Reliving our Spring Break trip in Banff, our first hike was to Johnston Canyon (where we had our encounter with a yuppie pig) and our second was to Grotto Canyon. How could we NOT want to hike somewhere called the “Grotto”? It was a beautiful sunny early spring day. You know, one of those ones where the chill is still in the air, but the sun is finally warm on your skin?? It’s the best kind of weather!!
To get to Grotto canyon, we had to drive about a 15 minute drive from our condo in Banff. If you’re familiar with the area, it is closest to the town of Canmore.
The canyon is actually a creek bed, and during the winter months, the hike is actually on the frozen over Grotto Creek! We had to have our ice clamps on our hiking boots, so make sure you have something for grip if you’re doing this hike in the winter.
The start of the trail is not through the nicest of areas. It goes right past the property of a mineral processing plant (and it’s loud) and past a gravel pit. But, once you are through this area, the actual hike up through the canyon is pretty.
Along the way up the creek, on the limestone, there are pictographs left from the Hopi people and according to my readings, they look to be about 500-1300 years old. There are many different images that you can see on the cliff, but the one that Paul captured below was the most prolific.
When we got to the end of the creek, or the start, depending on how you look at it, there was a large frozen waterfall of ice. It is a popular ice climbing area and the amount of divots left along the way up the waterfall were evidence of many, many climbers.
If you continue the hike past the waterfall, it opens up into alpine like area. About a 500-750 meters from the waterfall, the view opens up to expose hoodoos and a large cave, most likely created from water/runoff. The trail continues a couple of kilometers more, but we did not have time to continue climbing. It’s definitely something I would like to do in the summer, as the upper alpine area is beautiful!
The Grotto Canyon Ice Walk is definitely something neat to experience in the cold of winter. I would definitely do it again!!