I am happy to state that I am the newest member of the leadership team with the amazing group of people at Rockies Rentals Canmore! I am beyond excited to be a part of this company for the long run and have been given such a good opportunity to grow with this amazing company.
Let me start off by speaking a little bit about myself and professing what my first impressions of Canmore are in the short time I have had the pleasure of living in the beautiful quant town.
My name is Dallas and I grew up in the prairies of Alberta. Shortly after high school I went to College for my Hospitality and Tourism Diploma. I wanted to be able to explore and see as much of the world as possible while getting paid to do so. So naturally, after college, I have had the pleasure of spending most of my adult life traveling. I was fortunate enough to have visited 8 countries, 6 provinces in Canada and 26 states in the USA. All while living in some of the nicest Mountain Resort Towns in Western Canada. Places such as Lake Louise AB, Kimberley BC, Jasper National Park. Yoho National Park, Invermere BC and so many more. My favorite places so far has been living and working in Jasper National Park and Kimberley BC.
I feel that I will be adding Canmore to that list very shortly. As my first impressions of here have been that it is already the friendliest and most accommodating of them all. There is a real sense of community in this town. I wish that I had decided to move here a while ago as I can tell that this already does feel like home for me. I came here expecting to stay for a year or so and move on to another resort town as I often do. However, now I can see myself staying here for much longer than one year and maybe even settling here for good one day. Like so many people here I have met, it feels like it would be a really hard place to leave.
I feel that Canmore is a great blend of being in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, while still being close to big city living with Calgary being just over 100 KM away. You can drive to the Cowtown and back without it disrupting your entire day. But for those who prefer staying in the smaller town, Canmore has everything you could need. From world class skiing, golfing, bike trails and hiking trails to dozens of fantastic restaurants, breweries and pubs. The shopping here is also a unique experience as there are dozens of little quant shops owned by local Canmorites. These shops collectively have almost anything you could possibly be looking for. All while still having some of the most popular Canadian grocery and department stores such as Save on Foods, Canadian Tire and Sobeys for those who prefer to do all their shopping in one place.
Canmore is a rare blend between having a busy yet quiet atmosphere simultaneously. There always seems to be quite a few people out and about. Yet, even during long weekends in peak season, Canmore seems to be at a slower pace with a relaxing and quiet atmosphere all over the town. As someone who has spent a lot of time living in Calgary, I feel that Canmore is a best kept secret from most Calgarians. The mountain views are absolutely breathtaking. It is hard to believe that it is only
only an hour away but I feel that Canmore is often overshadowed by Banff. For me personally I prefer the quieter small town feel of Canmore. For those who do prefer the busier streets of Banff, it is only a 15-minute drive away on the beautiful and scenic highway number 1.
The location to the most popular ski hills in the Canadian Rocky Mountains can not be beat. We are a short drive to Lake Louise, Sunshine, Nakiska, Mount Norquay and soon Fortress Mountain Resort which is now re-opening in December 2023.
I was astounded with just how many Some of the best Hiking Trails in the Rockies are located in the Canmore area with 119 trails ranging from beginner to professional. It would take me years to be able to conquer them all but I am looking forward to trying.
The Quant shops in town are a delightful escape from the big city. Many are owned by local shopkeepers that grew up in Canmore and always seem happy to assist you in your shopping needs.
8th street is the heart of downtown Canmore and is one of my favorite places to go when out on the town. They have dozens of touristy places to shop, eat and drink. The street is always busy but never too packed like other downtown streets in other tourist towns. There is always something to do or see when shopping or getting out on the town when you go to 8th street.
Also, Canmore is a very short drive to 6 amazing golf courses all with excellent scenery. My personal favorite so far is the Kananaskis Golf Course which is less than an hour away down one of the best scenic highways in all of Alberta. In town there is the Silvertip Resort which I haven’t tried yet but it definitely seems like a local favorite.
The weather has been very mild which is nice. Never too warm or never too cold. I am looking forward to see what the winter months has to offer as I love playing winter sports and I can already tell that this surely seems like a winter sports town.
I am a hockey nerd so one of the things I am looking most forward to is watching the Canmore Eagles of the AJHL (Alberta Junior Hockey League). They have been the top Junior hockey team here since 1995. As a big hockey fan, I am looking forward to being able to go to one of their many games this year at the Recreation Centre as the new season is just getting underway this month.
