Grassi Knob hike

Update: I’ve posted the GPS track for this hike Grassi knob track.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am going to post some hiking trips on this ski blog. It will help me stay in practice and keep the log-in and posting procedure fresh in  my mind while we’re waiting for another ski season to roll around.

Grassi Knob, a little-known but incredible hike

(Click on any of the below photos for a larger image)You’ve probably never even heard of this hike/scramble, but you see it whenever you drive past Canmore. It sits prominently in the shadow of Ship’s Prow, on the northeast slope of Mt Lawrence Grassi.

You may feel like a knob yourself if you attempt it without knowing precisely where you’re going. This hike/scramble is one I’ve been eyeing for a long time, and it turned out to be more fun  and rewarding than I expected.

The top of Grassi Knob, looking towards Banff

The elevation gain is about 750 metres, which is similar to the net elevation of the more popular Ha-Ling. Distance from the Highline trail trailhead at Hubman Landing is about 5K. I would venture to guess that not more than a dozen people hike up to the Knob every year. I enjoyed this much more than Ha-Ling. I guess for me, part of the fun was actually being able to find the route, and we never saw another human.

The Three Sisters were a spectacular sight from the top of Grassi Knob

Grassi Knob is a stone’s throw from the Three Sisters development in Canmore, but it is not easy to find the route as it’s not an official trail. The newest GemTrek map of Canmore and Kananaskis Village shows the peak, or knob, if you will and a few of the trails which you will be hiking on(Highline and Three Sisters pass).

I was able to read a trip report from a previous adventurer who attempted it. I am indebted to Bob Stebbins for these directions. The other thing that really helped was having a GPS. I set the destination before starting out, so it was always reassuring to know where I was in comparison to the goal. My GPS indicated a net elevation of 750 metres as opposed to Bob’s 650.

The view of Ship's Prow from near the top of Grassi Knob

There is one section along the way which is very counter-intuitive. You have to skirt around the east side of the hill, and start going up a ridge, which is not the ridge to the knob. You follow the trail down a drainage and up the other side in order to reach the proper ridge which takes you to the top. If you inadvertently take the original ridge all the way, you’ll end up under the face of Ship’s Prow, which is a nice hike too, but it will leave you in the wrong place.

To begin this hike, you should read this description of the start from Gillean Daffern:

The view of Grotto mountain from the top of Grassi Knob

Finding the old road according to Bob Stebbins directions could be difficult if you don’t know your way around back here. Also, if the creek is high, the rock-hopping could be a challenge and you may end up with a bootfull of cold water.  A more certain route will have you following the Highline trail all the way from Hubman Landing to Three Sisters Creek, then climbing the 1K of switchbacks(120 meter elevation gain) up to the old road. This is still the Highline trail and there is good signage.

At the top, you will turn left on the old road rather than going right along the Highline trail. In 400 metres you’ll encounter a rusted stove on the trail. A further 50 metres will bring you to an important intersection. Go right. This is the place where you will be on the same trail as in Bob Stebbins description.

The view as we head back down

Personally, I much prefer the route which Bob Stebbins follows, but it is more difficult to find. From the old stove corner, there is a reasonably good trail most the way until you reach the actual ridge which you’ll be climbing to the top. At this point, you’ve only got about 1K of climbing ahead of you, but it also entails an elevation gain of 350 metres, so it’s mighty steep.

It’s forested all the way, save the final 50 metres which is exposed rock. There’s a pile of stones at the very pinnacle of the knob and you have magnificent views of the Three Sisters, Canmore below, and the Bow Valley both east and northwest. Ship’s Prow will be staring you in the face to the south.

Here are the critical waypoints and their co-ordinates:

Start on the Highline trail at Hubman Landing:

N 51°03.144′
W 115°19.602′

Waypoint #2: This is where you’ll leave the Highline trail and head towards the old stove:

N 51°03.072′

W 115°20.781′

Waypoint #3: Stove corner

N 51°02.909′

W 115°20.586′

Waypoint #4

N 51°02.493′


Waypoint #5: This will put you on the actual ridge which you need to climb to the top

N 51°02.670′

W 115°21.091′

Top of Grassi Knob:

N 51°02.922′

W 115°21.630′


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  1. Thanks Bob for your May 15 posting re Grassi Knoll. It took us two attempts, and in both cases we failed to find the route across from the first ridge to the second (final) ridge to the summit that you took. The problem was the blazes mentioned in Bob Stebbins earlier report.

    On our second attempt (July 15) we simply followed the blazes all the way, and therefore stayed on the first ridge (ie the one where you say “you will end up in the wrong place”), and followed this on steep but open ground with good views all the way to the connecting ridge at the top between Ship’s Prow and Grassi Knoll. This brought us out about 40 meters above Grassi Knoll but it is an easy and pleasant walk down to it. We returned the same way, and thus avoided the side hill gouging that seems to be involved in traversing between the two ridges in your original route.

  2. Great that you are keeping your hand in re the website and the hiking trip reports are a huge bonus. Since finding your ski reports I have wondered if anyone will report their hikes somewhere in cyber space. Always pleased to hear of a new hiking route, particularly before everyone else finds it. Four of us were up DoorJam and Loder today (including Ray). For me, it was a first, and actually I only made DoorJam because we lost the route in the storm snow of the last two days. Lots of other people on the ridge with us.
    Will keep looking in on your summer wanderings. Safe travels!

  3. Thanks, Bob. I’ve wanted to try this one.

  4. Great hike Bob!

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