 hours, while Metro Vancouver says it's two to 2.5 hours.

The record, Grouse Mountain says, is 23 minutes and 48 seconds.

Am I ready for it?

If you have health issues including high blood pressure, heart problems or breathing problems, Metro Vancouver advises you choose another trail.

"The hike is rated 'difficult' because of its steepness," the website explains

"You need to be in good physical shape to tackle the trail. It is not a walk in the park. There are no flat sections – it is straight up."

Everyone from children to grandparents do the Grouse Grind, but hikers need strong hips and legs to climb, Grouse Mountain said.

"If you are unsure if you are ready to do the Grouse Grind, we strongly recommend that you try some easier Vancouver trails and see how you do."

There are limited rest spots and only a few benches, the resort said. It advises those thinking of taking the trail to train in advance with a workout that includes cardio, squats and lunges.

How should I prepare?

Don't wear jeans and flipflops, most websites and hiking guides say.

Wear trail shoes or light hiking boots, and dress in layers of breathable fabrics. While climbing it's unlikely to feel cold, but at the top there may still be snow on the ground in the spring.

"Temperatures and conditions at the top of the mountain can change quickly so have an outer rain layer ready if the forecast calls for precipitation," Grouse Mountain advises.

Bring water, and make sure you've had a proper meal. You may want to consider packing a banana, an energy bar or another type of snack that's high in potassium and sodium, the website says. Pack water or a sports beverage to stay hydrated while climbing.

Keep in mind that there are no washrooms or outhouses along the path.

Do not bring your dog – they're not permitted on the trail.

Let someone know you're going and when you expect to return, and bring your cellphone in case of emergency.

Bring a headlamp or flashlight depending on when you're going. Metro Vancouver warns, "darkness comes quickly this time of year, especially in the forest."