Canmore Trail Network
Canmore maintains approximately 70 km’s of trails within the town’s boundaries, making it easy to get around on foot. There is a network of walking trails through town and along the Bow River as well as hikes of varying difficulty that go into the surrounding mountain valleys.
Canmore’s elaborate community trail network is utilized by walkers, joggers, cyclists and mountain bikers. Around town you can see the trail markers on trees, posts and garbage cans. There is a blue, green, red and yellow colour coded trail system that connects the community, allowing you to travel from one end of town to the other or switch from one trail to another to get to your desired destination. More information about the trail network and downloadable maps can be found here: Canmore Trail Maps.
Bow River Loop
Elevation gain: none
Distance: 2km loop
Time: 25 minutes
Location: Walk from downtown to bridge on Rundle Drive or park in the lot just after the bridge.
This is a pleasant walk that is easily accessed from downtown. It follows along the picturesque setting of the Bow River and offers views of the surrounding mountain peaks, including the famous Three Sisters.When approaching the Rundle road bridge from downtown follow the path along the river to the right until you reach the old CPR railway trestle bridge. Cross it and follow the path on the opposite side of the river back towards the Rundle Road bridge completing the loop. If you wish to extend the walk you can include the Larch Island trail. At the engine bridge continue along the Bow River trail and turning left across a foot bridge onto the Larch Islands interpretive trail.
For a short scenic stroll you don’t have to do the loop. Just head in either direction along the river path and walk for as long as you desire and then turn back.
Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk
Policeman’s Creek trail can be accessed from downtown on Main Street (8th St.) by Spring Creek Drive near the NWMP Barracks. When you get to the end of the trail cross the bridge into the Spring Creek residential area and head back downtown along the road.
This is a short and easy level walk right in the town of Canmore. The trail is 1km long and then connects to a 700 meter wooden boardwalk. It follows along Policeman’s Creek and past ponds where you can often see ducks swimming. In the forested sections listen for song birds. You may even see elk or deer.
The Policeman’s Creek trail connects to a system of trails in Canmore. It can easily be combined with other trails to create longer walks. Another portion of the Policeman’s Creek trail starts on the opposite side of Main Street beside the large art sculpture of a human head. This section goes through the forest and by turning towards the Bow River on the Spur Line Trail you will connect up with the Bow River Trail where the engine bridge is.
Larch Islands Interpretative Trail
Location: A parking area is available at the end of 15th Street near 11 Avenue. From the parking lot follow the trail to the Bow River trail and turn right. Walk along the river turning left at a footbridge onto the Larch Islands Interpretative Trail. There’s several off shoots, keep on the main trail and after interpretative sign #7 there is a T-junction. Go right and head back to where you started.
This trail starts out following the Bow River. Turn left across a foot bridge onto the Larch Islands interpretive trail. In the spring there are chances of seeing wildflowers and in the fall the Larch trees display a rich colour of yellow and orange.
Benchlands Ridge Trail And Hoodoos
You can start this walk from town on Benchlands Trail, it crosses a bridge over the Trans Canada Highway. Shortly after crossing the bridge you will see the trail running alongside the road. Follow it uphill until you see Benchlands Ridge trail branching off to the left. The ridge offers panoramic views overlooking the town of Canmore below and the backdrop of mountains. At the end of the ridge trail is a small set of hoodoos. From there a trail heads directly downhill going past a cemetery and reconnecting with the Benchlands Trail.
Parking: A little ways up Benchlands Trail on the left hand side is a parking area bordered by large rocks that can be used for this trail.
Three Sisters Pathway
Elevation gain: 2o meters
Distance: 6.7 km one way
Time: 70 minutes one way
Location: park at the lot after the bridge on Rundle Drive. The river path is just beyond the parking area, head right towards the Three Sisters mountains.
This is another of our favorite places to walk in Canmore. It’s also a great pathway for riding bikes and is popular with runners.
The route follows the Bow River downstream towards the village of Three Sisters Mountain. The trail goes through open meadows and some forested areas. There’s scenic views of the river and mountains and an old mining site. You can go as far along the pathway as you want or al the way to the Three Sisters Village.
Note: From the Bow River bridge parking lot trailhead the first 5 km is paved; the remaining 1.7 km is gravel.
Grassi Lakes Hiking Trail
Elevation gain: 250 meters
Distance 3.8km return
Time: 2 hours
Location: On Spray Lakes Road and continue approximately 1km past the turn off for the Nordic Center to just after where the pavement ends. The parking lot is to the left.
This is one of the most popular hikes in Camore and one of our favorites. It leads to a set of twin turquoise coloured lakes.
The trail splits into two options shortly from the start. For the easier trail keep to the right. It follows along an old gravel access road with a mild incline through the forest. It is suitable for chariot style infant strollers.
To the left is the more difficult option which also climbs through the forest and then becomes steep offering views overlooking Canmore and a waterfall. Both trails meet up and continue on to the turquoise lakes.
The lakes sit at the base of an ancient coral reef. Up above them is a short scramble up the cliffs where native pictographs can be seen. Use caution if you are going to attempt the scramble, the rocks are loose and never touch the pictographs, the oil from you hands will wear them away.
Grotto Canyon Hiking Trail
The Grotto Canyon hike is actually closer to the hamlet Exshaw, of Grotto Canyon is a fairly easy hike. The majority of it is along a creek bed that winds it’s way through a narrow canyon lined with towering rock walls. It ends at a waterfall that flows from the steep slabs of rock above.
The first kilometer of the trail goes through a forest and passes by Baymag plant #2, an industrial plant producing magnesium carbonate. Shortly after the plant on the right hand side there is an opening which is marked with flagging tape. Continue through the forest and continue on until it opens up to the Grotto creek bed that you will continue to follow up river.
Caution should be taken in the early spring when water levels can be high. During the rest of the spring and summer months the creek bed can range from a mild trickle of water or it may have areas where higher water levels cause you to do a bit of boulder hopping.
It’s also possible to do winter hiking in Grotto Canyon. During this time of year the hike is on the frozen sheet of ice that covers the creek bed. The winter hike takes about an hour longer to navigate and requires ice cleats.
Pay close attention to the canyon walls at eye level looking for ancient Hopi pictographs. Respect this precious history, the oils in your hands deteriorate the images. They are rapidly fading from years of people touching them. Admire them with your eyes only.
Around a final corner the waterfalls will appear. Be careful getting there, when the rocks are wet they can be very slippery.
Elevation gain: 100 meters
Distance: 4.2 km return
Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours return
Location: the trail head starts at the Grotto Pond Day Use parking area. On the west side of the parking lot there is a wooden sign marked with Grotto Creek Trail.
Directions: From Canmore head east on Bow Valley Trail for about 10 km’s and look for the sign for the Grotto Pond Day Use Area. From Calgary head west on the Trans Canada Hwy to the Sebee turn off (highway #40) and make a left onto Bow Valley Trail until you come to the same parking area.
Tips For Hiking The Grotto Canyon
The conditions in the Grotto Canyon change seasonally. Consult a trail report or check with a visitor center before attempting a hike. In early spring the melt water can cause high water flow and if heavy rains have been predicted the water level can quickly rise or flash floods can occur. Wear sturdy footwear for walking on the loose rocky creek bed.
Walks And Hikes In Banff And Lake Louise
If you’re looking for other interesting walks and trails there plenty of options in nearby Banff such as the popular hiking at Johnston Canyon. It can be done in all seasons including a hike to the frozen waterfalls in the winter. In the town of Banff you can take a casual stroll through Cascade Gardens or summit Tunnel Mountain. There’s plenty of walks and easy hikes in the Lake Louise area too.