Grassi Lakes -- Aug 6, 2006

Elevation Gain: 200 meters (656 feet)

Climbed by: me, Cathy.

From Canmore, take the Spray Lakes road past the Canmore Nordic Center, and turn left just before the road turns to gravel. Descend to the parking lot, and find a spot to park. If the lot is full, park above the residential area along the side of the road.

Immediately behind the washrooms, you'll find the trailhead. Follow the trail for a short while, and you'll come to an important intersection. Here you need to decide if you want an easy walk or an enjoyable walk. The 'easy' route is just an access road with very little in the way of scenery, but if you are pushing a stroller, or have someone who can't do stairs, that's probably the way you'll want to go. Most people hopefully choose the 'more difficult' route which takes you alongside the valley/canyon, offers views of the waterfall, and is the path that Lawrence Grassi made. I'm not sure how many of the stone steps that are present were actually placed back in the 1920's when this trail was built, but surely some of them have survived being washed out over the years.

Follow the trail, and before you know it you come to a log bridge where the Grassi Lakes drain into the valley below. Just around the corner is the lower lake, and immediately behind that is the upper lake. Both lakes are an absolutely spectacular shade of blue/green, completely different from the man-made lakes above this point.

After looking at the water (and the small fish!), we started watching the sport climbers, of which there were many. We walked up the steep bit at the back of the lakes, up to the dam (another 75m, but steeper than the first 200). On the way down we saw some sport climbers doing an overhanging climb. That was fun to watch. Someday I'd like to take up rock climbing; it looks very fun (and very physical!). Cathy thinks I'm crazy, but I figure if I enjoy ice climbing, I'll probably enjoy rock climbing, too!

We took the 'easy' route down, and we both agreed that it was pretty lame compared to the slightly more difficult route. We passed no fewer than 50 people on their way up as we came down around noon. Good thing we got there as early as we did!

First pit-stop on the way up to the lakes.
Someone standing in the way of the beautiful waterfall!
One of the steeper bits, with switchbacks, even!
On to the next switchback!
Some stairs made of rock.
The reservoir at the base of the waterfall.
Some information about Lawrence Grassi, an all-around nice guy.
Someone asked us if we'd like a photo together -- why not!
The outlet of the lakes, from the log bridge.
A lagoon just above the drainage.
The lagoon, from the other side.
Lower Grassi Lake. What a neat colour!
Me, on the edge of the lake.
I forgot my fishing rod!
A look across the lower lake toward the upper lake.
The stream where the upper lake drains into the lower lake. I'm not completely sure where the water in the upper lake comes from. It must seep in from somewhere!
Upper Grassi Lake.
Another little fish!
The upper lake from alongside the rock wall. This angle really brings out the colours and the features at the bottom of the lake.
A hidey-hole for bears, probably caused by water erosion.
Grassi Lakes from the climbers platform slightly above.
A look down the valley from the first dam above the lakes.
Me again.
Crazy sport climber finishing up an overhanging climb.
From the parking lot, we were just above where the Big Pipe ends.