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9 Canmore hikes with great views Travel

The city of Canmore is both the gateway to Banff National Park and an entry point to Kananaskis Land. As a result, there are an incredible number of truly exceptional hikes within an hour’s drive. I tried to present Canmore walks that offer views near the city. Most are around 15 to 20 minutes away by car. The hike to the Sparrowhawk Tarns is the exception.

Many of these Canmore hikes can be done from spring – except for the Year of the virus. In Ha Ling in particular, it can get very crowded in March, depending on the year and snow cover. Always prepare for a change of weather and don’t forget the bear spray.

On some Canmore hikes you often see moose in the city
You can often see moose in Canmore

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If you are planning hikes at the beginning of the season, do not forget that Ice maker. You can make a big difference in staying upright and safe on the mountain.

Heart Mountain – one of the early Canmore hikes

The Heart Mountain hike is a partial hike, but mostly it’s a climbing hike, but it’s not too difficult except for a move described in the blog below.

Its 2.8 kilometers in one direction with a height difference of 745 meters. Just rely on the home route to the summit. It took us a little over four hours back, including lunch time.

The starting point is at the exit of the Lac des Arc, 18 kilometers east of Canmore. Park at Heart Creek Trailhead and follow the detailed instructions in the blog below.

Read: The Heart Mountain hike near Canmore

Canmore hikes - the half-day Heart Mountain hike
Heart Mountain lives up to its name, especially in the snow when the heart becomes obvious
It is steep in places
It is steep at some points on the Heart Mountain hike
    Canmore hikes with beautiful views of the Heart Mountain hike
Nice view of the Heart Mountain hike

Ha Ling Peak

You can see Ha Ling Peak from anywhere in Canmore. It looks impressive and yet there is a great hiking trail to the summit. Its 3.0 kilometers in one direction with a height difference of 737 meters. It’s very steep from the start, but is easily tempered when you’re not in the trees.

The road to Ha Ling Peak was closed for some time, but was reopened in 2019. It is safer than the large number of people who hike it.

The trailhead is easy to find as it is across from Goat Creek car park.

Read: The fantastic hike to the top of Ha Ling Peak

Canmore walks south along the Smith Dorrien Trail
Looking south along the Smith Dorrien Trail
With a view of the Goat Creek Trail in the valley floor, which leads you to Banff
With a view of the Goat Creek Trail in the valley floor, which leads you to Banff
Looking down on Canmore and the Trans-Canada Highway
Looking down on Canmore and the Trans-Canada Highway

Mount Lady MacDonald

If you’re looking for an early season hike in the Canmore region, choose Mount Lady MacDonald. What you get is great training and some exceptional views of the Canmore region.

There is the possibility to drive past the helicopter pad up a steep scree slope to an airy ridge path. I haven’t done that yet, but if you have a fleet of feet and aren’t afraid, you’ll get even more incredible prospects.

In total, it is about 6 kilometers there and back with 610 meters of altitude to the helicopter pad. To get to the summit, its 8.6 kilometers return on an incline of 905 meters.

Read: The Mount Lady MacDonald hike near Canmore

First good view of Canmore from the hike
First good view of Canmore from the hike
The helipad is a great place for lunch
The helipad is a great place for lunch
If you do an early seasonal hike, bring ice cubes with you
Another Canmore hike with great views. However, if you do this at the beginning of the season, bring ice cubes with you

Grassi Lakes – one of the most popular Canmore hikes

One of the most popular trails in the Canmore region is the Grassi Lakes. It is quick to end, as its 4 kilometers return with a height difference of 300 meters. Just pick your times – either early or late in the day if you want to avoid crowds.

There are two paths that lead you to the Grassi Lakes. One is marked as easy and the other as difficult. Choose the difficult option if you’re looking for variety, or better do it as a loop. I would recommend taking the difficult up and the easy down.

The lakes are also a pleasant place to watch the climbers or enjoy a picnic.

Nice views either below or over Grassi Lakes
Nice views either below or over Grassi Lakes
The Grassi lakes are also a great place for a picnic
The Grassi lakes are also a great place for a picnic
Map of the Grassi Lakes Trail
Map of the Grassi Lakes Trail

EEOR (East End by Rundle)

The hike to the EEOR – also called the East End of Rundle – is not for everyone. It’s relentlessly steep climbing – some 875 meters over just 2.9 kilometers. Part of the hike near the cliff band is more climbing than hiking, and not everyone will feel comfortable with it.

But the payoff is an incredible view over Canmore, the Bow Valley and south to the mountains along Smith Dorrien Road.

Wait a few years until the beginning of May for the snow to disappear before doing this hike. You can usually walk through it until October when the snow starts to fly. Take plenty of water and sunscreen in summer.

Note that a small dog was attacked and killed by a cougar on EEOR in October 2019. Therefore, pay attention to your surroundings, especially if you are hiking outside of peak hours.

