The Grassi Lake hike is the perfect hike for friends and families. It’s an easy trail with a wide path that leads through the forest up to two sparkling turquoise lakes. If you’re looking for a good hike in the Canmore/Banff area that is child-friendly this is a great choice.
However, because of its ease and accessibility, you can expect plenty of crowds on the trail, especially on weekends during the summer. Nevertheless, Grassi Lakes is a great hike that everyone should try at least once during their trip to the Canadian Rockies.
Grassi Lakes Hike Guide
- Trailhead: Grassi Lakes Trailhead past the Canmore Nordic Center
- Distance: 4.3 km
- Elevation: 203 meters
- Difficulty: Easy
- Best Time To Hike: Year Round
- Time: 1-4 hours
Grassi Lakes Trail
Grassi Lakes hike is a highlight in the Canmore area as the well-trodden and wide trail is manageable for any skill level of hiker. The two sparkling lakes nestled below Ha Ling Peak and the East End of Rundle (another famed hike— advanced level) are a wonderful sight to be seen by all visitors.
Grassi Lakes are two sparkling teal alpine lakes with two of the areas most famed peaks towering above. The trail is the perfect family-friendly trail just outside of Canmore. On the way up to the two shallow lakes, there are a few viewpoints that offer wonderful panoramic views of the town of Canmore down below.
For the more adventurous and local’s, there are are a number of rock faces popular for rock climbing. Routes are pretty easy to find with a large number of bolts in place.
We needed a break from working around the house so we took the afternoon off and checked off the trail from the list mid-April, and being that it’s so close to home, Grassi Lakes is a trail we venture to often. It’s why this hike is well loved because it’s easy to do late afternoon or a nice start to your day, and can also be done year round.
Grassi Lakes Trail Duration
The hike is a short 2km (4km round trip) jaunt that climbs a slight hill at an elevation of 250m. You should expect to take around two hours for the hike as the lakes are gorgeous and nice to explore for a little while. Although, it could easily be done in an hour.
Grassi Lakes Trailhead
The trailhead begins on Spray Lakes Road around 2kms past the Canmore Nordic Center. You’ll see a small sign that says “No Exit” on the left and gravel parking lot on the right. Drive down the hill to the parking area and sign for the Grassi Lakes Trail. I’ve dropped the GPS coordinates where you need to take a left coming from Canmore.
There are two options for getting to Grassi Lakes. An “easy trail” and a “hard trail” though really, they are both very simple and some of the easiest trails you can find in Canmore and the Canadian Rockies.
When Can You Hike Grassi Lakes?
This is one of the most popular hikes in the area on a nice day so it’s best to get on the trail early or late in the evening that way you have a parking spot and quiet trails in the summer months. In addition, hiking earlier in the day ensures cool temperatures as day time temperatures can get pretty warm.
Seasonally, it’s a go year-round although the lakes do freeze over in the coldest winter months and you may need snowshoes or crampons. However, generally, it’s well-trafficked enough to where the snow is packed down and easy to walk along. A good pair of hiking poles should be more than enough.
The more advanced hike does close in the winter months and should open back up around late April or early May.
How Long Does it Take To Hike to Grassi Lakes?
That all depends on you and your pace and how long you hang around at the lakes. I am a pretty fast paced hiker and can make it up the trailhead in under a half hour.
Meaning a round trip quick hike for outdoor time and cardio could easily take on one hour. However, if you want to take things slower, and enjoy your time at the lakes I would allow for two to three hours to fully enjoy.
How Hard is the Grassi Lakes Hike?
The Grassi Lakes hike is one of the easiest hikes you can do in Canmore and Banff. It’s often suggested to beginners, families, and elderly because it is short, has a slight incline, an elevation gain of 203 meters, and provides amazing views. If you’ve done Tunnel Mountain in Banff, you can expect Grassi Lakes to be easier.
Should You Brings Dogs and Kids to Hike Grassi Lakes?
