The Three Sisters viewpoint trail is a short walk of around 1.1 kilometres. At the trail’s end is a clearing with a pond that is so still it mirrors the surrounding landscape.
From here, you will have a breathtaking view of the Three Sisters, and everything lines up perfectly for you to capture them reflected in the pond. Some of my best pictures of these mountains were taken from this point.
How To Get To The Three Sisters Viewpoint
If you stay at the south end of Bow Valley Trail, you can easily walk to the trailhead. The closest vacation accommodation is just a 10-minute walk away. It is around a 30-minute walk from downtown Canmore; if you are walking from here, the most attractive route is along Policeman’s Creek Trail.
From Canmore, head south on Highway 1A (aka Bow Valley Trail). Just before the turnoff for the southbound Highway 1, you will see a small gravel car park on your left. This is the Off Leash Dog Area parking lot.
What To Expect Of The Three Sisters Viewpoint Trail
The Three Sisters trail is straightforward to follow. It isn’t very well defined in places, but you can’t go wrong so long as you follow the rocky bed of the creek. The walk has a pretty boring start as you pass two uninspiring bridges.
The first is the road bridge; you can cross the road or go under the bridge. Going underneath the bridge will involve a short scramble down the rocky side of the creek.
The second is a railway bridge. Walk under the railway bridge, then follow the path on the left side of the creek. The trail disappears in places, but stay close to the creek, and you will be fine. Most of the year, the creek bed is dry so that you can walk along the bottom.
After around 200 metres, you will reach an intersection where the creek forks to the left and a small path forks to the right. You can take either route (as they form a small loop), but I usually follow the creek to the left. The Three Sisters’ viewpoint is 50-100 metres ahead.
As you reach the clearing, the trees fall away, revealing a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains and the Three Sisters (Faith, Hope and Charity).
The pond’s water level varies according to the time of year and recent rainfall. If the pond looks dry when you arrive, head to the right; there is usually enough water on this side to get a good reflection.
The obvious photo opportunity is of the Three Sisters reflected in the pond. However, another good shot is of Ha Ling Peak, which you can also capture reflected in the water.
The Best Time To Visit Three Sisters Viewpoint
For photographers, the best times of day to visit are shortly after sunrise and just before sunset when the colours are richer and can be very dramatic. Taking photos in the middle of the day can be tricky as the sun will be behind the three mountains.
When is the best time of year to visit the Three Sisters viewpoint? Autumn is my favourite time to visit as the aspen and larch turn vivid shades of yellow. Others may prefer the lush greenery of the spring or summer and the colours of the wildflowers.
The views of the mountains in winter are particularly dramatic as snow caps the Three Sisters. However, the pond will be frozen, so you won’t experience the reflections. Also, the trail can be very snowy and icy in the winter. You may need snowshoes or ice cleats for the trail.
Tips For A Safe And Enjoyable Hike
- Dogs – You can bring your furry friends on the trail, but they must always be on a leash.
- Traffic – Be careful if you cross the top of the road bridge; the traffic here travels very fast.
- Footwear – The trail is rocky in sections, so wear decent shoes or runners.
- Wildlife – The Three Sisters viewpoint is a little outside the town, and you may come across bears, elk or other wildlife. You should always be aware of your surroundings and make plenty of noise to not surprise the animals. I prefer to go on this trail at the quieter times of the day, so I always carry bear spray.
This short Three Sisters walk is all about the view. If you are looking for the perfect shot of the iconic Three Sisters, there isn’t a better location in Canmore.