From Canmore, head past the Nordic Centre and continue on Highway 742. This turns into a gravel road, known as the Smith-Dorrien Highway. Keep your eyes open for a parking lot on your right named “Goat Creek”.
Total Gain: 885m
|Type of Hike||Out and Back|
|When to Do||May through October|
The Ha Ling trail will be re-routed in 2018. This means that heavy equipment will be on site completing trail realignment. There may be intermittent full-mountain closures during this time.
Take the Smith Dorrien highway from the Canmore Nordic Centre to the Goat Creek parking lot. From here, cross the road and climb up the embankment to the canal. Take the bridge across the canal, quickly pass a stone marker and enter the forest.
The path through the forest is well worn, reflecting the popularity of the hike – traveled virtually every month of the year. Ascend following the path, choosing whichever route feels safest for you. At times you will have large slippery tree-root systems to navigate and/or slippery rocks.
The first 1.5km do not offer many views and are very steep, gaining 350m quite quickly. Thankfully, after 1.5km, you will start to get glimpses through the trees into the surrounding peaks, with the view fully opening up after 2.1km. At this point, you will have climbed over 500m.
As you round the bend there is a wonderful view up at the peak. Although seemingly distant, it’s just fewer than 300m above you. As you continue higher, the trees get smaller and then disappear as you move above the tree line. Continue in the direction of a visible saddle, following the well-worn trail. On your left is Ha Ling and to your right is Miners Peak and Three Humps.
For this hike, head along the path to the right and ascend Miners Peak and the Three Humps. On windy days you can usually find a good lunch spot out of the wind over here. We particularly like this route, as the views are so unique. Also, from the vantage point of Miners Peak, Ha Ling appears formidable.
Retrace your steps down to the saddle and head up the daunting Ha Ling. Head uphill to Ha Ling, following any of the various trails, though not too close to the edge. The wind is typically much stronger here than it is in the trees. Trekking poles are handy to help with the scree and rocks. Finally, at the top, there are some rock windbreaks to your far left. Take care on the edge, as it is a long fall down the other side. You may see a few climbers pop their heads over, as this is a popular climbing spot. Please don’t throw anything over the side.
The way back down can be done by retracing your steps. However, if you are comfortable with scree skiing, you can take the quicker route. Return along your uphill for 200-300m and then when the scree looks good, take a right and head directly downhill. There are some good bands of scree that will make your descent much easier and quicker. Scree skiing is easier and safer with trekking poles for balance. When you are at the bottom of the scree, you may have to head left to rejoin the trail.
The remainder of the way downhill is a steep, toe-jamming affair. A few people will likely ask you on the ascent “how much farther?”
- BRING TREKKING POLES. This is a popular, eroded hike that is also very steep, gaining almost 800m in 2.9km. Poles will help with balance on the way up and take the strain off of your knees on the way down.
- Pick-up some French pastries or a baguette at Le Fournil for your snack break. You will feel like you are in the Alps as you savor a delicious treat on the summit.
- Prepare for a windy summit and bring a jacket. Even if the weather is great in Canmore, expect a gusty peak.
- This trail is often snow free, so if others are snowbound, give this a go.