Quarry Lake Loop, just outside Canmore, is a short, easy hike around an impossibly picturesque lake. The lake is one of Canmore’s most popular attractions for locals and visitors. It is my favourite spot for an early morning hike or bike ride.
Why Quarry Lake Loop Is Special
Of all of Canmore’s attractions, Quarry Lake is probably my favourite. It is a beautiful lake with stunning panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, from the Three Sisters to Ha Ling Peak.
Quarry Lake hike is also easily accessible; it is short (just 1.1km), mainly flat and suitable for all fitness levels. It makes a perfect outing for young families, especially when combined with a picnic and a paddle in the lake.
Preparing For Your Walk
Head towards the Canmore Nordic Centre from Canmore to get to the Quarry Lake Loop trailhead. The turning for the parking lot is off Spray Lakes Road, around half a kilometre after the Three Sister Drive junction.
Look for an unsigned turn-off on your left that leads directly into the Quarry Lake parking lot. You’ve gone too far if you reach the reservoir and the Nordic Centre.
If you prefer to avoid driving, you can walk to Quarry Lake from downtown Canmore. It will take around 40 minutes and is uphill on the way out, but well worth the effort.
Parking At Quarry Lake
Quarry Lake parking lot has room for 60 vehicles, but parking can still be challenging in the summer months. I would suggest you get there early to secure a parking spot.
Canmore residents with a parking permit can enjoy up to three hours of daily parking at Quarry Lake, but note that time spent in paid zones at the Town Centre is also included in this time allowance.
The parking fee varies for visitors and residents without a pass. During the peak season, usually summer, it’s $20 for up to four hours; during off-peak times, it’s $10 for up to four hours.
Facilities And Amenities
The facilities at Quarry Lake Loop are excellent. There are two washroom blocks, one at either end of the lake. You will also find picnic tables and benches scattered around the park, where you can take a break and soak in the views.
Is Quarry Lake Trail Dog Friendly?
Dogs are not permitted around the lake itself, even on a leash. However, if you bring your furry friend along, an off-leash dog park can be found next to the car park.
This is a large area and one of just four off-leash areas in Canmore. Numerous signs around the lake clearly show where you can take your dog.
Best Time To Visit
The Quarry Lake Loop is accessible year-round but can get extremely busy in the summer. If you want to avoid the crowds, an early morning or late afternoon walk can provide a bit of solitude.
One of my favourite summer activities in Canmore is to bike up to the park and around the Quarry Lake Loop at sunrise. At this time of day, I usually have the lake to myself, and the water is calm and serene, reflecting the mountains like a mirror.
Walking The Quarry Lake Loop
You’ll follow a wide, flat gravel trail to the left from the parking lot. This trail leads past a few trees, and you will immediately see the lake. The trail which circles the lake is easy to follow, and you can walk in either direction.
If you are a keen photographer, you will probably find the best views on the lake’s left-hand (or east) side. One of my favourite photo spots is a small, elevated section mid-way along this side. I took the above photo at sunrise from this spot on the trail.
Insider Tips And Safety
As I mentioned above, the parking lot at Quarry Lake can fill quickly in the summer months, so it’s best to arrive early.
Regarding swimming, while Quarry Lake is great for kids due to its shallow sectioned-off areas, be warned: the water is icy cold!! It will take your breath away. And it is very deep, away from the edges.
It’s also crucial to note that walking or skating on Quarry Lake in winter is not advisable. The lake has methane pockets and variable ice thickness, making it unsafe for such activities.
Finally, remember you’re sharing this beautiful space with some of Canada’s most iconic wildlife, including grizzly bears, black bears, elk, and cougars. Generally, the most significant hazard is the elk.
I frequently see these in surrounding trees and even on Spray Lakes Road. Elk are unpredictable; the females are aggressive in the spring, and the males are aggressive in the fall, so keep your distance.
Other Nearby Attractions
If you enjoyed the Quarry Lake Loop and want something more challenging, check out the Grassi Lakes hike. The trailhead is a little further up Spray Lakes Road; you will find the parking lots around 1km beyond the Nordic Centre.
The area also has a vast network of hiking and biking trails, especially between Quarry Lake and the Nordic Centre.
In summary, Quarry Lake Loop offers an idyllic blend of natural beauty and convenience, making it one of the most visited spots around Canmore. Whether capturing the sunrise over the Rocky Mountains or enjoying a leisurely picnic by the lake, this trail provides a perfect Canmore experience.