The Grassi Lakes Hike in Kananaskis, Alberta
Starting near the Canmore Nordic Centre, the hiking trail to Grassi Lakes is a popular one in the Kananaskis area. It's been a number of years since I did the hike, and longer since I did the more difficult section, so getting out there this year was nice. A quick note to those doing this hike, This trail can get incredibly busy on the weekends and in the summer, so doing it during the week is a good idea.
Once you start hiking on the trail, after a few hundred meters or so you'll come to a fork in the path. Right will take you up what is deemed the "easy" trail, and left will take you up the "more difficult" trail. What's the difference between the two? The easy trail is a gradual incline all the way to the lakes with very limited views of the mountain since you're always in the forest. The section labeled more difficult has a section that is basically stairs made of rock in the ground, thus being more steep, and you also gets views of the valley and waterfalls. The more difficult trail I actually found easier, simply because the trail is mostly flat until the last section which is steep but manageable. Also the easy trail is stroller friendly, so that's a huge plus for those with small children.
The fork in the trail where you head right for the easy section or left for the more difficult section.
Taking the more difficult section, you'll initially meander through the forest and like I stated above the trail stays mostly level for the time being. At a certain point though it will begin to climb, although not at a rate that's too hard for the inexperienced hiker. Depending on the time of year, at some areas water will be flowing over the trail down the hill. It's kind of a cool part where you have to kind of watch your footing depending on if your hiking shoes are waterproof or not.
My Jesse walking around the flowing water on the trail coming down the hill.
Views of the Bow Valley and Canmore will begin to open up now, and these views for me make doing the more difficult part of the trail worth it. As you'll see below, the views you'll get are quite stunning.
Views of the Bow Valley in Canmore.
Walk a little further up the trail and you'll be treated to a large cascading waterfall, the water of which is flowing from the Grassi Lakes themselves.
The waterfall you'll see as you round the bend towards the steepest part of the trail.
The trail gets to it's steepest and most difficult at this point once you pass the first time you see the waterfall. Most of the difficulty comes from climbing the rocks that have been arranged to be stairs. Luckily there's also some railings in certain parts to make the climb easier. Overall the trail isn't hard though, but it'll get your blood flowing a bit from the fast ascent.
The rock stairs you'll climb when ascending.
My friend Jesse on the last push to the lakes.
Eventually you will reach the top, and you'll be very near to the top of the waterfall as well. There are signs around there warning off steep cliff drops, so obey the signs and make sure you always know where you are stepping. Don't risk your life for a picture. A bridge goes over the water flowing to the waterfall, and once you're past it you're almost at the lakes.
The bridge going across the water near the top of the waterfall. Make sure to obey the signs here warning of steep cliff edges just like my friend Jesse is and stay a safe distance back.
A couple hundred meters from the bridge is all that remains to the Grassi Lakes. They are quite a beautiful sight to behold, as the waters in them appears turquoise/green most days.
Views of the brilliantly coloured Grassi Lakes.
Sometimes there will be rock climbers climbing the huge rock face at the far end of the last lake, and that's quite cool to see. If you brought lunch, find a quiet spot or bench to sit at and take in the views while you eat. I've found you can get the some of the best views by the rock wall looking down at the lakes, as seen below.
It's hard to beat these views! I like doing this hike in the spring because the snow really helps highlight the colour of the water!
After finishing up at the lake, you can head back the way you came or opt to make the trail into a loop and take a different way down. I took the easy trail down since it was more gradual, and that was fine although the views weren't as good.
As you can see, the views aren't good on the easy section of the trail.
Eventually you'll arrive back at the parking lot, completing your adventure to Grassi Lakes. I really like this hike because really anyone can do it, like young kids and even mothers pushing strollers. It's a great hike that offers a bit of everything in the form of the views of the Bow Valley, the waterfall, and the Grassi Lakes themselves. I can't recommend doing this hike enough if you've never done it, but keep in mind that it can be quite busy. Doing the hike during the week is a good plan.
I hope you liked reading about my experience on the Grassi Lakes trail, look out for more hiking guides coming soon!
Enjoyed the Grassi Lakes Hiking Guide? Check out the video of my recent time there by clicking HERE!