Canmore – A canyon, a waterfall and a broken hand

After three days spent exploring Banff and Yoho National Parks, it was time to go back home. I decided that we would spent our last night in Alberta in Cochrane, a small town conveniently located between the Rockies and Calgary, from which we would fly back home. On the road to Cochrane, my brother and I decided to stop in Canmore to do some last hikes in the Rockies.

Located at about an hour of Calgary, Canmore is like the gateway to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The small town is close to Banff National Park, Kananaskis Provincial Park and numerous ski resort, making it a popular resort town, with a slightly less “mass tourism” side than Banff.

Canmore, Alberta

My brother and I stopped at the Canmore Tourist Office, we spread out our maps of the area, read the flyers on hikes to do, calculated the time we had and built a schedule for the day. In the end, we chose to do two easy hikes: Grotto Canyon and Troll Falls.

We first headed to Grotto Canyon, a drive of about 20 minutes from Canmore. There was not much signs to indicate where the trail was, and it was only the big amount of car parked on the side of the road that helped us find the trail head.

The first metres of the hike were done under power lines and with the background sound of an ore mill. But then we reached the canyon and had in front of us a lovely view on the surrounding mountains. This reassured us on our choice of hikes for the day.

Grotto Canyon
Grotto Canyon, you have pretty views

The hike in Grotto Canyon is fairly easy (we met a lot of families with young kids and dogs). You just have to follow the creek in the canyon (and sometimes jump over it). As we advanced in the canyon, the canyon walls became taller and more vertical, making it a perfect spot for wall climbing (there were some people climbing when we were there). We eventually got to a waterfall (still frozen), and continued our way until we reached a small inukshuk garden. From there, the canyon slowly expands to become a valley. At this point, we decided it was time to go back to our car.

Grotto Canyon
Alone in Grotto Canyon

It’s on the way back that it happened. After two hours of jumping and jumping again over the little creek, I don’t understand how I could stumble while walking on a relatively even surface. And I fell hard. My knees and my right hand took it all. After panicking for a few seconds because I couldn’t move my ring finger anymore, I put my hand in the cold water of creek and was able to move weakly my fingers.

Despite my skinned knees and my throbbing hand, we decided to do the other hike we had planned. We headed in the direction of Kananaskis Provincial Park. As for the Grotto Canyon trail, there was no signs on the road to indicate where was the trail to Troll Falls. Google Maps brought us to a ski resort closed for the season. After walking in circle in the empty parking lot, we looked at our maps again, retraced our steps and finally found the trail head.

Troll Falls
On the way to Troll Falls

Troll Falls is another fairly easy hike, ideal for families. As we were at the end of the day, there were few people. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the waterfall. But we were walking quite fast as we wanted to be in Cochrane before dinner time.

The waterfall is a dozen of metres high. I have seen falls that are more impressive, but since we missed Takakkaw Falls the day before, we were quite happy to have found this one. It is possible to climb along the cliff to get closer to the waterfall, but I let my brother go on his own, while I waited calmly down with my unusable hand.

Troll Falls
My brother and the waterfall

The Troll Falls trail is about 3 kilometres (return). We were back to our car in time for our drive to Cochrane.

And what about my hand? When I woke up the following morning, it was swollen and blue, so I decided to go to the hospital, where I learned that I had a bone fracture. I had to have surgery two weeks later and am still wearing a cast a month after this adventure…


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