There are so many excellent breweries / pubs in town, my plan is to try them all one day but for now I have only been to very few places. The Canmore Brewing Company has to be my favorite so far. I am looking forward to have more to recommend as time goes on. There are far too many to try in such a short period of time but I am looking forward to the challenge.
I look forward to updating this with a new blog sometime in 2023 when I have had more of an opportunity to have tried more of what this amazing place has to offer. In the meantime, I want to invite anyone who wants an exciting, yet relaxing experience to come visit us in Canmore sometime soon.
Gluten Free Options in the Bow Valley that Get Our Vote
While spending time in the Bow Valley you will want to feel at the top of your game. With all the wonderful outdoor activities on offer, the last thing you want is to be slowed down by something you ate. The high altitude and dry climate may already be taking its toll, so if gluten is going to get in the way of you living your best mountain life, it is time to relax and check out some of our staff-tested Gluten Free recommendations!
Communitea Café, Canmore
Best for Breakfast and Lunch!
Think healthy bowls, filling burritos/wraps and tasty paninis that you can wash down with a smoothie. The Big Breakfast Bowl is more than suitable way to start the day, while the Chipotle Chicken Avocado Quesadilla is tasty choice for Lunch.
Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, Canmore & Banff
Best for Pizza
While strictly not a pizza, a flatbread is about 95% of the way there, and boy are they great! The Fig, Bison & Brie Flatbread is a highlight, as well as the excellent Maple Bacon Mac & Cheese (yes, gluten free mac & cheese that isn’t lame!)
(403) 609-5508 Website
Spice Hut, Canmore
Best for Indian! Duh!
Wonderfully, most of their food is Gluten and Lactose Free. Start off with a few Pakoras, then the Tandoori Malayi Chicken with the Eggplant Bharta and you can’t go wrong. For the gluten-eaters in your family, the Coconut Naan is a must try!
FOUR TWO NINE SIX, Canmore
Best for Fine Dining!
A relative newcomer to the Downtown Canmore dining scene, it is certainly a contender to be the best meal out you can have out in the Valley. The menu does change regularly, but current favourites include Popcorn Tofu for an appetizer, Patatas Bravas and Koji Aged Wagyu Flank for mains and the Yuzu-Strawberry Magnum for dessert. The cocktails are an event at “4296”, so don’t be afraid to splash out because it is worth it!
The Iron Goat Pub & Grill, Canmore
Best for Selection!
An excellent selection of pub grub and drinks, along a view that is tough to beat. We would go for the Game Burger with a BC Fruits Peach & Pear Cider. But there’s no need take our word for it, just listen to “celiacmomma” on TripAdvisor:
Nourish Bistro, Banff
Best for Vegetarian/Vegan!
With a cool atmosphere and an awesome variety of flavours, Nourish does not have to be just enjoyed by vegans and vegetarians. The Poutine is Cajun Spiced with a Panang sauce and shredded cheese curds that you won’t forget in a hurry, while the Kimchi Burger is certainly worth a repeat visit. Their Wild Mushroom Ravioli should keep the non-GF’ers happy too!
(403) 760-3933 Website
Rocky Mountain Bagel CO, Canmore
Best for On-the-go
Want to grab something easy on the way to Lake Louise? Maybe load up for lunch on EEOR? A GF Bagel from Rocky Mountain Bagel CO will hit the spot every time! There is a varied selection of fillings to choose from and they take cross contamination very seriously, with separate knifes/toasters etc. An Eggle with Bacon is a great way to start the day, while the Mountaineer (pastrami, pickles, cream cheese ect.) is a personal favourite. Their Cold Brew coffee is excellent too!
Wild Orchid, Canmore
Best for Sushi!
There are a few places to get sushi in Canmore, but Wild Orchid is most definitely a step up from the rest. A delicious selection of Asian Tapas and Mains are on offer, the Beef Tataki and Pork Tan-Tan Noodle Soup being particular favourites. But the sushi is where it is at! The Crunchy Salmon Roll is a great place to start, and they have a fine selection of Sake to knock back too.
Fergie’s Bakery and Convenience, Canmore
Best for GF Bread!
If you’re looking for really great gluten free bread, Fergie’s is the best we’ve found in town. It is worth calling ahead to make sure that they still have some in stock though, as it is quite popular.
