Trails Outside Your Door in Canmore
Published February 1, 2021
From every home in Canmore, there is a trail that can be found within only a five-minute commute - talk about a gift! Getting outside, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the beautiful scenery just outside my doorstep has been a top quarantine activity for me living in Canmore through this pandemic. With restrictions still in place, most people aren’t buying plane tickets to reach their favourite exotic destinations this Winter but instead are taking full advantage of this striking landscape. In this quaint mountain town, there are many winter outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, fat biking, cross-country skiing and skating.
In this post are some of my preferred trails of various difficulties which are all super accessible, at most within a 20-minute drive from Main Street in Downtown Canmore. There are even some cafes, shops, neighbourhoods and a hiking challenge which wins you a beer-related prize to check out along the way. See you on the trail!
There are many easy walks and hikes to do, among them the Bow River Walking Trail, the Three Sisters Pathway, the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk, and of course the famous Grassi Lakes Trail.
Bow River Walking Trail:
A perfect family walk, this 3.7 km hike is for all skill levels and is a great way to explore the town of Canmore. It features the Bow River and the immaculate surrounding mountains. Perfect for introductory fat biking.
You can start by exploring Main Street, as there are delicious cafes to pick up a coffee and a snack, amazing restaurants to try, as well as little shops along the way to window shop. Grizzly Paw Brewing Company is also on Main Street if you wanted to stop in for a cold beer.
Starting on Main Street, walk West towards to the Bow River. Take a left onto River Road and then a right once you reach the Riverside trail. You’ll come to the historic Engine Bridge and cross the river. Continue along the other side of the river, and eventually you’ll loop back and find yourself at Riverside Park.
Three Sisters Pathway:
An easy hike, this trail meanders through both open meadow areas as well as forested spots. Relish in the beauty of the river and the mountains. There is also an old mining site to find along the path as well.
From Main Street, take 8th Ave South towards Bridge Road and park at the lot on Rundle Drive after the bridge. Follow the river-hugging trail towards the Three Sisters Mountains. In about an hour’s time, you’ll reach the Market Bistro, a place where you can enjoy a latte or pick up some of their jams and preserves. From the parking spot, the first 5 km is paved and the last 1.7 km is gravel. Bikers and runners also enjoy this charming trail.
Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk:
Right in the town of Canmore, this short trail is accessed by taking Spring Creek Drive near the NWMP Barracks. Walking along Policeman’s Creek, you’ll go by calm ponds usually with swimming ducks. You might see other wildlife while strolling through the forest - elk, deer or birds.
You can head back downtown once you finish the trail by crossing the bridge or you can make it longer by continuing with the system of trails it’s a part of. Take the Larch Islands Interpretive Trail starting on the other side of Main Street from the start of Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk Trail, which will also connect with the Bow River Walking Trail.
Mineside Trailhead to Canmore Creek:
On this trail you’ll wander through a valley, encountering a waterfall and coal mining artifacts.
From Main Street, cross the bridge over the Bow River and look for the small parking lot on the east side of Bridge Road, where you’ll find the Mineside Trailhead. From Mineside Trailhead to Quarry Lake, it’s about a 3 km round-trip. If you’re looking for a little more elevation, you can continue up to the Canmore Nordic Centre on your way back towards the parking lot. The Nordic Centre is also great for Winter activities such as cross-country skiing.
Grassi Lakes Trail:
This is rated an easy to moderate hike, with an elevation gain of 250 meters and is 3.8 km round-trip. It only takes about 2 hours. This is a very popular hike in Canmore and there’s a reason for it! Enjoy the twinkling green twin lakes you’ll reach.
Only a ten-minute drive from Main Street, cross the bridge and take a left onto Three Sisters Drive. Take a right onto the Smith-Dorrien Trail, and continue onto Ken Richie Way. You’ll see the parking lot and trailhead on your right.
For more difficult hikes, the East End of Rundle, Mount Lady MacDonald and Ha Ling are three well-known and popular hikes in Canmore, all easily reachable from Downtown Canmore. Also known as the Triple Crown of Canmore, if you hike these three mountains in three days and post pictures of you and your hiking crew at the summit on the Georgetown Inn’s Facebook page, you win a beer mug that gets you discounts on beer refills at the Georgetown Inn! You can also buy a Triple Crown t-shirt, which the Inn donates a portion of the proceeds of to the Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre, “a not for profit society whose aim is to provide any individual with a disability the chance to access all sport and recreational activities in the Canadian Rockies.”
East End of Rundle (EEOR):
Even if you choose not to summit this mountain, you’ll still get the Instagram famous views of Ha Ling and the Whiteman’s Reservoir beneath it on this strenuous, but worth it, hike. You’ll also experience epic views of the Bow Valley and Spray Lakes. It’s a 5.8 km out and back trail, with a steep elevation gain.
To get to the trailhead from Main Street in Canmore, go West towards the Bow River, cross the bridge on Bridge Road and continue onto Rundle Drive. Take a left onto Three Sisters Drive, then a right onto the 742, and follow this road for about 6.8 km. The trailhead will be on your right.
Mount Lady MacDonald:
This trail is currently closed due to construction in the Cougar Creek area, however when it re-opens, prepare yourself for this difficult, but beautiful hike! Again, you’ll find extravagant views of the Bow Valley. This trail is known to be used for bird watching. It’s a 9.8 km out and back hike, with a lot of elevation gain.
You’ll find the trailhead by heading east on Main Street towards 6th Ave. Take a right onto Railway Ave, and continue onto Benchlands Trail. When you reach the roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on Benchlands. The parking lot is on your right.
Ha Ling Peak:
Last, but definitely not least, we have Ha Ling Peak as a wonderful hike! At the top, you’ll encounter scenic views of the town of Canmore and the Bow Valley. It’s rated as difficult but it is absolutely beautiful year-round! You’ll zig zag up the mountain through forested areas and might find some wildflowers in the summer.
From 8th Street in Canmore, go West to cross the bridge over the Bow River (Bridge Road). Continue onto Rundle Drive and take a left onto Three Sisters Drive. Then turn right onto the 742, the Smith-Dorrien Trail. After about 7.3 km, the trailhead will be on your left.
Imagine stepping outside your front door and having a plethora of mountain activities available just steps away from home. Call Taylor Mueller to learn about making the move to Canmore and the incredible opportunities that this town has to offer!