Three Sisters Multi-Use Pathway

The Three Sisters Pathway, which runs connects the Canmore town centre to the Three Sisters neighbourhood to the east, is a mostly-paved, multi-use pathway shared by walkers, runners and cyclists.

Access

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.
  • 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 thanks to the small bistro on the ground floor. Hours vary depending on the season, so you might want to check their 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.

Route

Chinook sculpture, beside the Bow River near the Mineside Trailhead.

Chinook sculpture, beside the Bow River near the Mineside Trailhead.

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.

There’s a short hill just beyond West Canmore Park, so 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.

The Bow River viewed from the embankment at Prospect Heights.

The Bow River viewed from the embankment at Prospect Heights.

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.

View west along the Bow River from where the pathway changes from gravel to pavement.

View west along the Bow River from where the pathway changes from gravel to pavement.

Looking west across the meadow towards Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain.

Looking west across the meadow towards Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain.

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.

Grotto Mountain viewed from just above the spring-fed pond.

Grotto Mountain viewed from just above the spring-fed pond.

There are several coal mining artifacts located just off the pathway across from the spring-fed pond.

There are several coal mining artifacts located just off the pathway across from the spring-fed pond.

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.

View from the top of the switchbacks east of the meadow and spring-fed pond.

View from the top of the switchbacks east of the meadow and spring-fed pond.

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 almost to the Stewart Creek golf course.

Summary

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.

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