The Best Canmore Hikes and Walks

Here is our guide to the best Canmore hikes. The locals of the town and its visitors are fortunate to have a wide selection of walks, hikes, and mountains to scramble. The town has around 70km of trails in town and is surrounded by a plethora of peaks that form the Bow Valley.

That means there is plenty of room for exploration as a large network links the various neighborhoods, parks, Canmore Nordic Center, and points of interest.

Canmore Hikes and Walks


Bow River Loop

The Bow River Loop is a pleasant circular walk around the Bow River outside the center of Canmore. The loop follows a gravel path that leads along the Bow River and over the two pedestrian bridges. The highlight lies in the two bridges the first off the main street bridge that offers fantastic views of a fork in the Bow River with views of the Three Sisters Mountains.

The second bridge is the Engine Street Bridge, an old railway bridge used by the mining companies that has been converted to a pedestrian bridge. The trail connects the two paths, and several offshoots offer exploration. We love the walk with some coffee from Eclipse Coffee Roasters in downtown Canmore.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: N/A
  • Distance: 2 km
  • Time: 20 minutes

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

Policeman's Creek Boardwalk

The raised boardwalk along Policeman’s Creek is a scenic walk that great for birding. It’s open year-round perfect for witnessing the various seasons in Canmore. Policeman’s Creek is a small branch off of the Bow River and the walk stretches from the Canmore High School and down to the Spring Creek neighborhood.

It’s a lovely walk, but the most popular route is to simply walk along the raised boardwalk from Main Street and down to Spring Creek. A short stroll that’s an excellent way to pass twenty minutes, take a few photos and spot some birdlife. It’s always a treat!

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: N/A
  • Distance: 4 km
  • Time: 40 minutes

Larch Islands Interpretative Trail

Larch Island takes its name from the trees found along the creek and Bow River shoreline. To reach the island interpretative trail, continue past the Engine Bridge along the Bow River.

The trail follows along the shoreline and is often quiet, so you’ll find a peaceful slice of nature. Turn left across a short footbridge that moves around the small island. In the summer months, you’ll find wildflowers and birdlife, while it’s a great trail to spot larches in the fall.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: N/A
  • Distance: 3.5 km
  • Time: 40 minutes

Benchlands Ridge Trail and Hoodoos

The Benchlands Ridge Trail can be accessed from Downtown Canmore, but it does require walking over the busy highway overpass and up to Cougar Creek. The most pleasant experience would be to start from the Cougar Creek parking lot opposite the dog park. It’s a nice path that moves along a large bench and offers views across the Bow Valley to The Three Sisters.

It’s tough to argue with the panoramic views although it is over the TransCanada so expect a little road noise. At the end of the ridge is a few small hoodoos that are worth checking out. For the best experience combine the trail with the Montane trail to make a loop.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 195 meters
  • Distance: 4.0 km
  • Time: 1 – 1.5 hours

Quarry Lake

Quarry Lake is the former site of the Canmore mine and a successful revitalization project that is beloved by the town’s residents. It’s been a local’s hangout for years now, but the secret has gotten out. Now visitors flock to the park on weekend summer days to swim and enjoy the warm weather. It’s also popular for the off-leash dog park that neighbors Quarry Lake perfect for some catch or play with you doggo.

The small lake has a nice loop you can walk around and a plethora of trails extend out from the Quarry Lake into the surrounding neighborhoods and other trails like the Highline. If you do venture out on the surrounding trails keep in mind several trails are biked focused and managed by the local mountain bike organization, of course, hikers are welcome to walk the trails.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 15 m
  • Distance: 3 kms
  • Time: 30 min – 1 hr

Three Sisters Pathway

This is our favorite walk in Canmore plus it’s a great option for bikes and runners. Chances are you might even us see us on the trail as it’s our access into town from our home in the Three Sisters Mountain Village. The trail is a mix of gravel and paved paths that extends follows the Bow River downstream to the Three Sisters. As the trail moves alongside the river it passes several meadows, creeks, and forests.

