Grotto Canyon is a really easy short hike just outside of Canmore that takes you through a small canyon leading to waterfalls, hoodoos, pictographs, and a small cave.. Bryson and I stopped by Grotto Canyon last year on our way out of Banff; we always try to fit in a quick easy hike while leaving the mountains before we have to head home. This place is perfect for that!
To get there head out about 12 minutes from Canmore on highway 1A and turn into the Grotto Lake parking lot (it's right after the Baymag plant #2). The trail head starts from that parking lot, the beginning is a bit blah as it follows power lines and you hear the sounds from the plant as you walk passed it, but the rest of the trail is amazing- so power through!
While reading up on how to get here a few sites recommended going with guide to have them point out the pictographs because they're hard to find, and it's true! I looked at every rock face as I passed by and didn't see anything, it wasn't until our way out while trying to avoid getting in some ice climber's way that I looked to the side and spotted them! So, remember this picture above because they're on that wall, to the left of that snow pile, about chest - head height. This is the last turn right before the canyon opens up to waterfalls.
These are the Native pictographs, estimated to be anywhere from 500-1000 years old, very cool! They are also fading quite a bit which makes them harder to spot. Be sure not to touch them as the oils in your skin will make them fade faster.
Once we got to the falls we chilled for a bit and watched some ice climbers do their thing before turning back. There was a snowfall warning and we didn't get wanted to get stuck in the that (we ended up being stuck on the QEII for several hours anyways), but if you continue passed the waterfalls you'll make your way to some hoodoos and a cave. They both seem worth checking out, but we didn't want to chance it. There was also a group of 15+ people huddled together at all times with a single selfie stick blocking the trail soo...
Grotto Canyon is definitely worth checking out! It's especially good for beginners or a family outing. We'd recommend wearing ice cleats for this since you're walking on ice for most of the trail and it can get slippery. Be sure to check the trail status here before heading out, too. If any of you have hiked here before let us know if you've found anything freaky in the cave (bear, cougar, sasquatch, etc.)!