DISTANCE
5.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,435 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

trail running

forest

views

wildlife

snow

hiking
16 days ago

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.