8 Short And Easy Hikes In Canmore

The Canadian town of Canmore in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains is famed for its magnificent scenery and breathtaking summits.

The town’s mountainous landscape provides 70 km of hiking, running, and cycling trails, making Canmore a hotspot for outdoor sports enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

Canmore is also an ideal hiking spot for those who want to avoid the nearby Banff National Park crowds.

What’s more, Canmore offers routes for hikers of all abilities and fitness levels.

Therefore, if you don’t fancy trekking up a mountain peak and prefer a gentle stroll, you can enjoy many scenic but easy hikes in Canmore. 

So, to help you make the most of the beautiful outdoors of Canada, here are eight short and easy hiking trails in Canmore.

Easy hikes in Canmore

1. Bow River Loop

  • Distance: 2km
  • Duration: 20-25 minutes

This trail is an easy 2km loop around the Bow River, situated outside Canmore’s center.

The gravel track is accessible, flat, and easy to walk, and the route features two pedestrian bridges.

The walk takes a mere 20 minutes in total, making it one of the best short hikes in Canmore.

The first bridge (Rundle Bridge) gives splendid views of the Three Sisters Mountains. The second bridge (Engine Bridge) is also super cool.

It’s a converted railway bridge, and there are some side trails here if you feel like exploring.

Cross over the old railway bridge and turn to walk back along the other side of the river.

There’s plenty of benches along the path, providing opportunities to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Walk from downtown to the bridge on Rundle Drive to access the trailhead, then follow the riverside trail.

Easy hiking trails in Canmore

2. Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

  • Distance: 1km for the main segment
  • Duration: 10-15 minutes

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk is close to Bow River and is another one of the best short hikes in Canmore.

The total length of the trail is 4km. However, you can walk just the main segment of the wooden boardwalk, which is 1km. 

The boardwalk follows alongside Policeman’s Creek, where you will pass ponds and small forested sections.

There’s plenty of wildlife to see and hear, including fish, birds, and sometimes even deer. The trail is peaceful, flat, and suitable for everyone, including children.

You can join the trail at the Big Head Sculpture in Downtown Canmore.

If you decide to extend your walk, follow the boardwalk until you arrive in an open field along the creek, then find the gravel path leading to the forest.

If you continue all the way, you will connect to the Bow River Loop at Engine Bridge. 

3. Larch Islands Interpretive Trail

  • Distance: 3.5km
  • Duration: 45 – 75 minutes

Just above the Bow River Loop, you will find the Larch Islands Interpretive Trail.

It’s an easy 3.5km loop that you can access from the small car park at the end of 15 Street near 11th Avenue.

For here, head towards the river, then turn right onto a paved path. You will then come across a small footbridge, which is the trailhead for Larch Island Interpretive Trail.

I find Larch Islands one of the most peaceful easy hikes in Canmore and is particularly beautiful in the spring and summer when ​​wildflowers and birdlife are abundant.

On the other hand, in the fall, you will witness the rich colors of yellow and orange that the trees here turn. 

The first half of the trail goes alongside the river, with brilliant views of the mountainous backdrop.

The second part goes through a forested area that leads back to the trailhead. 

Easy Canmore hikes

4. Grassi Lakes Trail

  • Distance: 3.8km
  • Duration: 45 – 75 minutes

Grassi Lakes is one of the most popular places to hike in Canmore because of its unique turquoise lake summit.

The two twin lakes sit at an ancient coral reef base, making the water its beautiful clear turquoise color. 

There are two routes from the trailhead that both lead to the lakes and are around the same distance (3.8km return).

The one to the right is the easier of the two, so if you’re after easy hiking in Canmore, stay to the right when you arrive at the starting point!

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This trail follows an old gravel path through the forest with a gradual 250-meter incline to reach the lakes. Therefore, it’s suitable for all fitness and walking abilities. 

The trail on the left side is more problematic as it has an incline that gets steep at one point as you climb through the forest alongside the mountain.

