Grotto Canyon Hike
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.
To get to the Grotto Canyon, head east from Canmore on the Trans-Canada Hwy for roughly 24.5km. Take the Seebe turn-off that takes you to the 1A (this turn-off is 4.0km 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 10.9km and take a right after “Grotto Pond”. Park in the parking lot.
|When to do|
May - October
Out and back
Grotto Canyon Hike
Grotto Canyon Trail Description
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 1.1km, 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 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.
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.
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