Cycling the Highline Trail – Canmore

NOTE: As of September 2021, Three Sisters Mountain Village is exercising private property rights and has posted NO TRESPASSING signs at the access point to East End of Highline Trail. It’s an evolving situation, covered by CBC News on September 4th. We hope that Alberta Parks and Three Sisters Mountain Village soon reach agreement on access to the Highline Trail. Stay tuned…

We did not set out to ride the increasingly well-known (and popular) Highline Trail today. But after cycling along the single-track connector to the powerline, heading towards the power dam at Grassi Lakes, we were turned back by volunteer park wardens, warning of grizzly, black bear and juvenile cougar sightings in the area. So we found ourselves at the trail sign in the off-leash dog park at Quarry Lake and who should ride up but Mrs. GeoKs’ brother! After a brief chat, we decided to tackle Highline…

…at least some of us did. Arriving at the West Connector, Youngest GeoKid decided it was too much for him on such a hot day, so that left Mrs. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid to head up the well-constructed trail. Mrs. GeoK soon concluded the grade and corners were beyond her limited experience, and she ended up pushing her bike at least three-quarters of the way. Oldest GeoKid, however, rode almost all the way, pushing only at a handful of the most difficult sections (i.e. steep downhill / switchback / steep uphill across a chute or creek bed).

Mrs. GeoK took advantage of the beautiful wildflowers to pause to take photographs:

Yellow petals of heart-leaved arnica flowers in full bloom along the Highline Trail
Patches of heart-leaved arnica provided a good excuse for Mrs. GeoK to stop for a short breather
Oldest GeoKid rides a gentle uphill section of Highline Trail
This is one of the gentler uphill sections on Highline, riding from the west connector, heading east

Also, since Mrs. GeoK had her handlebar-mounted GPSr, when the one and only geocache on the trail came into range, she convinced Oldest GeoKid to stop just long enough to hunt down GCQ836 On the Slopes of Ha-Ling. Hidden in August 2005, this is one of the oldest caches we’ve found in a while. The cache description is detailed and making use of the hint was essential, due to thick tree cover and the resulting signal bounce.

A glimpse of Canmore from the Highline Trail
One of a half dozen chutes / creek beds crossing the Highline Trail

Thanks to our family set of FSRs (walkie-talkies), we were in contact with Mr. GeoK and Youngest GeoKid throughout our ride. After stopping at the bench near the drop jump (just east of Pirate Creek) for a small snack, we headed into the final stretch (mostly downhill), finishing with the enjoyable easy section east of Three Sisters Creek. Thanks to Youngest GeoKid and radio communication, fruit juice freezies were ready and waiting for us when we finally arrived home.

Our total riding time was about 2 1/2 hours, well over the average time for experience cross-country mountain bikers. But, given this ride is considered physically difficult and technically moderate to challenging, we’re glad we made it to the end. Oldest GeoKid is ready to give it another try (after a few days rest), but Mrs. GeoK will be sending Mr. GeoK along with him until she accumulates more single-track experience!

5 thoughts on “Cycling the Highline Trail – Canmore

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