An Afternoon Escape: The Grotto Canyon Ice Walk

Nov 23, 2015 | 0 comments

Sometimes it’s the spontaneous trips that are the best.

Today we had a late start, and thought perhaps we’d better doing something active. We’d looked into the Grotto Canyon ice walk before, and figured that, as it’s walking up a river bed, it might be better to wait for it to freeze over a little bit. After a cold week, today finally seemed to be the ideal day for it; blue skies, and a mild 8 degrees. Perfect for a short adventure into the mountains.

This hike is actually one of the closer mountain walks to Calgary (roughly 40 minutes away – directions at the bottom!), and, surprisingly, it started right behind one of the large factories on the 1A. The last place you’d expect!

After parking at the end of a short snow covered track, we followed the track behind the refinery until it diverted northwards into the forest.

Trail up into the mountainsThe first part of the trail winds its way through the trees until you reach a clearing with an incredible view of the valley. Definitely worth stopping for a photo or two.

Forest walk
View of the valley

This is the start of the canyon hike in ernest, and where the winding narrow path heads up into the mountains (Honestly, this is a super easy hike with barely any elevation at all, and we saw a ton of young kids and tiny dogs having a great time along the way).

heading off into the Canyon

The walk up the canyon is absolutely stunning and it was a completely different experience to the usual mountain hikes we’d been used to.

Lou walking Grotto Canyon river
Lou walking Grotto Canyon

After about 20 minutes of hiking, we finally reached the first awesome feature; a frozen waterfall (obviously we stopped for photos 🙂 ).

Lou ice waterfall Grotto Canyon

The path seemed to fork at the waterfall, and we decided to opt for the left path.

Rob ice waterfall Grotto Canyon

It started to wind up the mountain again, a little steeper than before, and then suddenly we were in a much bigger clearing again. We didn’t really know what to expect at this point, but there was still one final surprise! A huge hoodoo with an amazing cave in the centre. Definitely was worth checking out if you can get yourself up there!

Lou Hoodoo cave

After a few pictures, it was back the way we came and a race against the setting sun! Not a bad way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, and a great walk if you’re looking for something relaxing but beautiful.


Take exit 114 off the Transcanada and head towards the 1A. Once you’re on the 1A, follow the road about 11km towards Canmore, and take the exit on the right one after the Grotto Lake exit. You’ll know you’re there when you think you’re about to drive into a factory.

Written byRobin

About us

About us

Hi, we’re Rob and Louise! We’re obsessed with travel and love to share our adventures! We’re a UK/Canadian couple that currently lives Banff, Canada.


You May Also Like…



  1. Staying Active in Winter YYC | EliteYYC.COM - […] than the gas to get you there. Walking in the mountains is always free. Check out our posts on…
  2. Christmas in Banff: Planning a Memorable Holiday | EliteYYC.COM - […] check out two of the most popular winter walks in the area; The Johnston Canyon ice walk, or the…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *