Grassi Lakes, Canmore, Alberta

Grassi Lakes is an easy, family-friendly hike located just south-west of Canmore, Alberta, along the Smith-Dorrien Trail. The trailhead has a nice sized parking lot with a toilet and picnic area making it convenient for families. We went around the two little lakes, up to the pictographs and beyond to the area by Whiteman’s Pond. We were out for 1 hr 47 minutes covering a total distance of just over 5km. Elevation gain to the lakes is gentle, beyond the lakes up to the pictographs and farther is at times a steeper ascent but there are stairs at points for ease of climbing. With the snow Cramp-Ons or some similar traction device is recommended. See our trace Grassi Lakes.

Grassi Lakes are named after Lorenzo Grassi, an Italian immigrant who settled in this area of the Rockies and apparently spent much of his free time making hiking trails, which include the one we took this day to the two little lakes bearing his name. The trails go on considerably farther than the track we made, but not all were open for hiking in the winter making this a future boogievan adventure. Below is the trail map we found.

It doesn’t take long to get up to the lakes and the waterfall. We did not descend to an area that allowed for a good picture of the falls, instead staying on top looking down. Below you can see the bridge that forms part of the wildlife corridor in the distance below.

The lakes are quite small, but picturesque. One can either continue on the trail past the lakes or one can go around the back of the lakes to the rock climbing area and pictographs. Go around the left side of the lake to find the stairs leading up.

Just up the first stairs to the left is a climbing wall. We’ve done some indoor climbing so this looked like a great place to take the next step into rock faces on a summer adventure.

Not far from the climbing wall is the grotto with the pictographs. The pictographs are on a big block of stone right in the middle of the area. I have read that these are believed to be Hopi drawings due to the pictograph of the flutist which is unique to Hopi traditions. Whatever their origin, they are interesting and something worthy of conservation.

There is a cave close to the pictographs and I understand there are more caves with more of these types of drawings in the area.

A look back towards the lakes from the grotto area is as beautiful as it gets in the mountains.

Moving up there are more stairs, beyond which once can climb up to Whiteman’s Pond; this is right along the Spray Lake Road. The pond appears to be part of the hydro-power system that one finds in this area. Much breezier up along the pond.

As we made our way back to the parking lot we walked around the other side of the lakes. In the winter scenes the colours of the lakes and the reflections they held were quite amazing.

Between the lakes is a plaque dedicated to Lorenzo Grassi.

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