Absolutely! Grassi Lakes is the ideal setting for young children, older grandparents, and all the pets!
Grassi Lakes Hike Notes
- Grassi Lakes is one of the busiest trails in Canmore. Especially on weekends. Arrive early, or later in the day to avoid the crowds in the summer. During the winter you’ll have no problem spacing out from everyone!
- Be careful of falling rocks. There are many climbing and bouldering routes at Grassi Lakes, so pay attention that you aren’t standing directly under climbers. There are also plenty of mountain goats and sheep in the area always kicking down small rocks. There’s been deaths from people getting hit from overhead rockfall so make sure to always pay attention.
- Stay on the trail! There are signs everywhere asking visitors to stay on the trail to protect the environment, but still we always see lots of people walking off for photos.
Wildlife Awareness On Grassi Lake Trail
If you’re on any hikes in the area you should practice good wildlife awareness. In the region, there are frequent sightings of black bears, grizzly bears, moose, coyotes, and cougars. They all present a threat to humans and we should reduce our impact on their natural lives.
Before any hike or walk in Banff National Park or Kananaskis Country, you should pack bear spray, check the park websites for wildlife information (Parks Canada and AB Park), and then check again for notices at the trailhead.
When you’re on the trail make noise by banging hiking poles, talking, whistling, clapping, or singing. This is particularly important around blind bends and corners, although there aren’t many on the Grassi Lake Trail. It’s also a busy trail so you generally don’t need to make too much noise, but always be bear aware.
Which means staying alert, traveling in a group, minding children and pets, and finally carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it. If you’ve come to the park without bear spray Valhalla Pure Outfitters in town sells spray and holders with employees who will demonstrate how to use properly.
What To Wear on Grassi Lakes Hike
Grassi Lakes is easy and simply enough that you could hike up in anything you want, as it’s much more of a uphill walk than a hike. That being said, you should wear proper footwear and in the winter you’ll need to dress warm!
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. So the goal of 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 ours.
What to Wear On a Hike in the Rockies?
- Down Jacket: A down jacket is an essential in the Rockies. They pack down and fit easily in a backpack. However, despite their lightweight nature, they can offer a lot of warmth which is needed on almost every mountain summit.
- Hiking Pants: Good hiking pants are important in the Rockies as there is a lot of loose scree and rocks that can tear others pants easily. Our favorite hiking pants are the Fjallraven Kebs (Mens and Womens)
- Hiking Leggings: Hiking leggings are great for women in the Rockies. They provide awesome mobility and these ones from Arcteryx aren’t see through and are heavy duty.
- Windbreaker/Rainjacket: An important item to have while hiking is a windbreaker jacket. They come in especially handy on mountain summits when the wind is aboslutely whipping. Arc’teryx Windbreakers are our preferred jackets
- Sunglasses: Proper eye protection is important. Our favorite sunglasses brand is Smith.
- Scrambling Gloves: I don’t go on a hike or scramble in the Rockies witout a pair of rugged clothes to protect my hands. My favorites are from Outdoor Research.
- Trail Runners: Honestly I complete most hikes in trail runners so I can run or jog parts of the trail when I want. My go to trail runners are made by Salomon.
- Hiking Boots: On multi day hikes when I am carrying a large load I turn to proper hiking boots. The Salomon Outline boots are fantastic.
- Wool Socks: Don’t cheap out on your hiking socks. A proper pair of wool socks can make the difference between wet and dry feet.
- Hiking Underwear: The difference between hiking in normal underwear and actual moisture wicking underwear meant for outdoor actitivites is extreme. Yes they are more expensive but they last forever. My favorites are from Patagonia.
- Performance Shirt: The Outdoor Research Echo Series are the best hiking shirts for men and women.
- Hiking Poles: Can save your knees, especially on the descent of some of these steep hikes. Black Diamond is my preferred brand.
- Lightweight Backpack: You’ll need an awesome backpack for carrying all your gear. My favorite hiking backpacks are made by Camelbak.