Grotto Creek Canyon hike follows a path through a canyon to three small, but beautiful waterfalls. The water coming down the falls varies from year to year, ranging from a drop to a steady stream. In the winter, the falls are much more impressive as the water collects over time to create three large majestic frozen waterfalls known to ice climbers in the area as His, Hers and Grotto Falls.
Heart Creek Trail and Grassi Lakes Trail are stunning nearby trails that are challenging but manageable for kids. Many Springs and Flowing Water Interpretive Trail are easier trails that are fun to add in if you have extra time or as an alternative if your family is looking for an easier adventure.
Grotto Creek Canyon
Difficulty: Challenging (for little feet)
Distance: 4.2 km (2.6 mi) out and back
Elevation: 110 m (328 ft)
Hike Highlights: 500-1000 year old Petroglyphs, Canyon, Mountain Views, Waterfall,
Amenities: Outhouse, Picnic Tables
Optional Gear: Child carrier, Ice Cleats in winter
TrailRider Rating: Challenging
This family friendly hike is more spectacular in the winter because of the frozen waterfalls His, Hers and Grotto Falls that form. Ice cleats are recommended in the winter as it can be very slippery. On warm winter days, the creek and snow can become too slushy to traverse the trail.
From the Trans Canada Highway AB-1 W take exit 91. Turn left onto Highway AB-1A and continue the five minutes to the Grotto Falls parking lot on the left side of the highway.
From Grotto Falls parking lot look for the Grotto Falls Trail sign on the west or left-hand side. There is another small parking lot further west up the Highway AB-1A located up a small hill. The trail goes through this parking lot and can make the trail a little shorter.
Grotto Falls, near Canmore, Alberta, is another challenging hike for little kids. The trail is difficult in the summer due to the longer distance and rocks to traverse. In the winter, the ice and snow can make the trail extremely slippery and therefore more challenging.
Follow the kid friendly trail as it slowly climbs up from the parking lot through the trees. After about one km of hiking parallel to the Highway AB-1A, head right, or north, up to the creek bed. Most years, the creek bed will be dry and you can hike directly up it with the canyon walls on either side of you. In the winter, the creek is frozen and snow covered so you can hike on the creek.
Keep a lookout for the petroglyphs on the rock wall as you make your way through the canyon. Do not touch the 500-1000 year old petroglyphs as the oil from your hands will make them disappear faster. Continue hiking until you reach the waterfalls.
In the summer, the falls are not much of a spectacle and are often a trickle of water that slowly descends the side of the canyon walls. In the winter, the waterfalls His, Her and Grotto Falls are far more impressive and occasionally, ice climbers will be scaling the frozen falls. After arriving at
your destination, return the way you came.
Drive into Canmore and spend time exploring the shops. Stop by the Bow River and enjoy a picnic alongside the water. For some extra playtime, head to one of the playgrounds and enjoy the mountain views while the kids play.
Want more 45+ kid-friendly hikes like this one?
PRE-ORDER the paperback book Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.
Purchase (Ebook) Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.