Grotto Canyon Hike

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
1-1.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
4.4 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
115 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.3
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panorama of the Grotto Canyon hike in Canmore, the Canadian Rockies

The Grotto Canyon hike is a local favourite. Expect to see families and rock climbers as they hike along the pretty Grotto Canyon near Canmore.

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Route Description for Grotto Canyon Hike

To start the Grotto Canyon hike, exit the Grotto Creek parking lot past the Grotto Creek Trail sign, and begin the hike on a path that roughly parallels the 1A highway.

Follow this trail for roughly 1.1 km, before you reach Grotto Creek, where you have some nice views. Head right (north) at Grotto Creek.

This is a somewhat challenging hike up Grotto Canyon, with several slick boulders that are especially difficult for young children. However, it is also a lot of fun, especially for older children, as the views change with every turn and the atmospheric canyon provides an immensely satisfying hike.

As you head up the canyon you will often see rock climbers scaling the walls of the gorge. As you ascend further into the canyon, the Grotto Canyon hike crosses and re-crosses the small stream. This is a wonderful spot for a paddle on a hot day, and kids will love jumping over the stream.

Eventually you come to a rock-face, with a waterfall on your right. This is a great place to stop and people-watch and have a snack. Hiking up the side of the waterfall is quite slick, and while some people do it, we prefer to watch them go!

Return the way you came.

Hiking Trail Highlights

Grotto Canyon

Grotto Canyon is located just a short distance from the town of Canmore and can only be accessed on foot. This beautiful, narrow-walled creek bed provides the route for a satisfying and accessible hike, offering plenty of fun for the whole family. As you ascend the canyon the limestone walls get steeper and narrower, leading eventually to a beautiful cascade, spilling down over the rock face and glistening in the summer sun.

Just before the falls, if you look at eye level to the left, you should be able to see the remains of ancient wall paintings, dating back between 500 and 1300 years ago. These are Hopi pictographs, produced by visitors from a native American tribe based in what is now Arizona. Their full native name is Hopitu, meaning ‘peaceful people’. The images on the walls of Grotto Canyon represent animals and humans, including an iconic flute player, the symbol of the tribe.

Grotto Canyon makes for a wonderful hike in summer, but it’s also a good option for a winter hike. when the stream and falls freeze over, creating a sparkling white winter playground. If you’re visiting in winter, join a guided ice walk and see another side of this beautiful canyon.

Looking for more amazing hikes near Canmore? Check out the Grassi Lakes hike, Mount Yamnuska hike or the Ha Ling Peak hike.

Insider Hints for Grotto Canyon Hike

  • The Grotto Canyon hike is a popular family-friendly hike, but with some slick bits getting over some rocks in places.
  • The Grotto Canyon hike can be done in winter if you have appropriate gear and training.
  • There are some picnic tables overlooking the pond at the parking lot. This is a great place for a picnic.

Getting to the Grotto Canyon Hike Trailhead

To get to the Grotto Canyon, head east from Canmore on the Trans-Canada Hwy for roughly 24.5 km. Take the Seebe turn-off that takes you to the 1A (this turn-off is 4.0 km before the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino). When you come to a T-junction with the 1A highway, turn left and follow this road for 10.9 km and take a right after “Grotto Pond”. Park in the parking lot.

Route Information

  • When to do

    May - October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    At trailhead

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Poor

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Grotto Canyon Hike Elevation Graph

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Grotto Canyon Hike Reviews

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