Grotto via Cougar Canyon - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 04:03 AM Thread Starter
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Default Grotto via Cougar Canyon

Grotto Mtn is well-known Canmore landmark with several routes up, documented in various hiking guidebooks. They include: 1) ACC route (usual Kane approach) 2) "Big gully" (alternate Kane approach starting from ACC clubhouse as well and better option) and 3) Carter route (described in Daffern K-country trail guide, orange, vol 3 4th ed, trip 74). Described here is 4th option; it is by margin superior to most popular ACC route (I haven't done Carter route). To my knowledge it is not documented in other guidebooks & I discovered it by chance by taking after dinner walk in Cougar creek environs earlier this summer. It follows gentle ridge rising from Cougar creek. Tracks on Google Earth:

[Left leg is ascent; on return I took ACC route, then returned back to Cougar creek with Horseshoe biking trail]

[Ascent ridge from Cougar creek -- gently slanting left to right partially treed slope]

Crux is finding where trail starts; it is not marked, and it is not obvious. Instead of trying to describe, I will have GPS track for download -- look for Waypoint "1 - Trailhead". There is alternate, bit more adventurous start available as well. For this one hike up Cougar Canyon for ~10-15 minutes past the berm fence erected post 2013 floods. When you come to first big gully coming down Grotto on right (east) side, leave the canyon and scramble up on left side; you should be able to pick-up fairly decent trail. This trail eventually dwindles and you must cross the drainage then short bit of bushwhack brings you to "Cougar trail" running up the ridge (about 1/4 of the way up). I have built the cairn earlier this summer & was pleased to see it was still there, as this trail does see some traffic.

Trail up the ridge is exceptionally nice. Never really steep, and nowhere as eroded as ACC route. Forest is open and grants very good views of Lady Mac and Bow Valley. About halfway up you have good view of remainder of the ascent:
[Halfway up "Cougar ridge"]

[Looking down to Cougar creek from mid-point of ascent ridge]


[Lady Mac across the Cougar Canyon. Site of abandoned Teahouse is clearly visible]


Higher up several short cliff bands bar the way. This is the most enjoyable part of the ascent, as it grants some very enjoyable hands-on scrambling. It is optional, as good trail with frequent cairns bypasses to the left. Eventually this trail intersects ACC trail just above treeline. This junction is not obvious if you don't know about it. Rest of the route is standard Kane ridgewalk well known by now. Best is to stay right on the crest of the ridge; only one point requires bit of hands-on (class 2). Couple of pics:
[Grotto ridge; stay on the crest. Summit is about 30 minutes away, upper right corner]

[Grotto summit looking down to Lac De Arcs; Carter route comes from this side]

[Looking back to Grotto ridge; with last rays of sun just about to set behind Rundle massif]

There is about 1300 vertical & 13-14 km. For fit person comfortable descending with headlamp this is very good after-work hike from Canmore, as whole trip can be done in ~5 hours

Alternate write-up with high-res photos, map and downloadable GPS track here
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martin, vern.dewit and Trail Talk like this.

Last edited by zeljkok; 10-16-2015 at 12:19 AM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 04:23 PM
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Is it just me, or does it look like you were at the top quite late in the day?
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 01:56 AM
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Some really beautiful pictures here.

Love the crisp look of those peaks !


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