Laggan’s Mountain Bakery & Delicatessen, Lake Louise
Best for Chicken Fingers!
And also, finally, shout out to Laggan’s in Lake Louise for their GF chicken fingers, which have saved many a Celiac on their way out of town.
There are plenty of other restaurants and bakeries around the Bow Valley that have gluten free options, so don’t be afraid to try new places and always let their staff know beforehand if you have any issues with gluten.
Planning an Engagement in Canmore?
Are you planning an engagement in Canmore? A proposal is a special occasion. And the Canadian Rockies are a special place. Do you see where I am going with this? For an outdoor proposal, you will be hard-pressed to find a better backdrop than what Canmore and the surrounding area can provide, but there are still great options for those who wish to keep the romance indoors. From the simple to the sublime, feel free to get inspired by some of our suggestions below.
It is important to remember when planning your proposal that you should both feel comfortable in the environment where the proposal occurs, especially outside.
Some Factors to Consider
- Time of day – Sunrise or Sunset? Early Bird or Night Owl?
- Privacy, crowds etc. – Some people don’t mind a crowd, some certainly do!
- Weather – Always have a plan B & C, as the weather rarely plays nice in the mountains.
- Activity – Fitness, enthusiasm, interest all come into play.
- Photography – A selfie on your phone? Or a professional waiting in the wings?
If you are determined to have mountains in the background of your proposal, you really are spoilt for choice. Combine your proposal with a hike or bike trip and there are literally thousands of options. Some of the more popular spots will fill up quickly, so it is almost always best to leave earlier in the day. Weather conditions and the season will play a role too.
Seasonal Engagement Locations Near Canmore
- Spring – The iconic Lake Louise is hard to say no to. It’s a gentle stroll to the end of the lake with incredible surroundings. You can go further though!
- Summer – The wildflowers at Healy Pass or the view and seclusion from Grassi Knob are excellent places to pop the question!
- Fall – The Larch Valley in Lake Louise is stunningly beautiful, and you can read all about about hiking up there.
- Winter – Ha Ling is close to the town of Canmore, and while it’s not an easy hike to the summit you’re rewarded with a breathtaking, spectacular view.
Combine Your Engagement with a Special Activity
You could combine your proposal with a unique activity, of which there are many to choose from! You can head out yourself, but there are many great tour companies that offer add-ons for popping the question, so it’s worth looking into a few.
- Canadian Rockies Experience – Offering guided experiences all year round, these guys will make sure whatever you are doing, from snowshoeing and ice walks to Summer Twilight Tours! Rockies Rentals guests get 10% off!
- Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours – The most special Canadian experience anyone can have in Winter! Let the guides and husky heroes at Snowy Owl take the lead for you!
- Alpine Helicopters Inc – Spectacular sightseeing is an ideal set up for popping the question!
- Boundary Ranch – Riding the trails in “K-Country”, it might be a little further to get down to one knee off a horse, but it’ll be worth the trip. They even offer overnight pack trips in summer.
There’s also skiing, climbing, rafting, canoeing, caving, backcountry camping, kayaking, wild ice skating, frisbee golf, bird watching; the options are varied and endless!
Romantic Restaurants in Canmore
What about a proposal during dinner out? You don’t have to hide the ring in their dessert, but fine food in a romantic setting is a classic. Here are our 4 top picks:
- four two nine six Possibly the most unique, creative and enjoyable dining experience in town.
- änkôr New kid on the block that’s raising the standard of dining in the Valley.
- Tapas Romantic and delicious sharing plates.
- EDEN at the Rimrock A 5 star experience that lives long in the memory.
Private Chefs in Canmore
How romantic would it be to have a local private chef cook a special feast for you and your partner, either at one of the Rockies Rentals properties or at a campfire? We know of a few people!
- Epicureans Specialists in BBQ and Outdoor Campfire experiences. They also do Wine and Scotch tastings, as well as Mixology Classes!
- Currys Curries by Ryan De Alwis Ryan is the proprietor of Currys Curries and is also a private chef specialising in mainly Asian cuisine, but also Mediterranean food.
Places to Find Romantic Picnic Supplies in Canmore
A romantic picnic in one of the many beautiful locations around town can’t go amiss! You can pick up all the necessary cheese, charcuterie, bread etc. at all these fine establishments:
- Rusticana Grocery A local institution for anything and everything.
- Red Gables Deli Fresh, locally sourced meats, breads and cheeses.
- JK Bakery Cafe Great choice of breads and pastries, along with a mighty fine sausage roll.
- Valbella Gourment Foods The local go to for the meat elements of any snack, picnic or meal.
- Market Bistro Delicious food in the Bistro, but the liquor shop next door has an exceptional selection of drinks to take with you.
Engagement in Canmore – Photographers
If you want to capture your special moment you could also hire a local professional photographer. To keep your engagement a surprise, you could say that you hired a photographer to follow you around. That way if your partner wishes to look their best for the proposal then they can, but the element of surprise can still be maintained! We highly recommend the following local photographers, both are experienced with proposals:
- Caleb Huizinga Photography A plus with Caleb is that he’s also an experienced outdoor guide, so that can also be a “reason” as to why he’s there. The photos in this blog are all his!
- Wild Alpine Images Kahli and Leo are experts in both elopement photography and great locations. They have multiple packages on offer and your experience is fully customisable.
You can use one or combine a few of these ideas together to make sure the moment is as memorable as possible. Looking for somewhere romantic to stay? Rockies Rentals has the best collection of mountain homes available in Canmore.
Meet the founder of Canadian Rockies Experiences, one of our preferred service vendors!
Why did you start Canadian Rockies Experiences?
Canadian Rockies Experience was founded to provide private, personalized and authentic experiences in the Rockies. We saw a gap in the market for a luxurious, all inclusive private tour guiding company. Our guests are exceptionally well taken care of from the moment they step into our vehicle until we drop them off, we aim to spoil our guests with great food, relaxed and knowledgeable guides and of course the scenery speaks for itself.
What’s your background?
I am originally from Ireland, and was a phys. ed. teacher in the Irish Prison System for almost 10 years. I left this role to travel and spend some time living and working in Australia and New Zealand before making it to Canada. Once I had arrived in Canmore, I signed up to do an apprentice guiding course with the Interpretive Guides Association (IGA). This was the perfect combination of being active and also educating people in a relaxed situation. I have definitely found my passion!
What kinds of experiences do you offer?
Canadian Rockies Experience is a Canmore based company offering all inclusive private sightseeing tours, guided hiking, snowshoeing and ice walks in the Winter. We run tours in both the Provincial and National parks. We have multiple tours on our website but specialize in tailor-made tours. These give our guests multiple options and also allows us to customize the exact tour the guest requires. The majority of our tours ensure that guests arrive at busy locations at times when there are smaller crowds. See our Lake Louise Twilight Tour for details. We provide food from local bakeries and suppliers and use top class restaurants. We use SUV size vehicles only, which ensures an intimate experience.
Who are your typical clients?
Generally, our clientele are guests looking for a unique, special experience. Our clients range from honeymooners to planning the perfect proposal or guests who want a hassle free tour with no worries. Many of our guests want to feel safe and have an expert to rely on when they are a little out of their comfort zone, such as hiking or snowshoeing in the mountains. Our guests are both local and international and we have some wonderful repeat guests who keep coming back.
What makes your experiences unique?
Time and time again we get feedback saying “We felt so well looked after” – we aim to take the hassle out of their tour, providing everything they need without our guests needing to make any decisions apart from booking the tour.
What’s your most popular tour?
Banff Sunrise Tour is a popular sightseeing tour, it gives our guests the chance to see the sights of Banff with very few people around. We set up chairs, tables and supply hot beverages, pastries and blankets to give our guests the best experience when watching the sunrise. Sightseeing follows at all Banff’s great locations and a few hidden gems. Breakfast is also included at the historic Banff Springs Hotel.
Our Kananaskis Mini Tour is proving popular this summer, it gives a little taste of Kananaskis country with a short, family friendly hike and sightseeing stops. A delicious charcuterie picnic and dessert are served in the perfect scenic location. This is a great way to explore a lesser known area of the Canadian Rockies.
Are you offering anything new this summer?
We put together a Mini Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour. This is a difficult area to access but as a tour operator we are guaranteed access. You should not leave the Canadian Rockies without seeing both of these iconic lakes. This 4 hour tour stops at both lakes and also includes a drive down the Bow Valley Parkway to Castle Junction. Delicious pastries, snacks, hot and cold drinks are all included.
