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15 EASY Hikes in Canmore, Alberta

Last updated : November 27th, 2020

A reflection shop of the Three Sisters Mountain Range in Canmore


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There are some seriously epic hikes in Canmore, Alberta that are both easy and can be done in just one day! In fact, some of the best hikes in Canmore take only an hour or so to complete.  

After visiting Canmore on countless occasions and hiking as much as I could, I’ve compiled this detailed list of the best easy hikes in Canmore and the surrounding area. These hikes are some of the best things you can do in Canmore and in my opinion, it’s well worth checking a couple off your to-do list.

Knowing that sometimes people don’ want to drive far to reach a trailhead, I’ve divided this blog into two sections: hikes right in Canmore or less than 5 minutes away, and then hikes that are nearby in either the Kananaskis or Banff National Park. This way, you have a huge range of amazing day hikes to choose from while you’re in Canmore! 

Easy Day Hikes in Canmore, Alberta 

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie with the Three Sisters Mountain Range in the background in Canmore
Us, taking a selfie at the end of the one of the easy hikes in Canmore!

The following 11 hikes are my personal favorite easy hikes in Canmore that can all be done in under a day. They are all located in Canmore township or within a 5-10 minute drive. 

1. Grassi Lakes 

Viewpoint of Grassi Lakes
View of one of the Grassi Lakes.

Distance: 4 kilometer loop or return

Elevation gain: 125 meters

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 2 to 3 hours

Grassi Lakes is without a doubt the most popular hike in Canmore. After hiking the trail twice for myself, it’s not hard to see why. This short trail is easy to accomplish and ends at the stunning Grassi Lakes.  

Grassi Lakes is also one of the easiest hikes in Canmore at only 5 kilometers long (return) with only a 125-meter elevation gain. This means it’s family-friendly and suitable for most fitness levels. When we last hiked the Grassi Lakes trail, there were tons of families on the trail with young kids and dogs. 

Grassi Lakes Trail starts from a large car parking lot just on the outskirts of Canmore. The exact location can be found on Google Maps, but it is also easy to find if you drive Smith Dorrien Spray Trail Road up past the Canmore Nordic Center and turn left onto Ken Richie Way. It’s important to arrive early to secure a parking spot! 

Lawrence Grassi Waterfall on the grassi Lakes Trail
The waterfall along Grassi Lake Trail!

One thing to note is that there are two different trails you can take to reach Grassi Lakes. From the Grassi Lakes parking lot, there is one trail. After walking this trail for a couple of minutes you’ll come to a fork in the trail with a sign. If you stay to the right you’ll take the easier trail, to the left is the “more difficult” trail.

The more difficult trail is flat at the beginning but then takes a steep incline with stairs taking you next to a waterfall. While it is a more challenging trail, it’s worth it for the waterfall! 

For more detailed info, check out our blog all about hiking Grassi Lakes Trail

2. Ha Ling Peak

At the saddle of Ha Ling Peak
Standing at the saddle of Ha Ling Peak!

Distance: 3.9 kilometers one-way to the summit, 7.8 kilometers total return 

Elevation gain: 810 meters 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Time needed: 3-5 hours 

Type of Trail: Out and back 

Just a little further down Smith Dorrien Spray Trail from Grassi Lakes is the Ha Ling Peak trailhead and car parking lot. Although significantly more difficult than Grassi Lakes, Ha Ling Peak offers views of Canmore that are unrivaled and I just had to include on this list of day hikes in Canmore!

Ha Ling Peak is a moderately difficult hike because it is steep. The trail is well maintained and not technical (there are even built-in staircases is some steep sections) but the elevation gain of over 800 meters makes it a challenge. Bring plenty of water, hiking poles, and be ready for a serious workout!

Ha Ling Peak Trail starts off with a series of switchbacks through the forest before breaking the treeline. Here, there are two large sets of stairs to help you reach the saddle. For many, this is as far they go as the views are already amazing.

Looking down on the trail from ha Ling Peak Hike during cold weather
Climbing to the summit of Ha Ling Peak,

But if you came to summit a mountain peak, then keep going to your left to reach the top of Ha Ling Peak. This last portion of the trail is a little more difficult and you’ll need to watch your footing. Don’t attempt it in windy conditions or in snow.

