Five Fun and Scenic Walks Around Canmore

Canmore is one of three major towns in the Bow Valley and the closest to Calgary. It sits nestled next to the Bow River between big mountains in every direction.

Three sisters as seen from most walks in Canmore

There are a number of fun and scenic walks around town for those looking to keep busy during a short trip or looking to experience the many nooks and crannies of the Bow Valley.

The mountains close to town are separated by canyons and have long ridges, slopes, faces and features connecting the summits to the valley. The following are five of the most popular walks around Canmore.

Grassi Lakes

One of the oldest hiking trails in Canada, the Grassi Lakes trail takes you from the valley up a meandering path to the two famous-for-their-turquoise-colour Grassi Lakes.

Above the lakes is a popular rock climbing area on an ancient coral reef. Along the trail you can see ancient pictographs on a boulder.

Ha Ling above Grassi Lakes

Parking: The parking is located on Spray Lakes Road south of Canmore, about 1km past the Nordic Center. When the pavement ends on the Spray Lakes, make a left down a hill and park. Pick up the trail in the woods nearby.

You gain and lose about 250 metres over a 3.8 km return trip that usually take about two hours. That depends on how long you sit around to soak up the view, continue the hike or climb.

Grotto Canyon

Grotto Mountain is a big peak that dominates the skyline northeast of Canmore. The canyon behind it has long been known to hikers and climbers, but also has 1,300-year-old pictographs.

To walk starts at Grotto Pond and takes you along gentle trails and into the canyon proper. Follow loose trail between the cayon walls for a few hundred metres passing old rock climbs.

Ice climbs in Grotto Canyon

Find the pictograph on the left before a choke in the canyon leads you to the waterfalls that are often climbed in winter. Head left through the Narrows into the back canyon where adventure awaits.

The pictographs you pass are said to be by the Hopi and the flute player (named Kokapelli) is a symbol of their culture.

Parking: The trail starts when you park at Grotto Pond and head west. The trail is not considered too difficult and you gain 100 metres over a 4.1 km return trip that often takes about two hours.

River Trails

Canmore has dozens of trails that weave around town, past shopping centres, along the river and up to nearly every development.

The trails include the Bow River Loop, the Hoodoos along Benchlands Ridge, the Larch Island Interpretive Trails and Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk.

Bow River Bridge on the river trail

You can link and combine any or all of the trails into about 70 km of trail walking. There are trail markers along the way with maps to point you in the right direction. At the centre of all the maps is Main Street and out RE/Max office.

Cougar Creek

In 2013, Cougar Creek jumped to National fame when it flooded, causing big dollars in damage to homes, roads and infrastructure.

Before the flood, the canyon was a popular place for hikers and climbers, and still is, but had many more trees and patches of green.

Three Sisters above Cougar Creek

Drive up Benchlands Trail north of the Trans Canada Highway and park in the obvious parking area behind the mega eagle statue.

Follow the trail up the creek and into the canyon. Branch off left up Mount Lady Mac or right down trails to the Alpine Club of Canada or continue up the canyon.

Pass over the large metal debris net and notice the scaring from the big flood. Pass rock climbs and trees until you want to turn around.

Three Sisters Trail

A nice day walk for those looking for a well maintained trail close to town with outstanding views. Follow the 14 km round-trip path along the Bow River from downtown to Three Sisters community east of Canmore.

This makes for a beautiful and mellow time in the valley where you can turn around at any point. If you have access to a bike, it’s even more fun as a bike route.

Three Sisters above the Three Sisters trail

From downtown find the trail south or west of the Bow River bridge and pass a few steep turns before glading along past old Canmore mines and a sulphur pond into the forest and past big homes.

The big homes you pass are some of the most expensive in the valley and some are for sale right now. Follow this link to find out more.

Boardwalk leading into downtown Canmore from Springcreek