- See more at: http://www.jetseotools.com/free-meta-tag-generator/output#sthash.UfVEJ6sq.dpuf Grotto Canyon Hike - Knitting is the new Nintendo

Grotto Canyon Hike

What do you do when you get an extra day off work for a long weekend? That's a rhetorical question. Go hiking of course! This time I recruited a handful of friends to come with and we had a blast. No rainy drizzle would get us down! Grotto Canyon turned out to be the perfect overcast day trail and in answer to a quick prayer, we still got some warm sun mid afternoon :)
Grotto Canyon
Difficulty: easy
Round trip: 4km to 7km
Hiking Time: 2-3 hrs
Elevation Gain: 100m to 235m
FitBit: approx 9,000 steps and 58 floors

The trailhead is nice and close to Canmore so this one makes for a great short day trip from the city. Driving west on Highway 1 take the Highway 1A exit for Canmore, go left/east onto Bow Valley Trail (Hwy 1A) at the stop sign. Reset your odometer to 0. When you get to 9.8km turn left into the Grotto Pond picnic area parking lot. The trail is marked with a sign on the west side of the lot.
From Calgary - click for directions on Google Maps
The initial trail is easy going and whenever it appears to fork just look for the directional signs. You'll hear the hum of the Baymag plant to your left, but once into the canyon that noise will fade. You'll pass through a small makeshift parking lot (another option I suppose, but with no facilities) and at about 1km you'll come to a small ridge with a bench which offers a nice view of the Bow Valley. 
From here you can see the mouth of the canyon slightly below, that's where you want to go. The hiker sign that indicates a path ascending into the trees slightly, ignore it! Then just follow beside the creek, it's very shallow and there are plenty of narrow places to traverse when you are required to skip over it. Just be careful of your footing on any wet rocks.
There are several unique factors about this canyon trail. The first is that it is a popular place for climbers. We only spotted one pair, but it's fascinating to watch and try to comprehend how they can climb a surface that appears basically flat with few hand/footholds. So neat! (Even if you don't see any climbers look for the bolts drilled into the rock.)
The other drawing feature of this canyon is the 1000 year old native paintings on one of the canyon walls. You would likely miss it if you aren't aware. It's about 40 min from the trailhead on a rock that juts out from the left. Basically at eye level they are now a faint red. You'll see a few warriors, a canoe, buffalo and more! It's fascinating :)
Just a few minutes past the rock art you'll come to the spot where to to the right in the distance is the slim waterfall that feeds the creek. If you are satisfied with the progress you've made you might choose to turn around here, but the path through the canyon continues to the left for those who desire to see more.
A little ways further the canyon opens up wide and the creekbed is now dry. The terrain is slightly rougher with larger rocks and boulders, but you'll get a nice view in front of you and as you continue, behind as well of some snowy mountain peaks. You'll also pass some hoodoos. Once at approx 3km, 1.5hrs from your start, the views lessen and so there is no real reason to continue.
Though at first it was a bit dreary of a day for us, the sun did come out. We took our time as we meandered, myself quite enjoying taking in all of the things that others in my groups spotted that I might otherwise have missed. In total with a few snack breaks we did the return trip in about 2 hours and 45min. We rounded out our day trip by going into town for some yummy bagels and hot beverages. Not a bad day at all :)
Happy Hiking!



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