Grab your microspikes, and let’s hike for amazing emerald lakes, icefalls, and Canmore’s views.

Hiking in cold temperatures through fluffy snow is wonderful and a very different experience from summer.

You (probably) won’t meet any bears or see wildflowers, but you’ll see emerald-coloured lakes, frozen waterfalls and a winter wonderland that will leave you in awe!

All hikes are family-friendly and range from walks to a bit of a challenge. You can also grab snowshoes or cross-country skis and complete most of these with another winter gear.

Canmore in winter

Let me show you the best winter hikes in Canmore, along with tips on how to enjoy your day to the fullest.

TIP
For more activities, read our post 20 fun outdoor things to do in Canmore.

Our favourite winter hikes in the Canadian Rockies:

8 best winter hikes in Canmore

1. Grassi Lakes

  • Distance: 4 km roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 220 m
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Best time to go: year-round
  • Where to start: Grassi Lakes Trailhead (above Canmore Nordic Centre)
  • Read the full blog post: Grassi Lakes Hike

Grassi Lakes Hike in winter

Considered to be one of the easiest and most beautiful winter hikes in Canmore, the Grassi Lakes hike is suitable for all levels. You can choose the Easy trail, a wide dirt path, great for kids and families with strollers.

A difficult path takes you along a waterfall, some rocky stairs, and a bird’ eye view of Canmore. The trail tends to be often closed due to hazardous icy conditions.  Always check trail report before heading out.

Grassi Lakes Hike in winter

Even though the parking lot tends to be full in the morning during summer days, you will most likely be alone on the trail in winter.

Once you reach the Lower Grassi Lake, continue further up to the Upper Grassi Lake, the astounding emerald colour won’t disappoint.

Grassi Lakes Hike in winter

2. Grotto Canyon

  • Distance: 4 km roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 100 m
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Best time to go: year-round but November to March for ice walk and icefalls
  • Where to start: Grotto Canyon Trail parking lot (or a better starting point mentioned in the linked post below)
  • Read the full blog post: Grotto Canyon ice walk

Grotto Canyon Ice Walk in Canmore

Grotto Canyon is especially popular in winter. After a short walk through the trees and over boulders, you’ll arrive at the frozen creek bed. Make sure to wear microspikes as it is extremely slippery.

Grotto Canyon Ice Walk in Canmore

Walking in the canyon on the frozen trail already feels magical but wait until you arrive at the end. It’s where two impressive icefalls welcome you.

Check out the trail report before going and dress warm; the canyon is very cold.

Grotto Canyon Ice Walk in Canmore

3. Bow River Loop

  • Distance: 2 km
  • Elevation gain: none
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Best time to go: year-round
  • Where to start: Riverside Park

Bow River Loop is a classic walk with fantastic panoramic mountain views. Due to no elevation gain, it’s a great family place and popular for biking and running.

Bow River Trail in Canmore

We like to park by Riverside Park on the River Road and start upstream towards Canmore Engine Bridge. Follow the pathway along the Bow River and enjoy the serene landscape.

Once you come back to Riverside Park, take out your snacks or lunch and enjoy the sun at picnic tables.

4. Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

  • Distance: 4 km
  • Elevation gain: no elevation
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Best time to go: year-round
  • Where to start: 8 Street by the Big Head Sculpture

You can either start beside the sculpture on a dirt trail through the forest and along the ponds. Or you can start across the road from on a wooden boardwalk, which is about 600 m long.

Policeman's Creek, Canmore

I especially like the reflection of the mountains and trees in the creek and the ducks swimming around.

If you’re looking to take the iconic photo of Three Sisters, it’s a little bit further and not on this trail. You can park at this spot, or across the road where the path under the bridge and the creek bed leads to the famous photography spot.

5. Three Sisters Pathway

  • Distance: 6,7 km one-way
  • Elevation gain: 35 m
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Best time to go: year-round
  • Where to start: Boat launch parking lot

Winter Hikes in Canmore - Three Sisters Pathway

Another scenic walk along the Bow River is the Three Sisters Pathway, which starts at the bridge on Bridge Road and leads to Three Sisters mountain village.

Head downstream through a forest and a big meadow. You will also pass an old mining site. Because it’s a mix of gravel and a paved path, it’s a favourite for bikers, runners and families year-round.

Winter Hikes in Canmore - Three Sisters Pathway

6. Ha Ling Peak

Ha Ling Peak Hike Ha Ling Peak is one of the most beautiful and rewarding hikes in the Rockies. Due to its great effort to view ratio, the trail is busy year-round (but in summer especially).

The trail has been recently rebuilt and improved because of the high traffic, including some chains and wooden stairs. Check the trail conditions before you go.

Ha Ling Peak Hike

The first part, 3,5 km to the saddle, is maintained and offers a fantastic view of Canmore and Bow Valley. The last 0,4 km to the summit of Ha Ling Peak is on loose rocks.

7. Troll Falls

Troll Falls in the Kananaskis Country are located along highway 40/Kananaskis Trail, 40 minutes from Canmore and 70 minutes from Calgary.

It’s a very popular hike year-round and most beautiful in winter. The trail leading to the falls has recently gone through construction where handrails, staircases, and barricades were added. Check trail conditions before you go.

The rock wall with icefalls is very impressive in winter, and due to the easy trail, a great family-friendly hike.

8. Chester Lake

  • Distance: 4,6 km one-way
  • Elevation gain: 300 m
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Best time to go: year-round
  • Where to start: Chester Lake trailhead

Winter Hikes in Canmore - Chester Lake in winter

A gradually inclining trail through the forest and opening up in a meadow leads to Chester Lake under Mount Chester. It’s a winter favourite in the Kananaskis Country.

Winter Hikes in Canmore - Chester Lake in winter

You might hike in winter boots, but I’ve seen most people using either snowshoes or cross-country skis. Visiting in December, we had our cross-country skis. It would be quite a dreadful return, but the skis and subsequent falls made it more fun.

Check trail conditions before you head out, and prepare to run into several groups of people as this is a popular snowshoeing spot.

Winter Hikes in Canmore - Chester Lake in winter

Winter hiking tips

  • Always check the weather forecast and trail conditions
  • Microspikes and hand warmers come in handy during winter
  • If you’d like to see our recommendation, check out our packing list for all seasons
  • Wear sunscreen and sunglasses; the sun reflecting on the snow is harsh for the skin and eyes
  • Stay hydrated and bring your thermos
  • Bring your favourite snacks (I bring more than I think I need)
  • Have your phone or camera on you to prevent the battery from dying

Bundle up and have fun!

 

About Maya Steiningerova

Heyo, I’m Maya! An adventure athlete currently living near the Canadian Rockies with my partner in crime Michal. I love running in the mountains, jumping in the ice cold lakes, mountain biking and trying not so common activities, such as mountaineering. By showing that an ordinary person can live an extraordinary life, my hope is to inspire you to live an adventurous life and provide you with tips and tools for your own adventure.