Heart mountain is an easy to moderate scramble located just east of Canmore, Alberta. Its aspect makes it one of the first passable alpine trails that can be hiked in the summer. By mid June the approach to the first false peak is typically completely clear and dry. The final traverse across the top of the heart is likely to hide several knee deep snow drifts which can be refreshing on a warm day. The east slope is more exposed to the elements than the west. Strong winds here are a force to be reckoned with.
Take Highway 1 west from Calgary past Deadmans Flats to the Seebe / Exshaw exit just East of Lac Des Arcs. proceed over the overpass to the south side of the highway where you will find a parking area. From here follow the heart creek trail approximately 1km. A sign will point you towards the Heart Mountain scramble to the left of the trail.
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Posted By: k.macarthur
- Fri Jan 06 22:12:46 UTC 2017
UpsideReally Fun Quick up Quick Views DownsideExposed in some areas CommentWe made it up with our dog no problem, did have to lift him up the bouldering section, its about 2 meters high in total so would recommend dogs having a harness to make grabbing them and pulling them up that section easier.
Posted By: Mountaindog
- Sun Sep 25 17:53:40 UTC 2016
UpsideMost of the hike is along the "ridge". Cell phone reception the whole way. Great shoulder season hike. Downside Steep, sounds and views of the highway and Exshaw concrete plant for much of the hike. CommentI wanted to address the people who felt this hike was "too dangerous". First I will acknowledge that everyone's definition of dangerous is different but I truly believe that if you feared for your life you make have taken the wrong route to the summit of Heart Mountain.
I've ran this hike three times and each time I almost took a deceiving scrambling route up the northern face of Heart that appears about 2.8km from the parking lot when completing the loop counter clockwise. DO NOT GO UP THE FACE. At this 2.8km point, you need to ignore the rockface on your left that leads straight up to the peak. It looks like it's possible to scramble straight up the face, but incredibly dangerous. At 2.8km the trail descends temporarily before climbing again up towards the "scramble" at about 3.1km. The "scramble"before reaching the ridge consists of about 50m of rock scree. I honestly had to use my hands for maybe 30 seconds of this scramble and did it while holding trekking poles in one hand. Not bragging. I have no scrambling experience. I felt this hike was as challenging or dangerous as Ha Ling. Maybe even less so.
THE MAP ON TRAIL PEAKS IS DECEIVING! If done properly you will actually "pass" below the peak by about 200-300m and approach the summit from the south. The google map shown here would be the path of someone who just ignored the peak of Heart and continued straight on to Grant MacEwan Peak. A proper GPS route would have a little "switchback" back towards the highway.
I truly believe if that if at any point you fear for your life on this hike, stop what you are doing immediately because you probably went the wrong way! Always be safe out there!
Posted By: cstaines
- Tue Sep 02 05:55:46 UTC 2014
UpsideLike another user commented, I didn't die. There is cell phone service which gave me great comfort in the event something bad might happen (which i seriously thought would happen). Beautiful view. DownsideIt was a little scary, and I didn't expect that I would have to rock climb. CommentThis wasn't my most favourite hike. And to some it isn't a hike, it's a scramble. The entire way. With some climbing involved. I have been told however, (which i didn't know this prior) that there are 2 approaches to this hike. My friend and I just happened to take the more dangerous one. There were times that we were holding on to the edge of the mountain, not looking down because if we were to fall we would have surely plummeted to our deaths. What made this hike not as thrilling was that most of the scramble is uncovered by foliage/trees. So you get the same view the whole way up. By the time you make it to the top, the view is not as amazing since you've already been looking at it the entire time. So it was a lot of work for not an amazing result. Not like Ha Ling Peak; lots of work for an amazing view.
Just one thing about the directions to the hike: The directions as I understand them seem misleading. They seem to suggest thatyou should drive past Deadman's Flats to find the access road, but it is actually before Lac Des Arcs (The Exshaw road as it says).
Posted By: mud113
- Sun Jul 06 01:37:39 UTC 2014
UpsideBeautiful views of the Canmore and Bow Valley area, as well as a portion of K-Country. DownsideVery steep trail with some minor scree to deal with. Depending on when you go during the year you're in the sun most of the way up, so it can get quite warm during the ascent. CommentI was looking for a nice moderate hike to star off the year, but I was caught off guard by this hike. If you start off the hike by taking the West route up you can expect a very steep hike all the way to the top. There are no portions that flatten out until you get to the top. There's some easy scrambling (may be a bit difficult to anyone new) closer to the top of the first ridge you come to. I'm in shape and hike regularly, but I got a late start to this hike and struggled a bit with the incline. I would really recommend you be fit to do this hike. I would also recommend an early start to the day if you're hiking during the summer.