I promise you that on a clear day, the views from the top of Ha Ling Peak are totally worth the effort to get there!

For more information, read our complete blog about hiking Ha Ling Peak!

3. Miners Peak

The view from miners Peak looking over at Ha Ling Peak
The view from Miners Peak looking over at Ha Ling Peak

Distance: 3.1 kilometers one-way to the summit, 7.2 kilometers total return 

Elevation gain: Approximately 700 meters 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Time needed: 3-5 hours 

Type of Trail: Out and back 

An alternative hike to Ha Ling Peak that’s slightly easier, is Miners Peak. This hiking trail starts from the same car parking lot as Ha Ling Peak. In fact, the majority of the trail is actually the same as Ha Ling Peak.

Once you reach the saddle along Ha Ling Peak Trail you can turn left to head up to the more difficult Ha Ling Peak, or choose to go right and summit Miners Peak instead.

Miners Peak is easier to reach than Ha Ling Peak with a more established trail and less elevation gain. If you reach the Ha Ling Trail saddle and are already very tired, Miners Peak could be the better option for you.

The view from Miners Peak is incredible! You’ll see both Canmore town below you in the distance and Ha Ling Peak too.

4. Grotto Canyon 

Grotto Canyon in winter
Grotto Canyon in winter

Distance: 4.2 kilometer return

Elevation gain: Approximately 220 meters

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 1.5-2.5 hours

Located only about 13 kilometers away from Canmore, along Highway 1 A, Grotto Canyon is one of the most unique hikes in the Canmore area. At 4.2 kilometers long, the Grotto Canyon hike is only moderately difficult and easy enough for most fitness levels. In fact, most people only take a couple of hours to complete it.  

Grotto Canyon can only be accessed on foot. While it’s gorgeous at any time of the year, it is especially popular in winter when most of the canyon’s floor is covered by ice and visitors have to rent crampons. To access the trail, find the Grotto Mountain parking lot and walk for one kilometer before you arrive at the creek that is going to twist and stretch for approximately one more kilometer. 

The trail to Grotto Canyon is pretty easy to follow and there are numerous signs along the trail to keep you on the right track.

After you pass the creek, the canyon walls are going to get more narrow and, if you hike in winter, you will see a sheet of ice under your feet. After walking through the canyon, you will get to the junction from which you can access a pretty cool waterfall (since it freezes in winter, it attracts a lot of ice climbers) if you make a right turn.

To your left, you will also spot the falls, and if you look closely, some ancient pictographs. Many hikers miss this spot, so if you have never been to Grotto Canyon and are not sure where to find them, ask someone on a trail or before you start your trip.

In winter, Grotto Canyon is a popular place for ice climbing and ice walking. If you’re visiting Banff in the winter, you can purchase the ice Grotto Canyon Icewalk tour. But if you’re visiting from Canmore, you can still hike Grotto Canyon in the snow without a tour, just be prepared with warm gear and crampons or snowshoes. I enjoyed this canyon in March when it was still covered by the thick layer of snow and ice. 

5. Quarry Lake Loop 

Quarry Lake Loop
Quarry Lake Loop

Distance: 1.1 kilometers 

Elevation gain: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: Less than an hour

Type of Trail: Loop

Quarry Lake Loop is a super popular hike in Canmore among locals. With an off-leash dog park, picnic area, and places to swim it’s no wonder people love this gorgeous spot.

Quarry Lake Loop trail itself is more of a walk rather than a hike and the most challenging part about visiting Quarry Lake is finding parking. At only just over a kilometer long and no elevation gain, this easy trail takes you from the car parking lot around Quarry Lake and back again.

Most people visit Quarry Lake to spend an afternoon as opposed to just walking the trail that is really quick. Bring a picnic and a towel and enjoy the area! The lake also offers stunning mountain reflections on calm days making for excellent photo opportunities.

As I mentioned, the hardest part about hiking Quarry Lake Loop is finding parking. During hot summer days, the parking lot frequently fills up leaving. My best advice is to visit first thing in the afternoon or later in the day for sunset. This is when you are most likely able to snag a parking spot!

You can find the Quarry Lake Loop trailhead location on Google Maps and it’s located right in Canmore!

6. Rundle Forest Reservoir Walkway

Rundle Forest Reservoir Walkway
Rundle Forest Reservoir Walkway

Distance: 4.6 kilometers return 

Elevation gain: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 1-2 hours

Type of Trail: Out and back 

Just across the road from the Canmore Nordic Center is Rundle Forest Reservoir. This is a common spot to go kayaking or standup paddleboarding. In the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see groups of people lounging at the water’s edge. But, what many people don’t know is that there is actually a beautiful walking trail here.

From the parking lot, head towards the reservoir and turn left. You’ll see a walking trail that follows the water’s edge. The walking trail goes for just over two kilometers and ends at Smith Dorrien Spray Trail road.

One of the things I like most about this trail is that it is never busy. Since it is such a flat trail, I often visit at sunset with a cup of tea in my to-go cup. I can enjoy the calm water, mountain views, and an easy walking trail without another soul in sight!

7. Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk 

The Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk in Canmore
The Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk in Canmore

Distance: 3.9 kilometers one-way 

Elevation gain: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 1-4 hours depending how far you go

Type of Trail: Out and back 

When it comes to easy hikes in Canmore, Policeman’s Creek takes the cake! First of all, this hike literally runs through the middle of Canmore town so you can likely jump onto it right from your hotel.

Second, it is a boardwalk which means no elevation gain, rocks, mud – just a nice man-made boardwalk. It honestly can’t get easier than this!

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk runs along the edge of Policeman’s Creek smack dab through the middle of Canmore. The entire boardwalk stretches 3.9 kilometers from one end to the other, but most people don’t walk the entire thing.

You can simply access the boardwalk from many intersections and streets in Canmore and go for a wander. To me, it’s a good place to go for a leisurely stroll. Walk as far as you feel and then turn back around. Expect to see mountain views, lots of duck, and maybe even kayakers on the creek.

8. 3 Sisters Viewpoint 

The Milky-way above the Three Sisters taken from Policeman's Creek in Canmore!
This viewpoint is picture perfect!

Distance: Less than 1 kilometer

Elevation gain: 0

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 30 minutes

Type of Trail: Out and back 

This hike isn’t an official trail in Canmore, but I think it should be! This trail has become popular among photographers who visit the area to take pictures of the Three Sisters mountain range.

Dan and I spent an evening here photographing the amazing reelection in the creek and then the milky way as it got dark. The only other people around were, you guessed it, photographers. We love this spot so much we actually include it in our list of the most Instagrammable places in and around Banff.

But I don’t think you need to be a photographer to enjoy this easy trail and incredible viewpoint.

Since this isn’t an official trail, you won’t find signs or maps. However, it is really easy to find yourself if you follow my directions. Park at the off-leash dog park just on the edge of Canmore. From here, cross the highway and go under the bridge for the train. Follow the creek (keeping it your right) and you’ll find a well-trafficked trail into the forest. Hike here for about 5 minutes until you come to a creek.

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you have an incredible view of the Three Sisters in front of the creek. It’s a beautiful spot, and one of the few hikes in Canmore that not many people know about.

9. Heart Creek Trail  

Heart Creek Trail
Heart Creek Trail

Distance: 2.6 kilometers return

Elevation gain: Approximately 100 meters

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 1-2 hours

Type of Trail: Out and back 

Heart Creek Trail is a fairly easy hiking trail located about 10-minutes outside of Canmore at Lac de Arcs exit from Highway 1. This trail takes you through the forest and along the edges of Heart Creek and through Heart Canyon.

Heart Creek Trail is very popular with rock climbers as there are a couple of walls perfect for the sport. However, if you are just looking nice and quiet trail this is a good option too.

To find the trailhead you need to exit Canmore on Highway 1 towards Exshaw. Take the Lac de Arcs exit and immediately go right toward the marked parking lot. From here, take the trail and once you get to the fork in the trail, go right.

If you want more of a challenge then you can go left. This takes you to an entirely different trail called Heart Mountain Horseshoe Loop. I personally love this hike but it is a difficult one that I wouldn’t recommend for beginners. If you want more information on it, you can read our blog about hiking Heart Mountain.

Easy Day Hikes near Canmore, Alberta  

A panoramic photo of Lake Agnes with The Devils Thumb Mountain summit in the background
Lake Agnes!

If you’re up for a little adventure and scenic drive, then you can leave Canmore and check out many other beautiful and easy hiking trails! Although the list of hikes near Canmore is practically endless, I’ve narrowed it down to my absolute favorite hikes below that are also fairly easy.

10. Johnston Canyon 

Johnston Canyon in Banff
Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

Distance: 2.4 or 5 kilometers return (depending on which falls you turn around at)

Elevation gain: 50 meters or 100 meters

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 1-3 hours

Type of Trail: Out and back 

Johnston Canyon is one of the best hikes in Banff National Park and it is located only about a 40-minute drive from Canmore town. This epic hike takes visitors through a gorgeous canyon displaying unique rock formations, waterfalls, and bright blue water!

You have two options when it comes to hiking Johnston Canyon. You can either hike just to the Lower Falls and then turnaround or continue to the Upper Falls. The hike to the Upper Falls adds an extra 2.5 kilometers to your hike. How far you go will depend on how much time you have to spare as both trails are fairly flat and easy.

One of the best things about Johnston Canyon is that it is accessible all year round. In the summer expect rushing water and beautiful waterfalls. But in the winter, expect a frozen winter wonderland. You can even book a guided ice walk here too!

Not only is Johnston Canyon one of the best hikes in Canmore, but it’s also one of the best things to do in Banff National Park and a must-do activity for anyone in the area.

11. Lake Agnes Tea House 

Sitting back and watching time go by at Lake Agnes
The beautiful Lake Agnes!

Distance: 3.6 kilometers (2.2 miles) one way, 7.2 kilometers return

Elevation gain: 400 meters (1312 feet)

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Time needed: 4 to 5 hours

Lake Agnes is absolutely stunning and the hike to get there is definitely worth the extra effort. Sure, this trail isn’t super flat, but it is not technical and is well-maintained. Anybody with a moderate fitness level can complete Lake Agnes Tea House Trail even if they have no hiking experience.

In fact, the last time we hiked to Lake Agnes we saw lots of families with children on the trail.

Lake Agnes Tea House Trail begins with a steady incline through the forest. Eventually, you’ll reach The Beehive which makes for a nice little stop. Shortly after, you’ll come to a waterfall and then Lake Agnes and the tea house.

The tea house actually serves tea, coffee, snacks, and other goods you’d expect at a cafe. Grab a table and enjoy the view with a cup of tea (brewed with glacier lake water of course!)

Lake Agness Trail is known for being very busy. If you don’t want a crowded trail or wait in a huge line at the teahouse, leave early in the morning. This way, it’ll be easy to get a parking space where the trail starts from at Lake Louise.

For more about the trail, check out our complete guide to hiking to Lake Agnes!

12. Ptarmigan Cirque 

Ptarmigan Cirque

Distance: 4.2 kilometers return

Elevation gain: Approximately 220 meters

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Time needed: 1.5-2.5 hours

Type of Trail: Loop

I haven’t had a chance to personally hike Ptarmigan Cirque yet, but I’ve heard great things! Pete from Road Trip Alberta has hiked the trail a few times though, and so he contributed the following information for us.

My wife and I first hiked the Ptarmigan Cirque in Kananaskis this last summer and quickly recommended it to many friends. While it’s a relatively short trek – only 4.2km – it begins at a high elevation (2300m) and starts off with a moderately steep incline. But once we cleared the treeline and caught our breath, we were wowed by the variety of mountain views and were instantly glad we made the effort. 

After the initial climb, the path flattened out and we quickly found ourselves in an alpine meadow surrounded by a wall of mountains. The path leads through rocky terrain and up to a waterfall before looping back the other side and returning to the treeline.

The reason we (and many others) love it the Ptarmigan Cirque is because of the variety of views it provides in such a short distance, and also because it’s a hike that can be enjoyed during all seasons. In spring, the full bloom of mountain flowers offers a beautiful colorful palate. And in fall, the yellow larches will be on a stunning display. Winter typically comes early in the region due to the high elevation, so be prepared with snow gear and warm clothes.

The hike isn’t accessible from December thru May as the road through the Highwood Pass is closed. If you do plan on hiking the Ptarmigan Cirque plan do it on a weekday to avoid the large crowds, and it’s always recommended to arrive early as the parking lot fills up fast.

From Canmore, you can reach the Ptarmigan Cirque trailhead in about an hour’s drive. The drive itself is very scenic and makes for a fun little day trip!

13. Moraine Lake Rockpile 

Reflective views at Lake Moraine near Banff at sunrise
Views of Moraine Lake from the Rockpile.

Distance: 0.8 kilometers return

Elevation gain: Approximately 40 meters

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 30 minutes

Type of Trail: Loop

Just over an hour’s drive from Canmore is the famous Moraine Lake. This lake is nothing short of stunning and one place you should absolutely visit when you’re in this part of the Canadian Rockies.

My personal favorite viewpoint at Moraine Lake is the one at the Rockpile. It is a very short trail that takes you a series of stairs to the top of, you guessed it, a rockpile! From here, you’ll get the most epic view of Moraine Lake and Ten Peaks as her backdrop. It’s absolutely stunning and a must-do for anyone visiting the Lake Louise area.

Although this is a very easy hike, the challenge is being able to find parking at Moraine Lake. Your best chance of getting parking is to arrive around 5 pm, otherwise consider parking at Lake Louise and taking the shuttle.  

Related Read: Visiting the Rockpile is one of the best things to do at Moraine Lake!

14. Larch Valley Trail 

A lady in all her hiking gear on the Larch Valley Trail
The Larch Valley!

Distance: 8.6 kilometers return

Elevation gain: 535 meters

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Time needed: 5 – 6 hours

Type of Trail: Out and back

The Larch Valley Trail also starts from Moraine Lake and is well worth the drive from Canmore. It is much longer than the Rockpile hike but also worth the extra effort. If you take your time in the beginning when it is steepest, you’ll find the Larch Valley Trail to be fairly easy as well!

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Banff National Park in autumn then the Larch Valley is a must-do. During this time of year, the leaves all change color makes it that much more beautiful.

The first part of the Larch Valley Trail is a bunch of switchbacks as you climb through the forest. Although tiring, the trail is well maintained and not technical by any means. Once you make it to the valley, the track flattens out mostly until Minnestimma Lakes. From here, you can continue on and climb up to Sentential Pass, but that is much more difficult and technical.

The Larch Valley is one of my absolute favorite hikes in Canada, and definitely one of the best hikes near Canmore. Check it out for yourself and you’ll know exactly what I mean!

Related Read: Read our complete guide to hiking the Larch Valley Trail for all the information and details you should know before you go!

15. Consolation Lakes 

A lady stands on a rock at Consolation Lakes in Banff National Park
Checking out the first lake on Consolation Lakes Trail.

Distance: 5.8 kilometers return

Elevation gain: 65 meters

Difficulty: Easy

Time needed: 2-3 hours

Type of trail: Out and back

Last but certainly not least is another trail that starts from Moraine Lake about an hour from Canmore. Consolation Lakes Trail is probably the least popular trail in the area which is surprising to me because it’s beautiful!

This relatively flat trail takes you from the Rockpile through the forest to two beautiful lakes. Because the trail is not very popular, it is much less crowded than the other trails in the area making for a peaceful hike.

Although the trail is easy, at the end you will have to scramble over some rocks to actually make it to the lake’s edge. This part is a little more challenging but can be skipped as long as you’re satisfied not going all the way to the second lake.

Related read: If you’re visiting the area for only a couple of days, check out our 3-days in Banff blog for a complete itinerary!

Before you go…

Bailey and daniel from Destinationlesstravel standing on the first viewpoint on the trail to Ha Ling Peak, Canmore
Thanks for reading!

And there you have, 15 easy hikes in Canmore, Alberta that practically anybody can accomplish. Of course, some of these hikes are more challenging than others, but I wrote this blog in hopes I’ve recommended a hike for everyone.

If you liked this blog, be sure to read the rest of our Canada blogs are a couple of related blogs below:

How to Visit Banff in Christmas

BEST Stops on the Icefields Parkway

30 EPIC Things to do in Jasper

Enjoy your hikes!

-Bailey

About the Author - destinationlesstravel

We are Dan and Bailey, just your typical thrill-seeking travelers! You will likely find us hiking, scuba diving, catching public transport, or just drinking beer at a hostel.

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