The Three Sisters Pathway, which connects Canmore town centre to the Three Sisters neighbourhood to the east, is a mostly-paved, multi-use pathway shared by walkers, runners and cyclists.
There are several points of access if you’re looking to park and ride/walk/run:
- Your best option at the town end is to turn east into the smallish parking lot just south of the Bridge Road bridge over the Bow River. This parking lot is at the Mineside Trailhead. If you’re in need of rustic bathroom facilities, cross the bridge towards town, cross the street at the pedestrian-controlled crosswalk at the town end of the bridge and there’s a multi-stall toilet facility just off the gravel riverside trail (construction completed in early 2021).
- One option at the Three Sisters end is the fairly spacious lot behind Mountaineers Village at 75 Dyrgas Gate. If you need to pick up some water or want a bite to eat before hitting the trail, this is your better option at the Three Sisters end. There’s a small pharmacy and a small bistro on the ground floor. Hours vary depending on the season, so check the bistro website in advance.
- Also at the Three Sisters end is the small parking lot at the playground located just southwest of the intersection of Three Sisters Blvd and Riva Heights. This might be your better option if you have young kids along. There is a porta-potty on site.
From the town end, the first two km or so is gravel. Depending on the season and recent weather, it can be muddy. For part of each spring, the stretch through West Canmore Park can be challenging due to massive puddles. There’s a playground in the park and pit toilets, if needed. Note that the Chinook sculpture (pictured) was removed in 2019 because it was not built to withstand an outdoor installation. There is a low-profile, made of natural materials labyrinth in West Canmore Park that can be fun for kids.
There’s a short hill just beyond West Canmore Park, so if you’re cycling, be ready to gear down a bit. From the top of that hill it’s a straight, wide stretch. Watch for the train marker a few hundred meters beyond so you don’t miss the left turn towards the Bow River.
Continuing on dirt/gravel, the pathway runs along the top of the embankment on the south side of the Bow River, with some impressive homes in Prospect Heights on the other side of the path.
From the point where the Bow River takes a sharp turn towards the north, the pathway is paved. You’ll be riding between the Bow River and a large meadow where wildflowers bloom from late spring into summer.
The pathway turns sharply right to navigate around an odorous spring (mostly drainage from old coal mines) that feeds a bright turquoise pond that drains into the Bow River.
Just past the spring there’s a short uphill section, made easier thanks to a couple of switchbacks. A couple of hundred meters later, you’ll lose the elevation you just gained over a longer series of switchbacks.
The pathway runs fairly straight through mixed forest to a trail intersection. If you prefer more winding, dirt trails, take the Riverside trail option. If you prefer pavement you’ll head up behind the Cairns. The trails reconnect at a pedestrian crossing that’s the safest spot to cross the Three Sisters Parkway.
Across the parkway, the paved trail continues roughly west and then turns south and begins climbing to a small wooden bridge across Three Sisters Creek. At the bridge, continue on the paved trail for the easiest route to the Mountaineers Village parking lot. If you’re looking to extend your ride or parked at the playground, head up the rough dirt path immediately east of the wooden bridge.
The dirt track reconnects with paved pathway several hundred meters along and from there you can ride on paved pathway through the Stewart Creek subdivision and the end of the current development envelope in Canmore.
Beginning 2019, Canmore introduced free local transit on ROAM bus route 5. It runs about every half hour during peak hours and about every hour during non-peak/weekend hours. So if you are unsure about your ability to walk there and back, feel comfortable planning to walk just one way and then catch ROAM bus 5 back to where you parked. This is also a great option if you don’t want to deal with the bumper-to-bumper traffic that is – unfortunately – often a summer reality in downtown Canmore.
Total distance – anywhere from 13.5 to 17+ km (return), depending on your turnaround point.
Elevation gain – a hundred meters, tops
If you’re into geocaching, there are quite a few geocaches hidden along this pathway, many of them hidden by us. Mr. GeoK worked hard on a mix of creative hides to encourage more people to explore the Three Sisters Pathway, one of our favourite routes in and around Canmore. Hope to see you on the trail!
The Town of Canmore website includes other trail options and some decent maps.