Rocky Mountain Hikes: Ha Ling Peak

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Ha Ling Peak
Trail Length: 6 km return (1-2hrs up, 45-90mins down)
Elevation Gain: 819 m
Ages: Kids with serious skills and determination (10+)

Ha Ling Peak is a part of Mount Lawrence Grassi hovering next to the Three Sisters overlooking Canmore. Until 1997 it was known as Chinaman Peak, when the name was changed due to the unsavoury nature of the original title.

Ha Ling was a cook for the Canadian Pacific Railway and, in 1896, was bet he couldn’t climb the peak in 10 hours. The day of the bet, he left in the morning and was back for lunch.

To get to the base of Ha Ling Peak, head past the Canmore Nordic Centre, and the base of Grassi Lakes Trail. Continue for a few kilometres on the gravel road (Smith-Dorrien-Spray Lake Trail) and park in the Goat Creek day use parking lot. The trailhead is across the road and the reservoir next to the green hut.

This was awesome. A straight up 90 minute march from the Spray Lakes Reservoir to the top of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a hike very similar to the Grouse Grind, or Stawamus Chief in Vancouver, but this one is a little more technical.

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Just a 60 minute drive from the edge of Calgary, Ha Ling Peak looks over Canmore and is a popular place for hikers, and workout junkies alike.

While I saw a few people just in shorts and tshirts, many more took the hike more seriously with bear spray, and hiking poles. Because 1/3 of the hike is in the steep scree of scattered rocks above the tree line, the hiking poles are a very good idea. They were vital in bracing me back down the very steep slope.

If you’re not into the 3k trail up the back side of Ha Ling Peak, go up the front. There are rock climbing anchors all the way up, and a couple just summitted as I arrived.

This is the highest I’ve ever climbed from sea level before, it’s not quite Mt Everest, but being above the trees, and seeing the expanse of the Rockies from the top of one of the peaks had me marveling at the wonder that is Calgary’s backyard.

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