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 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.
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. http://kananaskisblog.com/forum/trip-reports/grassi-knob/. 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.
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: http://kananaskisblog.com/start-three-sisters-creek/2010/
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.
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:
Waypoint #2: This is where you’ll leave the Highline trail and head towards the old stove:
Waypoint #3: Stove corner
Waypoint #5: This will put you on the actual ridge which you need to climb to the top
Top of Grassi Knob: