It is no secret that I enjoy escaping the city to go hiking, which makes sense since I’m blessed to live near the Rocky Mountains. Hiking is probably one of my favorite summer activities, nothing beats spending a day in the fresh air, hiking to a spectacular view only to enjoy lunch and cold beer. I remember how intimidated I was my first hike; I didn’t know where to start or really what all I needed to carry with me. Like anything hiking is one of those things that gets easier with time and experience. The more you do and the more people you talk to the more tips and tricks you’ll pick up along the way. Living in Calgary we have a lot of trail options that it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to do. I tend to go off recommendations from other hiking enthusiasts, or check Trail Peak. I decided to put together a small list of hikes I’ve done to get you started.
Grassi Lakes – This hike is beautiful! It is family friendly and good for all fitness levels. We wandered off the path a little bit so we could get closer to the waterfall which was worth it. On a nice day, you will probably see some rock climbers.
Directions: From downtown Canmore. Take the route to the Nordic Center and follow the signs to the Grassi Lake parking lot where you will meet up directly with the trail head
Heart Mountain – I tried this one for the first time this past weekend. There are a couple variations to this hike. Heart Creek Trail; which a super easy family friendly hike good for all fitness levels. As you enter the trail head you’ll walk until you come to a sign then make a right towards Heart Creek Trail. The trail ends at a small waterfall where you can sit and relax. This trail is busy. We made it to the waterfall in no time and realized we went the wrong way and back tracked to the sign where the trail splits and went left to Heart Mountain. This one was not for the faint of heart. Lots of loose rock and with a fairly difficult scramble. Overall it was a great workout with a good view, so I’d do it again especially since it’s so close to Calgary.
Directions: take the Exit 105 for Lac des Arc. From Calgary, take exit 105 then turn left, go over highway, turn on gravel road that leads to parking lot. From Canmore take exit 105 & turn right onto gravel road into parking lot. Now you even have washrooms. It’s recommended NOT to park on the side of the highway as many people have been ticketed.
Ha Ling Peak – This was my very first hike! It has an amazing view, and is definitely worth the effort. It’s pretty steep, and feels like a continuous incline with very little flat spots. The last bit to the summit is a scramble, and is a little scary when you come down as there is a lot of loose shale. Once you make the summit, there are quite a few nooks with outstanding views of Canmore which makes the grind completely worth it.
Directions: Drive to Canmore Alberta. Drive up highway #742, the Smith-Dorrien-Spray Lakes Trail towards the Canmore Nordic Centre. Continue past the turn-off for the Nordic Centre, keeping to the left. Continue on the gravel and park in the Goat Creek Parking Lot
Crypt – My favorite hike to date, it blew my mind and lived up to expectations. We headed to Waterton for a camping weekend with the sole purpose of doing this hike. This hike has everything you could ask for in a hike – several waterfalls, a beautiful lake, cave and scaling a cliff. I am not going to lie I found the cave and scaling the cliff to be a little scary. Doesn’t help that I am terrified of heights, but there was no way I was going to let my fear keep me from reaching Crypt Lake. You access the trail head by taking a ferry, round trip tickets are $20. There are two ferries that run daily. This is a full day hike so be prepared, the day we went was quite warm and we ran out of water on our way down, which is never good. Definitely pack a bathing suit, we didn’t know that you could swim and were surprised to see everyone else seem to have gotten that memo and were jumping in to cool off.
Directions: From Calgary take highway south 2 to Fort MacLeod (183 km/115 mi.). From Fort MacLeod, go West on Highway 3 (50 km/31 mi.). Head south through Pincher Creek on Highway 6 (56 km/35 mi.).
A couple things you should check prior to heading out:
- Weather conditions; you’ll want to make sure you pack plenty of water for warm weather especially if the trail is exposed to a lot of sunlight. Layering your clothes is never a bad idea, the weather can change quickly and you want to be prepared.
- Trail report; it is a good idea to check the trail report for a couple reasons. Post 2012 flood some of the trails are still damaged or being worked on. You’ll also find wildlife warnings and potential trail closures due active wildlife activity in the area (bears & cougars). It’s not a bad idea to pack bear spray.
- What you take up, take down with you. Do not leave your trash!