Hiking in Canadian Rockies is more popular than hockey. I’m serious! People play hockey, even more people watch hockey but it seems to me that everybody is hiking.
Canada made us hikers, too. I don’t remember the last time I went hiking back home in Slovakia, but here, we went hiking just few weeks ago.
In Calgary, where we live, people call Canadian Rockies their backyard. And they are 80 km away. It is considered they are at your doorstep. So it’s not hard to understand why so many people go to the mountains whenever possible.
Our favourite place for any activity is Canmore, only an hour away from Calgary. Little neighbouring town of Banff, just before Banff national park. Canmore is not on every brochure about Canadian Rockies and therefore feels more authentic than Banff (read: less touristy).
We did these hikes quite some time ago and they remain my favourites. They are almost next to each other..you can choose whichever based on your abilities and mood. Don’t let the lack of signage in Canadian Rockies discourage you from hiking. Just make sure to use google before you head out.
Here are 2 hiking trails for the best views of Canmore and Canadian Rockies:
Ha Ling Peak
- 6 km return ( ̴ 3,5 hours)
- Elevation gain 737 m
- Maximum elevation 2407 m
- Best time to go May – October
- Gear: windproof jacket, running/hiking shoes, water, poles!
Ha Ling Peak is one of the most popular hikes in Canmore. It’s short, steep and there is no chance of getting lost. It is a well-beaten path which gets extremely busy during summer months. We hiked to the top in the middle of May and had snow just below the knee as we approached the peak. This year, it’s without snow in the middle of April. You can contact Tourism Canmore for trail conditions before you go.
Directions to Ha Ling Peak:
Trailhead parking is at the Goat Creek Day Use Area. From the parking lot, head across the road, up the hill and cross the canal. Trailhead starts just behind the wooden building.
It starts easy through the forest on the wide trail with lots of roots. After many switchbacks, when the trees disappear, you get to the final section. It is an easy scramble, the peak is visible in front of you as you make your way up the rocks. This section of the trail is wide open plateau with very strong winds. Therefore is also popular spot for base jumpers.
Interesting fact about Ha Ling Peak:
You might ask why is it called Ha Ling Peak? It’s not an English name and it certainly is not a name given by First nation people.
The peak was name after Ha Ling, a Chinese cook for the Canadian Pacific Railway. There was a bet involved that he cannot climb the mountain in under 10 hours, which he did. Of course nobody believed him, so he led a group up the mountain where he put a big flag, visible from town. In his honour, the peak was named after him.
Mount Lawrence Grassi
- 9,8 km return ( ̴ 6 hours)
- Elevation gain 1022 m
- Maximum elevation 2722 m
- Best time to go May – October
- Gear: windproof jacket, running/hiking shoes, water, hiking poles!
Hiking Mount Lawrence Grassi was challenging and rewarding at the same time. It is a very steep climb, in 3 km you will climb 1000 m elevation gain. This trail wasn’t even on our trail map, which we bought in town. Therefore there is apparently not many people who knows about it. We’ve met two other hikers. If you are in the area, I highly recommend taking advantage of it!
Directions to Mount Lawrence Grassi:
This is a neighbour of Ha Ling Peak. Trailhead parking is the same as for hiking Ha Ling Peak – at the Goat Creek Day Use Area. From the parking lot, head across the road, up the hill and cross the canal. You will pass the starting point for Ha Ling Peak and continue along the canal for another ̴ 2 km until you see a cairn (pile of rocks) on the left. At this point, you will enter the forest where you can see the path.
Follow the trail until you reach a tree line. It will lead to a creek bed – flood washed away a section of the trail. Just keep hiking up until you start clearing the tree line. Last 2 km is wide open with great views of Three Sisters, Rundle, Goat Creek and Ha Ling Peak. You scramble this section on steep rock slabs and gravel.
Make sure you bring poles! If you don’t need them for hiking up, you will need them going down – your knees will thank you.
Interesting fact about Mount Lawrence Grassi:
The mountain is named after Lawrence Grassi. He was an Italian miner who emigrated to Canada in 1912. Lawrence worked for Canadian Pacific Railway, and in the Canmore coal mines afterwards. He became a well-known climbing guide who built many of the trails around Canmore, including Grassi Lakes Trail (which is on the way to the parking lot for hiking Ha Ling Peak and Mount Lawrence Grassi).
In a nutshell:
Do you like hiking? Where is your favourite trail? Let us know if you have any suggestions.
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