Explore the most popular trails in Bow Flats Natural Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

A decent nature walk that takes you straight through Canmore. Take the full route that takes you along the bow river and then head into town for some lunch and some great local shopping.

we went up the hard way without realising and this was VERY HARD, like climbing a steep, rocky, crumbling staircase for 2.5 hours, including some rock climbing in places which we werent prepared for. We also brought our dog who started freaking out at the steepness and we had to carry him in parts. We gave up two thirds of the way up and went back the way we came as it was getting too treacherous with the dog. would like to give the easy trail a go to get to the top as the views were amazing even from where we got to. Would also NOT reccommend going back down the hard way - very tough on the legs!!!

15 days ago

Went up by the direct route and came back by the ACC.
The entire direct route was for myself. Deep knee high snow in some parts. Summit has a great view and the ridge walk is definitely worth it.
ACC descent didn’t had much to offer except compared to the direct route. Descent was really muddy even with my poles.

22 days ago

Whatever goes up must come down. I stopped my recording in the excitement of finding my camera and had to restart it for the trip down. Pretty sure this route is the best route if anyone is curious. Easy to take the wrong route or other paths that end up nowhere or are much harder( yes that’s possible ) Interesting that the second time around didn’t seem as bad. Be prepared for a steady and unrelenting climb folks. But it’s so worth it. And yes, even twice in one weekend. Keep your camera close, just sayin.

22 days ago

CAMERA FOUND !!! I decided to head out the next day and take my chances. Went as far as the tree line then backtracked. Said a prayer, rounded a corner and there it was ! Praise God ! Another beautiful day on Grotto. My legs are jello.

23 days ago

Incredible hike...except for the camera issue...sigh. Hard in the sense that it’s steep and long but nothing we haven’t experienced before. Incredible ridge walk on top. Well worth the effort.


This hike is decent. Very steep and icy in certain places. Going down ripped open my pants pretty nice on a nice long fall down the steep section. Shock on the knees!

25 days ago

One of my favourite summits to date, we went up the Acc route and came down the direct route(counter clockwise) I personally would recommend that because climbing up the direct route with how steep it was would be very challenging, going down is much easier in my opinion.
Beautiful ridge walk near the top for about a km, snow wasn’t too deep other hat a few areas where it could be up to my knee/waist.

beautiful looking forward to running this once the ice clears

I did this yesterday it was amazing ridge but almost whacked me on the decent little bit of bad advice and error on my part. I took acc up along the ridge and came down via the direct. Do not descend the direct route or go up that route! I almost got hit by a side coming down (nature triggered X3), I got some bad advice and didn’t trust my gut... happy to be alive and got a great learning lesson. The direct route had zero broken trail but has tape so easy to follow, acc was well packed to the top of the tree line. I will do this again in winter but going take the acc back. Ridge was amazing do be careful there are a few Cornices to avoid. I would recommend crampons and ice Axe and a pole. If going in winter make sure you have gear to spend the night!

2 months ago

This trail is a steep and unrelenting upwards climb—this is trail is more of a workout than a pleasant hike (think Grouse Grind x3). Poles and micro-spikes are a must. It took me about three hours to past the timberline and take in the views of the adjacent cliffs/bowl, after which I turned back. Very few people do this trail in the winter, even on the weekends, so I would recommend that any solo winter hiker pack heavy and bring some safety gear like snowpants and a winter jacket in the event of an immobilizing injury. Also, be careful of the time—you don’t want to get stuck out there past dark. Finally, the descent is do-able in 40 minutes if you are skilled as a downhill runner/ boot skiier.