Any exciting plans for next winter?
We are excited to welcome our international guests back, fingers crossed! We are constantly adding and changing our tours. One of our most popular tours last winter was the Grotto Canyon Evening Ice Walk. Guests are collected after dinner and a short drive brings them to the trailhead. Traction aids and headlamps are attached before starting the evening adventure. Snow and ice glisten as headlamps change direction as we make our way towards frozen waterfalls where hot beverages and desserts are served. It truly is a unique experience.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Rockies Rental guests get 10% off! Promo code Rockies10.
Even if you have been to the Canadian Rockies many times, we are sure we can find a unique spot to ignite your wonder.
Connect with Canadian Rockies Experiences:
Spring Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
Spring is a tricky time of year in the Bow Valley for hiking due to wet and often unpredictable weather and therefore trail conditions. Anyone who complains that “…we’re having such strange weather this week” during the spring must be new to town. Spring Hikes in the Canadian Rockies are often hikes that can be done all year, but we think you’ll enjoy them the most earlier in the year. You can truly experience all four seasons in a day, so make sure you double check the trail reports and pack a waterproof jacket!
Local Favourite: Lake Agnes Trail to Plain of Six Glaciers Trail Loop, Lake Louise (10.8 km / Moderate)
You might hear people criticize that Lake Louise gets too overcrowded, but you’ll rarely hear anyone claim it’s overrated. Lake Louise is simply breathtaking. A sight to behold once you arrive, the views get so much better once you are above the lake! Be prepared to leave early in the morning to get a parking spot or use the park and ride shuttle service a few kilometers south of Lake Louise. Be warned even the bus parking lot will fill up on busier days like weekends and holidays.
This trail is so enjoyable as there’s so much to see and it can be adapted and altered depending on the fitness, experience and interest level of your group. The length (and difficulty) of the trail almost doubles if you take every detour. Boot grips are recommended, even in late spring.
Most approach this route counter-clockwise, which takes you up to Mirror Lake and then along to Lake Agnes. There, you’ll find the Lake Agnes Teahouse, an incredible spot to grab a snack if you wish (bring cash). You can then take a quick detour to the Little Beehive where you get an excellent view over Lake Louise while marveling at how far you have ascended. Walking around Lake Agnes, you have a choice, you can either take the Devil’s Thumb Trail around (where you can summit the Devil’s Thumb this way if you wish), or clamber up the much steeper Big Beehive. Majestic views of Lake Louise reward those who reach the end of the Big Beehive.
You might find the crowds thinning out as you head towards the Plain of Six Glaciers along the Highline Trail. The glaciers will come into view, and before any feelings of insignificance set in, you’ll have to decide on whether to drop down to the trail below and head back to Lake Louise or continue to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House for another pit stop and even more exquisite views of the glaciers. You might hear them cracking in the distance on warmer days. Also known as the “Tea House Challenge” taking in both tea house is a fantastic experience. Either way, you will finish up walking beside Lake Louise to get back into the town.
More Spring Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
Tunnel Mountain at Banff Townsite (4.5 km / Moderate)
Splendid views overlooking Banff and the surrounding area. A good “tune-up” hike to get into the season.
Boom Lake in Kootenay National Park (10.8 km / Easy)
A more relaxed day hike, especially for families. Nature all around with lots of good rest spots.
Jewell Pass via Prairie View Trail in Kananaskis (15.9 km / Moderate)
A popular yet respectable hike, offering wonderful views and a great way for beginners to feel good about themselves.
Mount Baldy in Kananaskis (6.4 km / Hard)
This hike climbs almost a kilometer in elevation gain, but wonderful views of the Elbow-Sheep Wildland await those who make it to the top.
We’ve also detailed day hikes for Summer, Fall, and Winter. It is worth noting that all of these hikes require that dogs be leashed – for off leash dog park recommendations, check here.
Fantastic Fall Hikes Near Canmore
LARCH MADNESS! Fall is the time to catch the colours changing, and the last chance to reach a few choice spots before the roads and trails start closing. There are definitely plenty of hikes to be thankful for at this time of year! Remember that weather is always changing in the mountains. When setting out on fall hikes you should be prepared to see a bit of every season.