We’ve seen a lot of wildlife along the trail in particular birdlife in the river. There is also a good chance you’ll come across some elk as they’re plentiful, especially in the winter months. Don’t worry about mountain views as they’re plentiful, as with just about anything in Canmore.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 100 meters
  • Distance: 1 km – 15kms
  • Time: 30 mins – 4 hrs

Grassi Lakes

Grassi Lake is one of our favorites and the one hike we’ve probably done the most in the Canadian Rockies as we live just down the road from the trailhead in Canmore. The mesmerizing colors of the water at Grassi Lakes is remarkable and easy to reach on a short hike. Though there are other trails in the area, they’re clearly marked, and you’ll know to turn around when you’ve reached the impassably steep part.

About five kilometers south of town, the lakes are easy to get to and you may want to consider packing a few some food for a picnic, as it’s one of the most picturesque places around Canmore. Stunning views of a nearby waterfall and the town of Canmore below present plenty of photo opportunities so grab your favorite travel camera.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 233 meters
  • Distance: 4.3 kms
  • Time: 1 – 2 hrs

Grotto Canyon

An easy hike that’s good year-round is Grotto Canyon. Even in the winter, this famous canyon with rock art is possible to walk along the frozen creek. In the summertime, it’s popular for families seeking to enjoy the narrow slot canyon and climbers looking to scale its walls. At only 4km in length, you can check this one off the list in an hour or two.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation: 390 meters
  • Distance: 7.1 kms
  • Time: 2 – 3 hrs

Lady Macdonald Teahouse

Lady-Mac-Teahouse

This is a popular hike with locals and visitors for a quick workout or trail run. It’s a good early season hike as the mountain receives a lot of direct sunlight which melts the snow and has low avy risk late in the season. Once at the top there is a large platform which was the site of a planned teahouse that never came to be.

It is the perfect spot to take in the views of Canmore down below. Most hikers will stop their journey at the “teahouse,” but you can continue along to the true summit. However, the true summit requires some exposed scrambling along a narrow ridge. Probably best to leave the summit for experienced hikers/scramblers. The majority of the hike is spent in the forest so if you have peak summer hiking weather I’d choose another hike, plus the views are over the town and highway.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 1,015 meters
  • Distance: 8.7 kms
  • Time: 1:30 – 5 hrs

The Highline

The Highline is a worthwhile trail that connects Quarry Lake with the Three Sisters Mountain village via a shelf that sits below the peaks of Ha Ling and Lawrence Grassi. As the trail climbs a few hundred meters it winds through a lush forest full of birdlife and the occasional large mammal. It is largely used by mountain bikers, myself included, as it’s a great workout that can be done in an hour.

Despite the elevation gain, there is not much for views outside of a few avalanche paths/gullies that look down on the trail. It’s also worth mentioning the extensive network of illegal trails (pirate trails cut through wildlife corridor) that cut through the wildlife corridor that makes it easy to get lost, although the main trail is largely self-explanatory. The trail is a point to point with multiple options up and down this is explains the large variation for distance and time.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 300+ meters
  • Distance: 13 – 25 kms
  • Time: 2 – 8 hours

Grassi Knob

Grassi Knob is a right above the Three Sisters development in Canmore and arguably has the best view of the Three Sisters in Canmore. It’s a small peak that sits right below Ship’s Prow and has no official trail or routes up to the top. However, it is most easily accessed from the Three Sisters Creek to the Highline Trail. It’s also increased in popularity over the year so the path through the forest is easy enough to follow. I’d suggest downloading a GPX track to avoid confusion.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 758 meters
  • Distance: 6.4 kms
  • Time: 2 – 3 hours

Wind Ridge

This hike leads up away from Canmore as you leave the Bow Valley and head into the West Wind Valley. This should no be confused with Wind Pass which is a hike on the Smith Dorrien Highway. The ridge is a gorgeous hike and has tremendous views of the impressive Mount Lougheed. Please respect the closure for wildlife from December 1st to June 15th. The picture above is from Mount Allan looking down onto Wind Ridge.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 775 meters
  • Distance: 13.9 kms
  • Time: 4 – 6 hours

Ha Ling Peak

Ha Ling Peak

Ha Ling Peak is impossible to miss from downtown Canmore and the most popular peak in the area to climb. Nearly every local in town has likely clambered up to its peak and over the years it has grown to be one of the most popular hikes in the Canadian Rockies. Alberta Parks even invested in the trail with an extensive trail overhaul in 2019, that added steps and handrails.