2 months ago

We hiked this today January 26, 2019. We planned to do a counterclockwise loop and khiked up from the steep side. Remember to park next to the road before Apline warning sign otherwise you may get ticket.
After passing first section that is on a gentle slope, it becomes steep. Spike is needed in the one-third before the summit. We also did half of the ridge to come down from the other side that is little bit easier but it was so windy and we turned back to descend from the steep section. In general, be prepare for about 1400 m elevation gain in less than 5 km.
And if you lost your black gaiter in this trail, it is still there, about 20 min before the summit on the trail

Nice walk with beautiful views of mountains.

the direct route is in the trees most of the way and steep. the Northwest is definitely the way to go.

Boardwalk is beautiful. Easy walk.

Pretty steep and lots of scree but what an amazing view from the ridge line!! Now that it's more winter recommend bringing spikes, making sure to stay on trail and walking poles for sure!

December 10, 2018.

Rating: I find All Trails is often rating hikes more difficult than they actually are. This is not the case. This is a hard, steep hike, with a lot of elevation gain. There are some switch backs, but a lot is just straight up on bare or loose rock. (Currently dashed in snow)

Route: We took the Grotto Trail Hard Route up, as suggested by research; but then back down that route as well, as it was too windy to feel comfortable on the traverse. However, we got lost on our way up...and our way down. There are so many trails that branch out, you actually need to be constantly checking. And trust me, when I say don’t “bushwhack”, just go back and find the proper trail. I did find the trials hard to follow, probably due to snow coverage and no human tracks. There is flagging tape, which did help tremendously. Thanks to whoever placed those! But overall, hard to follow. And yes. There are times that you are walking alongside the cliffs, but not to the point that I personally find frightful. You can chose to stay further off the cliff side.

Conditions: Being a south facing hike with constant sunshine, there was minimal snow. But, it is still mid December on a mountain...There were sections that there was deep pockets of snow, (like knee height) but for the most part, easy to avoid. Today it was mostly cloudy with no issues in visibility, however it was insanely windy, to the point we just weren’t comfortable doing to loop.

Gear: Poles and spikes were more hindrance than help today. We did initially have our spikes on, but elected to take them off pretty quick. Poles were mostly just being dragged as it was steep and bare rock for the second 2/3 of the hike up.

Time: Reviews are saying 6-7 hours. I mean, yah, I’m sure that’s doable. However, our slow asses too 6 hours up, 5 hours down. Total of approximately 14km and 20,000 steps as per our Fitbit/Apple watch. Keeping in mind we do some adventuring. We did go off the trail and did go down the wrong trails several times. We did also take several breaks to just enjoy where we were. Hiked from before sunrise to after sunset. But the stars were beautiful.

***All and all, beautiful hike. Definitely would recommend. I will absolutely do it again in hopes to find a day with less wind.***

Fun little walk. Pretty scenery

Holy Smokes!!! If you’re trying to decide whether or not this trail qualifies as “HARD”, I’ll go ahead and confirm your questions! So we went up to Grotto (Oct 6th) right after Canmore saw it’s first snow which made for the poorest visibility when it came to trail markings or any sign of life, human or animal. The ascent was grueling to say the least and there are many questionable areas where following the orange flags (which are few and far between) puts you on the far left side of the cliff, dangerously close to the edge many times. There were a lot of times when we had to cut through the trees and continue on our own path to avoid certain death over the edge. Also prepare to do some scrambling A LOT, there are plenty of steep slopes that contain fine gravel which makes it difficult to find hand grips and proper footing. Once you clear the trees, get ready for a whole new type of climbing. The open wide space is visually rewarding but don’t get too ahead of yourself, there is still a long way to go to reach the summit. As everyone else reviewing has said, there’s only one way and that is up. We made sure to keep our eye on the large radio tower as a landmark with the traverse on our left. We made the mistake of starting this trail too late in the day (10:30 AM) and by the time we got to the top, the sun was beginning to descend behind the mountains and we had to make a big decision. Continue to the peak and take the traverse counterclockwise or turn around and go right back the way we came. Being that we had no proper lighting with us and had already begun to feel the effects of hypothermia, we sadly turned back. Let me add that my fiancé and I are AVID well seasoned hikers and have hiked all over, from Canada to New Zealand and this is the first time that we have ever been beaten by a mountain. The fresh powder snow, no visual trail, and icy conditions had gotten the best of us. It was a very discouraging moment for us but looking back now, I know we made the wisest decision. After the sun had set, we were barely to the tree line at this point. We continued the descent with only the flashlight from our cellphone and ended up finding the dry creek from the beginning of our hike almost 5 hours later. Thoroughly frozen, disheartened and bloody, we arrived back at our car at 11 o’clock at night. All this being said, we will be back to conquer the Grotto again in better conditions. Put this hike on your list for sure, it’s an indescribable sense of accomplishment.