Local Favourite: Sentinel Pass via Larch Valley Trail, Lake Louise (11.6 km / Hard)
You will have to wake up early for this one! Moraine Lake parking lot gets full by 6am during Larch season. You can arrive early and have a nap in your car before setting off, but most hikers will get going immediately while it is still dark as the hike up to the Larch Valley isn’t all that. You will get the chance to see Lake Moraine on the way back down anyway. It is quite a steep climb, so don’t feel bad taking plenty of breaks. Those people overtaking you in the first hour? Trust me, they are going to be behind you again by lunch!
Once the forested switchbacks are out of the way, and the sun has hopefully risen, you will find yourself in the midst of Larch season. Generally, from mid to late September, various valleys around the area burst into gold. And nowhere does it more, or better, than the aptly named Larch Valley. You will then only have to endure a gradual ascent through the valley, where it is almost impossible to take too many photos. Eventually, the trail rises above the timberline, and you can take in the sheer majesty of the mountains around you.
It is definitely worth carrying on from here up to the Sentinel Pass. Situated between Mt Temple and Pinnacle Mountain, it offers the finest and most spectacular views of almost anywhere in the Canadian Rockies. The ascent can be a little slushy and icy, but perseverance will be rewarded. On the way back down, you will get some nice views of Lake Moraine through the trees to round out the day.
You won’t regret the early start!
More Fall Hikes Around Canmore
Pocaterra Ridge in Kananaskis (9.8 km / Hard)
A point to point hike that requires some serious stamina. Prepare to feel the burn in those thighs, but the views are stunning and then some! A couple Larches for your troubles too!
Bow River Trail in Canmore (6.1 km / Easy)
A nice stroll by the river and through some forest. Nothing more, nothing less. This is where you’ll be able to snag that classic “Canmore Engine Bridge with Ha Ling and EEOR in the background” picture we know you’ve all been searching for.
Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake Trail in Kananaskis (11.3 km / Hard)
For those who wish to push themselves a little bit further into the deep wilderness. Varied difficult terrain from loose dirt to straight up rock sections with ropes, but totally worth it. Please be aware that if you are going to encounter a grizzly bear anywhere, it would be here!
C Level Cirque (9.3 km / Moderate)
Cascade Mountain’s little brother, a winding trail past old mine entrances and through the forest brings you to the base of the mountain. A scramble up the right of the Cirque is a must, the views of Lake Minnewanka are truly something special!
We’ve created guides for all seasons! Check out these posts where we’ve also detailed day hikes for Summer, Spring, and Winter. It is worth noting that all of these hikes require that dogs be leashed – for off leash dog park recommendations, check here.
The Best Winter Hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis
Looking to shed some of that “Xmas Cheer” you packed on? Can’t keep your balance skiing but still want to be active? Well, have I got a suggestion for you! Just remember that there is no such thing as overdressed at this time of year, so layer up. And nope, your UGGS or Blundstones are not going to cut it. Check out what we consider to be some of the best winter hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis.
Local Favourite: Ha Ling Trail to Ha Ling Peak in Canmore (7.2 km / Hard)
Popular thanks to its close proximity to Canmore, Ha Ling is a difficult trail that far too many people underestimate. Steeper than most expect, with weather conditions can change very quickly so if you think you might need it, bring it! Boot grips are essential this time of year, and be prepared to lose your balance a few times.
You will begin making your way through a lovely forested area, which lasts for about half of the journey. There will be spots to take in the views, but trust me, it is always better the higher you ascend. When you reach a section of iced-over rocks with a metal chain; don’t be a hero, just use the chain to help you climb. Once you are above the timberline, there may be a deepish snow section to traverse. Depending on the weather, it may be a nicely packed trail or 2 feet of powder you wish you had brought snowshoes for. Whatever the conditions, it’s not going anywhere and as long as you take your time it is manageable.
You’ll know you are past the worst of it when you reach the first set of steps. Helpfully put there by Alberta Parks to reduce the amount of scrambling, they become somewhat treacherous once iced over. Once again, just take your time and ease your way up both sets of stairs. Now you are moments away from the saddle, a perfect point to stop and admire what you have accomplished so far. You will feel like you tower over Canmore! Now you can either stop here and feel it is a job well done, or you can continue onto the peak! The trail will grow steeper, and the term “mountain goat” may pop into your head, but if something was worth doing it would not be easy!
