Ha Ling, Grassi Lakes and a host of other great trails off limits for 2022

Grassi Lakes PC: Canmore Runner

Yesterday saw the announcement by the Government of Alberta of both good and bad news for runners, bikers and hikers in the Bow Valley.

The good news is that the province is investing more than $4 million to upgrade the Grassi Lakes and Goat Creek day use areas “to address public safety issues and parking congestion while improving visitor experiences.” More specifically, the work will:

  • Expand and formalize the Grassi Lakes main parking lot. 
  • Refurbish portions of the Grassi Lakes trail. 
  • Formalize the Grassi Lakes overflow lot. 
  • Provide a road crossing and trail connection between the overflow and main lots. 
  • Provide separation and washroom facilities between the climber’s lot and the Smith Dorrien Trail. 
  • Expand and formalize Goat Creek main parking lot. 
  • Replace two bridges on Goat Creek trail. 

According to the Government, the work has become necessary due to the significant – 32% – increase in the number of visitors to Kananaskis Country since 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the region welcomed more than 5 million visitors annually. Grassi Lakes and Goat Creek are two popular areas in the region and the increased visitation has increased the pressure on existing facilities and the landscape. 

The downside of this otherwise good news is that Grassi Lakes (Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park), Goat Creek (Spray Valley Provincial Park) and the surrounding area will be closed while construction is ongoing. 

The closure is scheduled to begin on April 1 and is expected to last until the end of the year.

In practical terms that means the following trails will be closed:

  • Grassi Lakes Trail
  • Junkyard Trail 
  • Ha Ling Trail 
  • Miner’s Peak Trail 
  • Goat Creek Trail 
  • East End of Rundle Route 
  • Reclaimer Mountain Bike Trail 
  • Riders of Rohan Mountain Bike Trail 
  • access to High Rockies Trail from Goat Creek 

That’s whole stack of great trails. It also means that two of the four peaks in the Canmore Quad will be off limits for the rest of the year. And without wanting to rub salt in the wounds, I should mention that a third Canmore Quad peak, Lady Mac – which has been open during the winter following a long closure due to the flood mitigation work at Cougar Creek – will close again at the end of March through to the end of the year as the mitigation work resumes. That leaves Grotto which, like Marmite, you either love or hate. Last but not least, Alberta Parks is also closing the mighty Yamnuska from 31 March for at least 5 weeks due to “unfavourable conditions” and “to protect the environment and conserve the landscape”. After that time, the trails and area will be assessed weekly, so further closures could be in the offing.

It’s probably also worth mentioning, in case you were wondering, that Alberta Parks Conservation Officers will apparently enforce the Grassi Lakes/Goat Creek area closure under the Provincial Parks Act.

After reading the Grassi Lakes/Goat Creek closure notice, a bunch of questions came to mind in terms of why such an extensive closure for so long, why not rolling closures depending on where the work is taking place etc., etc., some of which are addressed in this FAQ provided by Alberta Parks.

It’s a blow to lose access to some really great trails, just as the temperatures begin to rise, the snow and ice begin to thaw, and the mind turns to thinking about summer adventures in the valley. But the work has to happen and will, on hopes, be beneficial in the long run. It’s also only temporary and we’re lucky to have no shortage of amazing alternatives. And on a more personal note, it gives me an excuse to put off the Canmore Quad attempt for another year.

Until next time, happy trails.

East End of Rundle: Short, steep, spectacular

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East End of Rundle (left) – Photo: Canmore Runner

Known locally as EEOR, there is nothing gloomy, depressing or otherwise donkey-like about the East End of Rundle. On the contrary, it’s short, steep and spectacular. At an altitude of 2,530m, EEOR looms large over Canmore, along with its fellow Canmore Quad peaks of Ha Ling, Lady Mac and Grotto. The 2.5km trail to the summit (with 899m of elevation) is steep and shaded to begin. But it soon emerges from the trees to reveal spectacular views of the Spray Valley, Ha Ling and – once you’ve scrambled to the summit – Canmore and the Bow Valley. If it’s not on your list of short, steep and spectacular runs, it should be.

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High Rockies Trail 2 – Out-and-Back from Goat Creek

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Backside of East End of Rundle (left) and Ha Ling (right) from the High Rockies Trail  Photo: Canmore Runner

The sun was out, the sky was blue, the temperature was heading up towards 20 degrees and my brain was saying “get ye away from this desk and off to the High Rockies Trail”. So that’s what I did. Continue reading

Rundle Traverse – Not for the Faint Hearted or Those Without Rope

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Mount Rundle, looking west.

I don’t consider myself faint hearted but i’m not sure i’ll be doing the Rundle Traverse anytime soon. Unlike local runner Simon Donato and Ryan Atkins that is, who last week completed the 23km run along the eleven peaks of Mount Rundle, with some 3,100 metres of elevation gain in 10 hours 25 minutes – beating Dow Williams’ FKT by 2.5 hours. Continue reading

The Canmore Quad. Oh. La. La.

Depending on how much you follow trail running, you might have noticed that there’s a lot of talk about “FKTs” or “Fastest Know Times”. As an article last year in Outdoor magazine put it: “A growing number of trail runners are finding a new way to test themselves, and it doesn’t involve race fees, bibs or finish line chutes.” Instead, trail runners are “enlisting their own stopwatch, navigational prowess, and determination to set trail fastest known times. They pick a route, decide whether they’ll receive help in the form of food or aid along the way, and try to cover the distance as fast as possible.”
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Montane Traverse

The Montane Traverse Trail, on the east side of the Bow Valley, is another spectacular run. Starting at the Cougar Creek trailhead, it climbs steadily and steeply in parts in the first 2 kilometres. But after that, the trail stretches out into a rollercoaster of a ride along largely technical single track with tree roots, twists and turns, and the occasional rocky creek bed to navigate. Continue reading

The Powerline-Loki-Highline Whammy

This is the second trail running route post. It’s a variation on the previous one described in Hello Highline, a speedy, undulating and relatively short 6.5km round trip starting and ending at Quarry Lake, just outside of town. The Powerline-Loki-Highline Whammy also starts and ends in Quarry Lake. However, it covers an altogether more challenging 18.5km with 600m plus of elevation.

Update – September 2021 – No access to the Highline from Three Sisters Village

Regrettably, as of September 2021, Three Sisters Mountain Village Ltd are not allowing access across their land from Hubman Landing to the Highline Trail (as described in this post). The Highline Trail remains open and can be run as an out-and-back between the East Connector (at the east end of Wilson Way) and Three Sisters. It just can’t be accessed, or exited, via Hubman Landing. Canmore and Area Mountain Biking Association (CAMBA) are actively working on a solution with TSMV and Alberta Parks to restore access to the Highline. This post will be updated accordingly.  

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