As I said not so long ago, as trail running destinations go, Canmore is exceptional. The number and variety of trails is truly incredible, all set against the most stunning of backdrops. The trails present all manner of possibilities and challenges depending on what you’re after.
There is, for example, the gentle yet undulating Powerline Trail with its magnificent views of the Three Sisters heading east and Ha Ling and Rundle Mountain to the west.
If you’re after something more challenging, there’s the epic Highline Trail, accessible from the Powerline. A technical trail, the Highline offers intermittent yet stunning views over Canmore and of Ha Ling and the East End of Rundle (EEOR). There are various points at which you can join it but whichever you choose, be prepared for two or so lung-busting kilometres of climbing to get up there and a thrilling, brakes-off descent back down.
If you’re after something more gentle or serene, or something that’s maybe more suited to some speed work or intervals, there are the trails along the banks of the Bow River, the Old Railway Bridge, Policeman’s Creek and the possibility of a fun, root strewn detour along the Larch Island hiking trail.
Outside of the ski season, for short, steep climbs among other challenges there’s the seemingly endless maze of beautiful trails that criss-cross and wind their way through Canmore Nordic Centre provincial park. These provide the testing ground for such races as the Grizzly Ultra, Rundle’s Revenge and two of the Five Peaks Central Alberta trail race series.
And if you really want a challenge, there are the ascents of Ha Ling or the EEOR, for instance, not to mention the Canmore Quad that I briefly touched upon in a previous post and will come back to in a future one. Or, there’s the 14km run to Banff from the Nordic Centre along the Banff and Rundle Riverside trails with the possibility of returning via Goat Creek, thereby circumnavigating Mount Rundle and putting some 40km or so in the bank – perfect for that weekly long run.
My intention in the coming months is to provide more information about these and other routes in the area. Some of the trails I know reasonably well and run them regularly, others less so, and still others I don’t know at all but look forward to getting acquainted, once the snow melts. I hope overtime to build up a detailed and, hopefully, informative picture of the myriad of fantastic trail running routes that exist in the area and give a sense of why a certain run appeals to me.
I’ll also write about some of things that i’ve had to get my head around in recent months as i’ve embraced the trails of Canmore. These include running in sub-zero temperatures the likes of which i’ve never known before; and in an area inhabited by wildlife (another of Canmore’s attractions) that extends beyond the usual cows, dogs and very occasional deer that I was used to in Switzerland.
Of course, if you can’t wait for me to get my act together and want to hit the trails sooner rather than later, there are excellent resources out there that are well worth a look. I particularly like this piece by Jen Lowery and Edward Marran on the Experience the Mountain Parks website, as well as the Bow Valley edition of Bob Walker’s excellent Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies. Walker’s book contains a wealth of routes in and around Canmore and further afield, ranging from easy routes requiring minimal or no navigation to expert “committing routes” with “serious objective dangers”. Some of these will feature in future posts, though maybe not the ones involving serious objective dangers.
Until next time, happy trails.