Snowshoeing the Bow Valley – Highline Trail, Canmore

In Canmore for another winter weekend, we headed out to a packed trail along side Three Sisters Creek. Once we crossed the little footbridge, we decided to snowshoe a well-groomed trail rather than continuing along the banks of the creek to the old dam. Within a couple hundred meters, we spotted a bright blue signpost indicating we were on the Highline Trail in the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park. Well-maintained, the trail showed evidence of recent use by cyclists – knobby tire tracks in the snow!

Over a series of switchback curves, we gained about 150 m elevation. As relative newcomers to mountain biking, we’d find the terrain challenging in summer. And there were a few narrow spots where – if you missed a little jump, or landed badly – we saw the potential to get up close and personal with large trees! One such spot was marked by an inukshuk…

Trail marker on the Highline Trail

About 2.5 km into our snowshoe trek, we spotted a bench beside the trail. Since this spot doesn’t afford any views of the Bow Valley or surrounding mountains, we took a look around, wondering “why here?” Glancing up the hill, the reason was obvious – a jump structure for bikes! The bench is ideally placed to see some crazy bike jumping, so we plan to return when the snows off the trails to see some of the local riders demonstrate their talent.

Resting spot on the Highline Trail

Just after we turned around, we had to step off the trail and make way for four oncoming cyclists, enjoying a couple hours riding on the outskirts of Canmore. Back home, a little online research, coupled with a quick look at Gem Trek’s “Canmore and Kananaskis Village” map, revealed that the Highline Trail opened August 2009. We were on the 2.8 km stretch from the East Connector to Three Sisters Creek. From the East Connector, it’s possible to complete a 7.2 km loop, so there’s a lot more of the Highline Trail for us to explore.

The trail was built by Kananaskis Trail Crew staff and Friends of Kananaskis volunteers over a period of three years. It was carefully designed to avoid private land and travel above wildlife corridors. The Gem Trek trail description indicates the Highline Trail offers great view across the valley, so there must be some open viewing spots on the loop section of the trail. We look forward to checking them out later this year.

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