Now you are probably wondering “Why do Ha Ling in Winter? It seems so much tougher when it is already so difficult!” And to that I say firstly, that is the wrong attitude to have, and secondly, remember those treacherous stairs and iced over rock sections on the way up? Well, they just became the most fun you will ever have descending a mountain! Smoothed out ice slides that will make you forget what you were just complaining about. Just make sure there are no errant rocks or branches around that might snag you, then slide down long sections of the mountain on your butt!** Just a stone’s throw from Canmore, the most gratifying way to experience Ha Ling!
Video care of @squeekie_toth **Rockies Rentals does not accept any liability in the event of damaged clothing/equipment and/or injury sustained as a result of sliding down Ha Ling. Just be careful, ok? If you see a rock sticking out, just don’t risk it!
More of The Best Winter Hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis
Lower/Upper Kananaskis Lake (Moderate)
Superb snowshoeing conditions to be found deep into “K-Country” and also the occasional moose. Prepare to quickly find yourself waist deep if you step off a trail though!
Grotto Canyon Trail east of Canmore (7.1 km / Easy)
A distant cousin of the far, far tougher Grotto Mountain. Perfect for all skill levels, with a frozen waterfall and Inukshuk Garden along the way.
Prairie Mountain near Kananaskis (6.6 km / Hard)
Great workout; a steep trail with slick, icy spots throughout! Views of Calgary on a clear day if you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on what your think about Calgary).
Troll Falls Trail in Kananaskis (3.4 km / Easy)
Great for the whole family, although boot grips may come in handy when venturing to the upper falls.
We’ve also detailed day hikes for Summer, Spring, and Fall. It is worth noting that all of these hikes require that dogs be leashed – for off leash dog park recommendations, check here.
5 Summer Day Hikes to Explore
Summer is the busiest time in the Canadian Rockies and the Bow Valley and for good reason. Beautiful weather, abundant wildlife and stunning wildflowers. If you’re willing to leave a little earlier in the day you might just beat the crowds. Slap on some 30 SPF sunscreen and remember to bring lots of water – stay hydrated! Check out these great Summer day hikes to explore during your stay.
Local Favourite: Rockbound Lake at Castle Mountain in Banff National Park (17.9 km / Moderate)
An alpine adventure if there ever was one! Start with a steady climb through the pristine forest. After around 4 km, the trail flattens out and you will be treated to views of the impressive Eisenhower Peak and the northern face of Castle Mountain.
Wildflowers will likely be out in bloom if you have gone a little later in the season. There’s a false finish, with the bright green Tower Lake greeting you, but there are some tough gravel switchbacks to assail first before you reach the final destination. Dropping down a short way through some more forest, Rockbound Lake will be right there! A panoramic spot, there’s plenty to explore once you reach it. Bizarre rock formations to clamber on and scree aplenty to slide down, the lake itself has decent brown trout fishing too.
For those with the desire to, there is an option from here to summit Castle Mountain, which increases the hike to over 30 km in distance and hard in difficulty rating. It is worth just getting up onto the ridge for the views alone. The trail is not well marked after the Lake, and be prepared for high winds and frigid temperatures once you reach the more exposed sections. But as an achievement, most locals put Castle Mountain up there! You will have earned a few ice-cold beverages after this!
More Summer Day Hikes Around Canmore
Grassi Knob near Canmore (5.7 km / Hard)
Short but sweet diversion from just off of the Highline Trail, there is no better view of The Three Sisters from the ground than this spot. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool.
Jura Creek Trail east of Canmore (6.9 km / Moderate)
If the temperature pushing 30C plus and the UV index is off the charts this is the place to head to? You are in the shade for most of this trail, a godsend for those fairer skinned explorers. A couple crystal clear pools are also available to cool down in.
Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park (5.1 km / Easy)
For those who do not own hiking boots, and may never wish to own hiking boots. There are nice waterfalls along the way but expect crowds. (Note – during summer 2021 this area is only accessible by shuttle bus)
Healy Pass Trail in Banff National Park (18.3 km / Hard)
Rated as tough not for steepness or terrain, but for the steady and constant elevation gain. Not a particularly interesting hike, except for during late summer when the wildflowers bloom! The Pass straddles the border of British Colombia and Alberta too if that floats your boat.
We’ve also detailed day hikes for Spring, Fall and Winter. It is worth noting that all of these hikes require that dogs be leashed – for off leash dog park recommendations, check here.
Local Business Feature: Sheepdog Brewing
It’s not a bad day at work when the assignment is “Please go interview the Sheepdog Brewing Staff”.
Sean sat down with Sheepdog Founders Allen Russel and Josh Forster, and enjoyed a pint and a laugh.
Sean: When did Sheepdog start? What is the origin of the name?
Allen: We opened our doors in June 2019! (Side note: The Rockies Rentals Crew was there!!) Josh and I started the concept in 2017 and in 2018 our third partner, David joined us. We went through a bunch of name ideas and finally decided on Sheepdog Brewing. All three of us are firefighters, law enforcement and a veteran so Sheepdog was an analogy for first responders, veterans and military.
There was a Lieutenant Colonel in the US military, who was a ranger, he came up with an analogy for military personnel going to war. He said that society is like a herd of sheep, they do their own thing, eat the grass, go to work. On the outside of the herd are the wolves that prey on the herd, like the bad guys or the terrorists. Then there’s the sheepdog who sits on the hill guarding the flock. When the wolves come to prey on the sheep, the sheepdog jumps into action and protects the flock.
Sean: So… you’re protecting the town of Canmore with beer?
Allen: Yeah, exactly!! You guessed it! Sheepdog Brewing is a great place to spot a local firefighter!
Sean: How many beers/ales/stouts etc. do you typically have available?
Allen: We have 16 taps so we try and have 15 different types of beers available, plus we have a cider on tap too. We’re releasing a new item in July 2021 but it’s super secret right now.
Sean: How did “Pedal for Pints” come about?
Josh: We’re all big mountain bikers here in town. We wanted to find a way to support the local trail maintenance crews and find a way to raise some funds to build more trails and sustain our existing trails. We figured, what’s better than riding bikes and drinking beer? So we created a loop for businesses to get some awareness and sponsorship and a way for people to socialize after COVID.
Sean: What is your favourite non-alcoholic beverage?
Allen: Ginger beer!
Sean: What is the worst beer in the world?
Allen: I don’t know if there is a worst beer, maybe macro brewed beer. It’s cheap, but flavourless.
Sean: I hear that Sheepdog is dog friendly, which brings me to my final 2 questions; Who’s a good boy? Are you a good boy?
Allen: *Belly Laugh* That’s right!! I’m a good boy! Do I get a cookie?
Staff Favourites from Sheepdog Brewing
Sean’s Pick: Coconut Porter, and the Guava Kettle Sour
Kristina’s Pick: Guava Kettle Sour, and the Boysenberry Wheat Ale
Charla’s Pick: Charla is our eternal Designated Driver, and *loves* the “Non Alcoholic Beer Dispenser” on the 2nd Level. Spoiler alert: It’s a Fire Hydrant.
When asked his favourite Tom Replied: “Not been there in a while so not sure really. I like wheat beers though”… Follow our Blog for more of Tom’s Recommendations.
Check out what they’ve got on tap, which days they have food trucks, and where to find their patio next time you’re in Canmore here!
Hiking in the Bow Valley and Canadian Rockies
Since you’ve decided to stay in Canmore for your mountain adventure, you better not be spending all your time inside! Hiking can be a great way to get away from the crowds and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of our surrounding area. The great outdoors is accessible all year long, so strap on some good sturdy boots and try hiking in the Bow Valley and Canadian Rockies!
Some day hikes are great for any season, some might only be accessible at certain times of the year. This is by no means a comprehensive list. The Rocky Mountains would take even the most avid hiker a couple of lifetimes to fully explore. From Kananaskis to Castle Mountain, Lake Louise to Policeman’s Creek, it’s all great and it’s all waiting for you to explore!
We’ve put together a collection of some of our favourite day hikes by season and they can be found here:
Hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to check out some of these hikes. But remember – it is always best to do your own research beforehand, using multiple sources. These sources could be including but not limited to:
Be aware of any possible closures and/or advisories. Remember that everyone has different levels of fitness and ambition, but the most important thing is getting out there and exploring the Canadian Rockies while respecting the environment and everything that resides within it. Do not forget your bear spray (yes, all year round), good boots, an extra pair of socks and never skimp when packing the snacks!