However, the plus side is you are rewarded with incredible views overlooking the town, plus a waterfall. 

You will find the trailhead on Ken Richie Way, approximately 1km past the turnoff for the Nordic Center on Spray Lakes Road. There is a parking lot here on the left. 

5. Grotto Canyon Trail

  • Distance: 4.2km
  • Duration: 1.5 – 2.5 hours

For a truly unique hiking experience, head 13 km east of Canmore to Grotto Canyon.

This 4.2 km hike is suitable for most fitness levels and takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours to complete. 

Grotto Canyon is one of my favorite places to hike in Canmore during the winter, as most of the canyon floor is covered in ice.

Some of the canyon walls along the trail are very narrow, which adds to the adventurous feel.

There is also a tiny off-trail that leads to a waterfall. In the winter, it freezes, turning into a cool ice sculpture.

To access Grotto Canyon Trail, park at the car park. Here the trail begins with the first kilometer leading to the creek and the second kilometer taking you to the cave.

The course is well marked and easy to follow all the way along. 

Note that while this is one of the easy hikes in Canmore, there is a 115m elevation, and at one point, you will need to climb some slick boulders.

It is not physically exhausting or complex, but it may not be the best trail for small children or those with walking difficulties. 

Easy hiking in Canmore

6. Heart Creek Trail

  • Distance: 2.6km return
  • Duration: 1 – 1.5 hours

Heart Creek is another one of the best easy Canmore hikes that you can do in less than 2 hours.

It’s a lovely scenic trail that takes you through the forest, along the creek, and through Heart Canyon.

There is a slight elevation, but it’s not at all strenuous and is suitable for children. 

Heart Creek Trail is also ideal if you want to find a peaceful spot to connect with nature.

It’s pretty popular with rock climbers as there are a few cool climbing walls here, but you generally won’t see too many people along the route. 

The trailhead is about 10 minutes outside of Canmore. Head towards Exshaw on Highway 1, then take the Lac Des Arcs exit and park at the lot on the right.

Early on in the trail, there is a fork where you need to take the right turn. The left turn is the Heart Mountain Horseshoe Loop which is much more challenging. 

7. Benchlands Ridge Trail

  • Distance: 4 km
  • Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

Benchlands Ridge Trail offers an impressive viewpoint without the arduous climb; thus, it is one of the best easy hikes in Canmore.

The route takes you along an uphill path to a ridge overlooking Canmore and the surrounding mountains.

The panorama from here is pretty breathtaking, considering you didn’t have to climb a mountain!

At the summit, there are also some cool hoodoos (tall, thin rock spires) worth checking out.

The trail starts from downtown Canmore, but you can skip the highway part of the trek by parking at either Cougar Creek or the Benchlands Trail Bike Park

Short hikes in Canmore

8. Horseshoe Loop

  • Distance: 5km
  • Duration: 2 – 3 hours

Just south of Benchlands is the Horseshoe Loop, a mostly flat 5km trail.

Although it’s not the shortest trail, it’s still very easy to trek and is a brilliant option for when you want to spend an afternoon hiking in Canmore. 

As the name suggests, this is a route used by horse riders, so expect to see a few horses along the path as well as bikers.

Most of the trail is through the forest, so it’s not the best hike for viewpoints, but it’s peaceful and full of wildlife. 

You will see there are many small off trails along the route. Therefore, to avoid getting lost and making your hike longer, stick to the vast, clear path.

Access this trail via the Cougar Creek Parking lot. From here, follow the creek until you see the sign for Horseshoe Loop.

Final Thoughts

With so many short and easy hikes in Canmore, there’s no excuse not to get out and enjoy the beautiful Alberta landscape.

The only dilemma you have to face is which of these eight easy hiking trails in Canmore you will do first!

If you’re planning to camp during your trip, make sure to check out the best campsites in Alberta!

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