Home Destinations Hiking Grassi Lakes Trail, Canmore

Hiking Grassi Lakes Trail, Canmore

by Karen Ung

Grassi Lakes is a popular short hike near Canmore with two azure lakes, a waterfall, and ancient pictographs.

2022 Update: Grassi Lakes is closed this year for construction. See Alberta Parks Advisories for details.

Grassi Lakes, Canmore
Grassi Lakes, Canmore

Hiking to Grassi Lakes: Choose Your Route

There are two ways to get to Grassi Lakes: the “easy” way (Grassi Lakes Upper), and the “more difficult” way (Grassi Lakes Interpretive). Look for the marked junction about 100 metres from the trailhead. The Grassi Lakes Upper (easy) trail follows an old dirt road through forest, is sports stroller friendly, and hikeable year-round.

Grassi Lakes, Canmore
Grassi Lakes Upper (Easy) Trail

Grassi Lakes Interpretive (more difficult) is the more scenic route which passes a beautiful waterfall. This trail has stairs and is subject to ice flows, so it is NOT stroller-friendly, and closed in winter conditions. During the summer, you can make a nice loop by taking the difficult trail to the lakes and returning via the easy trail. Why not the other way around? It’s much easier (and safer) to run back down the road than down stairs!

The small, but stunning Grassi Lakes are named for Lawrence Grassi, a coal miner turned master trailbuilder and mountain guide, who was a resident of Canmore. There is a plaque dedicated to Mr. Grassi at the lakes, as well as several benches and natural seating areas (large, flat rocks). As we watch rock climbers on the cliff face, it’s hard to believe they’re climbing a fossil reef formed in the Late Devonian period, 60-419.2 million years ago.

At the far end of the second lake, you can climb the stairs for a bird’s-eye view of the lakes and check out some ancient pictographs. This area is prone to to rockfall, however, so proceed at your own risk.

Allow about two hours to enjoy the natural splendor of Grassi Lakes. We enjoy hiking to Grassi Lakes in all seasons.

Grassi Lakes Upper (Easy) Trail At a Glance

  • Distance: 1.9 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 125 metres
  • Difficulty: Easy. It is all uphill to Grassi Lakes, but the trail isn’t too steep.
  • Directions and parkingGrassi Lakes Parking Lot (click link for Google Maps)
Grassi Lakes, Canmore
Grassi Lakes, Kananaskis

Grassi Lakes Interpretive (More Difficult) Trail at a Glance

NOTE RE SEASONAL CLOSURE: This trail is closed during winter conditions due to dangerous ice flows across the trail.

  • Distance: 1.9 km one way
  • Elevation Gain: 125 metres
  • Difficulty: Easy-to-moderate. Some rocky sections. Little kids may need assistance on the stairs as the steps are pretty high. ***Rocks near the falls are extremely slippery. Caution advised.***
  • Directions and parkingGrassi Lakes Parking Lot (click link for Google Maps)
Waterfall near Grassi Lakes Interpretive Trail, Canmore
Waterfall beside Grassi Lakes Interpretive Trail

Know Before You Go

There is significant risk of rock fall if you continue beyond the second lake, or around the lake (below the cliffs), especially when there are rock climbers on the cliff face, or during periods of melting and freezing.

Parking can be an issue on summer weekends. Arrive early or later in the day to find a parking spot.

Grassi Lakes is a beautiful, year-round, family-friendly hiking destination. For more great short hikes, read our story: The Best Short Hikes in Kananaskis & The Best Short Hikes Near Calgary.

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