55 mins west of Calgary is an amazing hike that has been dedicated to an Italian immigrant Lawrence Grassi who arrived in the Rockies in 1912. He was an accomplished miner, but an even more accomplished climber. He was a small, handsome man, but was always respected as a fiercely brave and strong mountaineer. Lawrence was responsible for creating most of the famous hikes in the Canmore area. He reportedly climbed some of the most challenging peaks over 50 times and once even carried down a fellow injured climber on his back and across a glacier rather than leave him unattended. An amazing feat.
One of my very favorite hikes is one dedicated to him…Grassi Lakes. Basically this hike has it all…views…views, views…a hard way, and and easy way. Two emerald, aquamarine ultra clear mountain lakes…thundering waterfall, an ancient coral reef that is now a climbers paradise…and ancient native pictographs…whew! All in one hike! I love this hike and recommend it to anyone who visits Canmore, (especially in late June when all the wild flowers are in bloom).
This is a great hike for all ages and perfect for a family. Easily done in a morning or afternoon. Super easy to find too…Basically drive to the Canmore Nordic Centre and instead of turning right into that parking lot…drive another 500M and turn left into the parking lot for the Grassi Lakes interpretive area. There are two routes to take, Hard and Easy…both are quite manageable, but I recommend going the hard way up, as climbing up some of the steeper rocky stairs when wet is easier than climbing down. The hard way runs along the ridge of the mountain and allows for amazing view of the waterfall and breathtaking view of the Bow Valley on your way up.
Tons of natural springs run here right into late summer, so make sure you wear sturdy, waterproof shoes. The lakes are fantasy like, very deep small lakes that are as clear as glass, but in every blue green jewel tone you have ever seen. Quite a magical experience. Once you get to the very top of the interpretive hike, which involves lots of different paths, wood bridges and natural rock steps…the view is awesome and to the north the gigantic porous mountain, (that usually has a climber or two hanging off the side), quite clearly shows it’s original purpose as an ancient Coral Reef. It has fossilized into the massive, porous, sponge looking stone it is today. Sport climbers love it here, and they are fun to watch…Grassi is just so cool! Science and nature collide. There is many spots to picnic, by one of the lakes is always my favorite!