Read: Test your courage on the EEOR hike near Canmore

The core of the hike is the cliff band in front of us
The core of the hike is the cliff band in front of us
The final approach to the summit
The final approach to the summit
This is a view from Canmore
One of the Canmore hikes that offers a view of superlatives
Back in the trees, but it's still steep
Back in the trees, but it’s still steep

One of the Canmore walks is right in town

If you’re looking for an easy, scenic, family-friendly hike, you don’t even have to leave Canmore. Look for over 20 kilometers of well-marked trails that meander through the forest, meander along the Bow River, and take you over bridges. Many sections offer a really nice view of the mountains.

Sometimes there is a well-placed bench and even a bit of wildlife like the moose I saw while drinking from the Bow River.

City of Canmore Riverside Trail
The path along the Bow River in Canmore
Good signposting along the Canmore trails
Good signposting along the Canmore trails

High Rockies Trail

The 80-kilometer High Rockies Trail is part of the Great Trail, also known as the Trans-Canada Trail. This part of the Great Trail is the westernmost section in Alberta. It is a multi-purpose trail that is said to be shared with mountain bikers and even riders.

There are numerous access points along Smith Dorrien Road to get to the High Rockies Trail. The closest to Canmore is the Goat Creek Trailhead and car park, 3.5 miles from the Canmore Nordic Center, along Highway 742 (a dirt road).

Don’t expect services along the way and be aware of when hiking. Plan a round trip hike unless you’ve arranged an auto shuttle.

Read: Cycling on the High Rockies Trail in Kananaskis Country

Great signage on the High Rockies Trail
Great signage on the High Rockies Trail
Beautiful views of Ha Ling Peak from the High Rockies Trail
Beautiful views of Ha Ling Peak from the High Rockies Trail
One of the really nice sections of the High Rockies Trail
One of the really pretty sections of the High Rockies Trail at Spray Lakes Reservoir

Mount Yamnuska – one of the challenging Canmore hikes

Mount Yamnuska is the first remarkable mountain you see when you drive east from Calgary towards the mountains. Although you are not in Canmore, the starting point is only 25 minutes from the city.

This is a hike that can be quite a challenge for many people and that I would not recommend if you hate exposure or a mess. There are three parts that can be difficult for some – getting through the chimney, lots of rubble, and a short section of chain that isn’t as bad as it sounds.

The 11 km hike increases 900 meters and apart from a few short sections it is nothing more than uphill. Take short gaiters for the descent as there is a lot of scree to deal with. (Note the scree heaps in the photo below where you will descend.)

Read: The demanding Yamnuska hike is full of surprises

Yamnuska is clearly visible from Trans-Canada on the way to Banff National Park
Yamnuska is clearly visible from Trans-Canada on the way to Canmore & Banff National Park
The view of the other side of the chimney
The view of the other side of the chimney
The core of the hike on Mount Yamnuska
The chain section is the core of the hike on Mount Yamnuska

Sparrowhawk Tarns – one of the quieter Canmore hikes

Do this great 13.8km return hike from around the third week of June to mid-August if you want to catch the tarns filled with water. They usually dry out during the summer. The hike is moderate with only 720 vertical meters. The biggest problem is staying on track – everything described in the link in the blog below.

The starting point for the Sparrowhawk Tarns is only 22.5 kilometers from the Canmore Nordic Center. There is a signposted Sparrowhawk Day Use Area on the dusty Smith-Dorrien Road. When it’s full, you can park on the street.

Read: The beautiful Sparrowhawk Tarns hike near Canmore

The first of the Sparrowhawk Tarns
The first of the Sparrowhawk Tarns
Great views of the mountains on the Sparrowhawk Tarn hike
Excellent views of the mountains on the hike
Beautiful scenery on the Sparrowhawk Tarns hike
Beautiful scenery on the Sparrowhawk Tarns hike

Overnight before or after the hike in Canmore

Inexpensive: The Canmore clubhouse The hotel, located 4.5 kilometers outside the city, is operated by the Alpine Club of Canada. It’s only $ 30 a night for members and $ 40 a night for non-members.

Bed & Breakfast: The Howling Wolf B & B. is classified as exceptional.

If you’re looking for accommodation that comes with a fully equipped kitchen, as well as a washer and dryer, this is it Basecamp Resort is a good choice. Enjoy well-appointed rooms with thoughtful details like local coffee and Rocky Mountain soap. The downside in my books is the lack of a personal touch as you get a code for your room so you don’t have to speak to anyone. Each. But maybe that’s just me. The prices are reasonable.

Boutique hotel: The Malcolm Hotel Near downtown Canmore is a 4-star hotel with a heated outdoor pool. It opened in 2019.

If you like a full service hotel with lots of amenities like pools and spas, check it out Solara resort and spa or the Stoneridge Mountain Resort.

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9 Canmore hikes with great views

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