The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

With impressive mountain views, dramatic canyons and ancient pictographs, the Grotto Canyon ice walk is one of the best family-friendly winter hikes near Canmore.

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

This post may contain affiliate links, which Globe Guide receives compensation for with each click or purchase at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Located in the shadow of Grotto Mountain by scenic Bow Valley Provincial Park, the trailhead accesses Grotto Mountain Pond, which is a great picnic spot and also popular for fishing and climbing. It leads to the Grotto Canyon hiking trail, which is only about four kilometres round trip and can be completed in a couple of hours.

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

Grotto Creek Trail

What to pack for the Grotto Canyon hiking trail

With very little incline, Grotto Canyon considered one of the easy hikes in Canmore…that is, as long as you bring your crampons. The ice canyon gets incredibly slick (even more than a skating rink), and is nearly impossible to explore without ice cleats.

It’s also helpful to bring a hiking pole for additional stability, and for testing the ice to avoid accidentally stepping into a pool of freezing water where it might have melted. Wear non-slip, waterproof footwear and plenty of layers, since it can get quite windy in certain parts of the canyon.

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

The Grotto Canyon hike

The out-and-back trail starts with sweeping views of Grotto Creek and the surrounding mountain ranges, before heading into the narrow cavern which was carved out by surging meltwater from a receding glacier thousands of years ago. The steep canyon walls protect a variety of plant life, like limber pine and Douglas maple.

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

Frozen conditions during the winter months create the enchanting ice walk, which twists and turns past limestone walls for about a kilometre before arriving at the set of frozen waterfalls. The spectacle makes it easy to see why this is one of the best Alberta ice caves, and a popular spot with climbers.

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

About 500-1000 years ago, Indigenous people would visit the area in search of guidance from the spirit world, and recorded those visits by painting pictographs on the canyon walls which can still be seen today.

Some hikers choose to turn around at the falls, or you can continue for another few minutes along the trail which opens up into an alpine valley that’s home to the Grotto Canyon cave. Members of the Palliser Expedition named the area in 1858 after discovering the cave tucked into the mountain, which they described as having a large stream leading to a clear pool and green mossy bank.

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

Visitors can make the short climb up the steep scree to explore the inside, or enjoy a picnic among the rocks in the sun-drenched valley before heading back down through Grotto Canyon.

The Grotto Canyon Trail ice walk near Canmore, Alberta

Book an Alberta ice caves or Grotto Canyon tour

 

How to get to the Grotto Canyon icewalk

The Grotto Canyon trail parking lot is just off Bow Valley Trail (Highway 1A) a few minutes west of the hamlet of Exshaw. The drive takes about an hour from Calgary, and just 15 minutes from Canmore.

On weekends during winter, try to arrive before 9 a.m. since there’s limited parking and the lot can get very crowded. There are signs advising not to overflow park on the highway or in the ditch, as vehicles may be ticketed.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

SHARE THE PINSPIRATION! CLICK THE IMAGES TO PIN:

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.