While Ha Ling peak may look daunting from Canmore the hike up the backside is not much more than a physical challenge. The peak is likely the most popular in Canmore which may detract some, but if you’re not comfortable in a wilderness setting on your own there is some assurance in numbers. Views from Ha Ling are tremendous too as you receive some wonderful views down the Goat Valley and Spray Valley.

Ha Ling Peak
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: 790 meters
  • Distance: 7.9 kms
  • Time: 1:30 – 4 hrs

East End of Rundle

East End of Rundle

East End of Rundle hike is easily one of the most popular hikes near Canmore. It’s also the best effort to reward in all of the regions with breathtaking views of Spray Valley and Ha Ling Peak. Given it’s proximity to downtown Canmore, and relative ease it sees heavy foot traffic. It’s a beautiful hike up that provides visitors with astonishing views over Canmore, the Bow Valley, and Ha Ling Peak.

Although, just because East End of Rundle (or EEOR, or “Eeyore” as locals like to call it) is close to town doesn’t mean it’s an easy climb up to the summit. There is a real physical challenge involved and only a fraction of hikers make it to the true summit since it involves some easy scrambling up a cliff band a few meters from the summit.

  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation: 877 meters
  • Distance: 5.6 kms
  • Time: 1:30 – 6 hrs

Grotto Mountain

Grotto Mountain may look unassuming, but the route up the peak packs a bit of a punch with a few technicalities and lots of elevation gain. A scramble up to the peak is sure to offer some impressive views over Canmore and out to the parries. Those who choose to tackle this peak should come prepared for lots of scree and some hands-on scrambling. That being said, it’s an easy scramble and many competent hikers should be able to tackle the objective.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation: 1,352 meters
  • Distance: 8.9 kms
  • Time: 2:30 – 7 hrs

Middle Sister

Hikers and scramblers can climb either the Big or Middle Sister of the famous Three Sister Peaks. The Middle Sister route is the only one accessible from Canmore as the Big Sister ascent is from the Smith Dorrien Highway. It’s likely the most difficult scramble I feel comfortable recommending on this list as it borders on a hike similar to Grotto Mountain.

To reach the peak you begin your journey at the end of Three Sisters Mountain Village and ascend the via the Stewart Creek which means lots of river rocks. After following the creek for several kilometers the elevation really starts to add up with a big scree bash up to the summit.

  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation: 1,521 meters
  • Distance: 17.1 kms
  • Time: 3:30 – 8 hrs

Advice on Hikes in the Canadian Rockies

If this is your first time hiking in the Rockies take a conservative approach. Pick an adequate hike for your fitness, plan for plenty of time, pack water and food, and don’t be afraid to turn around. If you want to learn more about what to wear hiking we have a great post. We also have an excellent post on tips for new hikers.

For long hikes, set a turn around time at the departure. Any time we set out for an objective I determine a time at which we need to turn around in order to arrive at the parking lot or campsite by dark. I would recommend not hiking in the dark as it’s easy to get lost and it’s not fun in bear country.

On that note, always carry bear spray if you plan to hike in the park. We carry ours in the neighborhood and bears have been known to stroll through town and busy parking lots. Always practice wildlife awareness when you’re on a trail, and please give animals space.

In regards to times keep in mind your mountain fitness — different than the gym. The low end of the times in this post is a constant fast pace uphill with little to no breaks and a brisk pace downhill. Most hikers should plan for a middle of the road time with the estimated duration.

It’s also super important to know that there are limitations and to come prepared. These are very serious mountains and it easy to get in well over your head with life-threatening consequences.

Lastly, a GPS tracker could save your life – it’s one of those backpacking essentials I like to have on me just in case I need to hit SOS. Alltrails is our favorite app to have on a hike. It shows the correct trail way, elevation, and other hiker reviews. We paid the subscription fee so that we could download all the data we need to our phones. Best $2.50 (per month) ever spent!


What to Wear On a Hike?

The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone that has spent time in wilderness or mountains can speak to the fact your temperature can fluctuate a lot on a hike. You can easily start off cool at the base of the mountain and get hot as soon as you begin moving.

The goal of hiking clothing is to help regulate your body temperature, element protection, and moisture management. Temperature management is best done through a layering system if you want to learn more about what to pack for a day hike or what to wear on a hike, you can see our full post! 

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