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Rockies :: Canmore :: Grassi Knob

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Grassi Knob and Three Sisters from Bow BridgeGrassi Knob and Three Sisters from Bow Bridge
View from Bow Bridge to Three Sisters; Grassi knob is the bump just to the right of Big Sister

Abstract

Overall Difficulty D4 Easy scrambling in drainage followed by very steep trail with several steps that requires use of hands.
Snow Factor S3 Forest enclosed slopes with low avalanche danger. Steep snowshoe objective; not feasible on skis
Scenery Superb "in-your-face" view of Three Sisters from the summit.  Good panorama of Bow Valley. Towering Wall of Canmore -- Ship's Prow, Lawrence Grassi and Ha Ling/Miner's Peak
Trail/Marking Good Wide and marked access via Highline connector, followed by reasonably well defined and occasionally flagged trail.  Drainage junction is not obvious and easy to miss.
Suggested Time 3-4 hr Return time if starting from Peaks of Grassi
Elevation Start: 1370m     Max: 2170m     Total: ~800m Round Trip: 5km (from Quarry Lake)
Gear Light hikers should be enough.  Hiking poles essential for stability.  Icers and/or snowshoes in winter conditions
Water Dry hike. Carry at least 2L
Dog Friendly Yes No on-leash restrictions

 

Gallery

Quarry Lake enroute to Grassi KnobQuarry Lake enroute to Grassi Knob   Grassi Knob (right of Big Sister) from Quarry Lake

Ship's Prow from Grassi KnobShip's Prow from Grassi Knob Ship's Prow about 15 minutes from the summit Three Sisters from Grassi KnobThree Sisters from Grassi Knob View of Three Sisters from the summit Bow Valley from Grassi KnobBow Valley from Grassi Knob Panoramic view of Bow Valley from the summit

Summary

Grassi Knob is relatively unknown Canmore hike. It appears as bump below Ship's Prow when seen from Bow Bridge.  It is possible to ascend on the east side starting from Hubman Landing, but usual approach is from the west via East Highline connector. Summit affords phenomenal in-your-face view of Three Sisters, as well as panoramic vista of entire Bow valley.  Although it qualifies as good after-work objective from Canmore, it is not trivial -- ascent is steep with considerable amount of elevation gain. 

 

Most direct access is from Peaks of Grassi neighborhood in south Canmore; there should be enough street parking.  If coming on foot, walk up standard Quarry lake trail from Bow bridge, then continue for ~1km on Powerline trail. East Highline connector climbs gently for about 30 minutes; watch for mountain bikes.  Upon reaching marked junction with Highline trail turn left and cross wide drainage within a minute. This drainage provides access to forested slopes of Grassi Knob.  Look for trail on east side immediately after you cross drainage; it is faint and turnoff might not be marked.  This trail ascends steeply for few minutes, then descends to the creek. This is the critical point as there are 2 possible options.  Good trail switchbacks to the left but soon becomes brutally steep and requires constant use of hands.  Descending this way would be very awkward.  Alternative is continuing up the canyon bed - it might not be feasible during spring runoffs.  Going this way is not cake walk either; there are couple of steeper steps on slick rock, but they can by bypassed on the climber left.  About 15 minutes from Highline leave the canyon and pick up good trail heading up on the left side. Both alternatives soon join; this junction is flagged. Rest is obvious - up, up and then some more up. Halfway there is bit of flat bench, but grade soon resumes.  Section with minor deadfall is crossed in upper part where it is possible to temporarily lose the trail, but direction is obvious. Finally about 10-15 minutes before the summit trees thin out allowing good view back to Bow corridor while Ship's Prow towers on the right side. Three Sisters are hidden for now. Final summit block is bypassed on the left (north) side; odd snow patch usually lingers here till late in the spring.  Upon reaching east side, trail turns sharply right and climbs final few meters to rounded summit.  East Ridge route joins here as well.

It is possible to extend the hike for another 20-30 minutes by continuing on semi-forested slopes south to  Ship's Prow.  Several climbing routes start from the base.  You can also study conditions on Big Sister;  it should be snow free for normal Kane scramble access.  It also appears feasible to follow drainage directly below Lawrence Grassi for alternate access from north side, but this route has plenty of scrambling and route finding and thus can not be recommended.

 

Return the same way, or see descriptions below for alternate East Ridge route.  If you have never been on East Ridge this is not recommended as there is little trail and many confusing junctions lower down - better to ascend this way first time around.  Eventually you would reach Highline Trail and follow west to your starting point.


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Three Sisters Creek Route (East Ridge)

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Highline Trail just before crossing of Three Sisters Creek

Old Bench Road / Highline junction, looking back

East ridge trail branches right from Old Bench Road

View of Little Sister from clearing on East Ridge

East Ridge route starts from Hubman Landing at top of Three Sisters Drive (exit 93 from Trans-Canada highway).  This is also east terminus of Highline Trail. Follow Highline for about 20-25 minutes to bridged crossing of Three Sisters Creek and continue for another km to junction with Old Bench Road. This will be second junction past the creek; old overgrown road joins from the left (east) - pic 2 in the gallery.  Highline marker is here.  Turn left into Old Bench and follow for short time only (5-10 minutes). There is some deadfall here to contend with; conditions will vary between the seasons. Bushy trail comes in from the right side - pic 3 in the gallery.  Follow this trail up.  It becomes less defined higher up so pay attention. Eventually it switchbacks left, then right and approaches cliff band; most overgrown part is right here.  At base of cliffs look for good trail on the left side -- all route finding problems are now behind you.  This trail contours east for another 10-15 minutes. When you reach set of orange flags trail vanishes; this is the beginning of east ridge route.  Turn right and head up. There is no more trail, but forest is open and going straighforward;  you might be able to stumble upon old faded flag or two as well. Higher up bypass bit of peeling cliff on the left side - there is cairn and good view of Little Sister above - pic 4 in gallery.  Bits of trail now appear again and you join West Ridge (normal) route just below the summit.

 

If coming down this way, key is to watch for set of flags at start of east ridge in order to be able to pick-up trail that descends to Old Bench Road.  It is also possible to trash all the way to Three Sisters Creek directly, but this is quite awkward lower down and better avoided.