Grassi Lakes


Grassi Lakes

Canmore Area

Time: 2 hours

Distance: 4 km (return)

Elevation Gain: 150 m

How To Get There: Trailhead begins on Spray Lakes Road, just 2 kms past the Nordic Centre on the left, down a hill.

Today was the first day I was going to be going on a hike with my mom and it was her first hike ever! I was really excited to get going. I was told that Grassi Lakes was supposed to be a great starter hike and the weather was a bit warmer than it had been all week (about nine degrees), so my mom and I met in Calgary and then headed out to Canmore together! We found the trailhead without a problem (though mom kept insisting I was taking her into the middle of nowhere to kill her), got our gear (mom borrowed Matt's poles) and away we went.

There is an easy way and a hard way with this hike. The easy way goes up an old logging road and is more of a steady climb. The hard way goes up the side of the valley and offers much better views as well as the chance to see a waterfall. We chose to go the hard way. The trail itself wanders up through a lot of pine trees, every now and again offering glimpses of the reservoir below. We were able to stop at a few lookout points where the trees cleared to get a few pictures.

As we got closer to the waterfall (Grassi Lakes Waterfall?), the ground beneath us began to get wet with small trickling streams that were crossing right over our path. When we reached the waterfall, we got more pictures together and then turned our attention to the last 500m of the hike.

This is where it started to get a bit more difficult. There are stone stairs for much of the rest of the way up and it is quite the vertical climb. I was really impressed with how well mom did! Once we reached the top, there was a very nice bridge crossing over the top of the waterfall that was being fed from a small pond that had formed not too far from the actual lakes.

We looped around and then found ourselves at the first lake. It was absolutely beautiful! In the distance you could see people climbing up the mountain wall and there were even some people holding up a Canadian flag.

We walked across another bridge to reach the second lake and it was even more beautiful than the first one. It was turquoise and so clear that you could see right to the bottom in the middle of the lake. The algae around the corners gave it a fluorescent green tinge.

We explored the area for a bit, checking out the small cave that sits behind the second lake and sitting at a bench until we decided it was time to head home (right around this time the sun made an appearance).

We decided to take the easy way back so as not to risk falling down the stairs! Despite mom's insistence that we were going to get eaten by a bear, we made it back to the car safe and sound.


This trail is fantastic for people who aren't used to hiking or even for small kids. I imagine it is also a good hike to do in the winter since the elevation is so minimal, though the stone steps might be a tad slippery. It was incredibly crowded (though it was the long weekend) and I imagine that the best time to do this hike in the summer time would be early morning so you aren't competing with other hikers for a spot on the trail.

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