Fun safe early morning walk for those visiting from out of town. I went alone as a female before sunrise and felt safe. I saw a lot of rabbits and some birds we don’t have in Georgia.

Nice elevation. Trail can be sketchy to follow sometimes. Presence of snow in the top and some lower areas. Excellent view from the top.

nice easy walk.

Little icy in spots, ok trail, pretty but not remarkable. Great for a trek thru town without having to walk the main road.

Do this hike under excellent conditions. I slogged up for 2.5 hours and still didn’t reach the summit. I went up intending on doing it counter clockwise but had to turn around and come back the way I went. Visibility was poor so I couldn’t see anything up or down. Snow is now present (Oct 1). Bring a friend and lots of energy, but save it for summertime. I did find the trail quite easy to follow, which was nice.

Do you like wind? Do you like trees? Do you like rocks? If you answered “yes” to at least one of these three questions then the Grotto Mountain Trail might be for you.

Just like the reviewers below, we did this hike in the counterclockwise direction, starting from the bottom and finishing at the bottom- traveling by way of the top.

The way up was quite a “slog” (this was a new term for me- apparently a must know for prospective hiking hardos - please commit to memory before proceeding). Like the previous reviewer we are also super fit, jacked, shredded hikers but we still had to stop on the ascent several times. The trail on the way up isn’t too well marked but it’s easy to tell where you’re supposed to go - up. As long as you stay to the right of the canyon (don’t get too close or risk certain death) you’ll be fine. Loads of green trees and grey rocks to see on the way up!

When we got to the top it was clear that the gods were angry, as the winds of a thousand beer farts were blowing right in our face, making it difficult to stand. A storm was coming in. We decided to have a quick snack and and skrt skrt our way down before the the winds liquid companion sharted down on us.

This is where we went wrong. Instead of following the ridge until a clear path was visible, we decided to follow a goat trail and cut down the mountain earlier than we should have to “save time”. As the goat trail faded into nothingness we realized we had gone the wrong way. I guess the old adage is true - never trust a goat of whomst milf you hath not tasted. After spending 40 minutes walking around the cliffs to see if we could find a safe way down we abandoned that plan and tracked back until we found the (human) trail. The rest of the hike was uneventful, just rocks and trees. 3.5 out of 5

7 months ago

Amazing. Hard. Long. We did go counter clockwise, thank goodness, the other way around would have been madness. We are mid 30s, fit and used to strenuous hikes. Still took us 8 hours (with lots of photos). The scramble on loose rocks felt iffy, we heard an avalanche while standing on the top in an adjacent valley. Bring plenty of water. We had rain, snow, mud, loose rocks, sunshine,... everything, so bring your layers! Breaking through the clouds to the sunshine above was glorious. Stunning 360 degrees views. The ridge hike was delightful. Overall, strenuous and no joke, be prepared and know your way.

That was wonderful!!!!!! This is the best hike that I’ve done in Canmore.

Absolutely stunning hike definitely going to come back. but make sure you do it counter clockwise

Did it clockwise. Big mistake! Beautiful up to the top and along the ridge is pretty remarkable. It was the loose rocks and lack of trail on the way down that ruined it for us.

Absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful at sunset! Only did the first 2 kms starting in town. Very easy walk.

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