A couple things to note starting up the West end. If you park at the Heart Creek parking lot and follow the Heart Creek Trail to the trail head, you will notice that Heart Creek Trail abruptly ends at the creek. I was a bit confused for a bit, but you need to keep going up the creek bed about 20 feet and you'll see the bridge just around a bend and then follow the trail from there. Also of note, while there is one primary trail that takes you up the West trail, it can be difficult to find at times because there are so many other trails that have been forged to the left and right of it, so expect to get off a trail a couple of times. Finally, about half way up the trail appears to keep going straight towards a very steep scree slope. This is very misleading because there are two very noticeable and well-travelled trails that go straight up this scree slope. I, and several other hikers made the mistake of following this trail. Fortunately someone was coming down that made the same mistake and told us that once you get to the top there's nowhere to go, so we had to turn around and head back. So remember, if you hit the very steep scree slope look to the East and you'll see the trail go up and around a slope, but it's very easy to miss if you're not familiar with the hike.
If you're planning on doing the full route around heart mountain and down the other side the good news is once you get to the top of the first ridge it's pretty easy going the rest of the way the the views are great.
A couple of notes for choosing which route to go up: The East trail up to the top is very easy to follow because there is just one trail, so there's no risk of trail findinding. In addition, there's much less scree along this route to the top, making for a much easier ascent (although still very steep). That being said, going down the east route is actually very nice because the trail is mostly dirt and pine needles so it makes for a much nicer descent down the steep trail. As well, about half of the East trail is in the trees so you're in the shade for quite a ways, again making for a nice descent after a steep hike up on the West end. If you want to save yourself a couple of kilometers of walking you're best to park on the side of the highway at the farthest East trail access (there's usually cars in the ditch at about two or three spots after the Heart Creek Trail parking lot) and then head East on the power line trail until you hit the trail head for the East ascent. This will save you a 2 km walk along the highway from the East trail back to the parking lot.
All-in-all a very satisfying day hike if you decide to do the whole 11 km.
Posted By: extrafrostingplease
- Wed Sep 04 20:52:41 UTC 2013
UpsideI didn't die, beautiful view, close to Calgary. DownsideDon't be fooled by the romantic-sounding name of this mountain. Scrambling??? Super scary!!! Note to self, a "moderate scramble" is not a "moderate hike". This is climbing, people...not for the faint at heart. CommentI have no problems with a hard effort/a full day, even 18k, but the types of risks I had to take with my life on this hike are not what I want to be doing. This was my first - and hopefully only - scramble. I had a little bit of a breakdown on the way up, and another person in our group had a panic attack during the ridgewalk. There were several people we met on this hike who shouldn't have been up there and wished they weren't. (i.e. a family with three kids and a husband very angry with his wife.) Call me a coward, I don't care - I'd rather be on Buller Pass, Sulphur Mountain, at a tea house, Moose Mountain, or Helen Lake. This hike is not worth the risk, in my opinion.
Posted By: ChrisMarry
- Wed Aug 14 15:55:12 UTC 2013
UpsideScramble-climbing with great grips, great view of the Valley and Kananaskis, not too long and rewarding. DownsideVery steep on East side, first 3.2 km is quite abrupt. Not really a downside, but expect to sweat there! A little long and boring into the forest on parts of the ridge and on the way down West. On the way down west, there is probably 4km out of 6.5 in the forest and along the highway. CommentI loved it! There are so many paths you can practice an easy scrambling-climbing with no exposure most of the time. It's really different from most of the peaks I did, probably close to EEOR, where you can hike-scramble on rocks as well most of the hike. I would definitely do it again and use paths where climbing is a must, great playground if you want to get better at climbing, I recommend it! Park your car at Lac Des Arcs exit, take the first hike up where a sign of scrambling warning is.
Posted By: cubertt
- Tue May 22 14:49:41 UTC 2012
Upside A terrific early season warm up hike/scramble, some hands on areas with three peaks and decent views. DownsideConsidering some of the views you can achieve in many of the surrounding areas this was only okay. CommentMajor points for being a climb you can do in mid May with only a few treks through minor amounts of snow.
Posted By: slickster
- Sun May 13 02:06:49 UTC 2012
Upsidea great scramble. a great climb with fantastic views. exposure was minimal, a bit of hands-on. Downsidethe last part of the loop is not too exciting, walking back through the forest to get back. Commenti really enjoyed the climb, the loop. i did however take a wrong turn at the end of the horseshoe loop, and walked back along the highway a 2km. a very enjoyable day out. 6 hours around, including the wrong turn and breaks for pictures.
Posted By: Val Peredery
- Wed Jun 16 09:24:38 UTC 2010
I have never hiked up a mountain before. I'm a runner in fairly good shape. I find I'm clutsy at times. Are there any chances of me getting injured hiking up this mountain.ANSWERS are in this forum: Risks for getting injured
Posted By: creativeno
- Thu Oct 30 02:13:15 UTC 2008
UpsideIncredible vista!! The way up certainly takes your breath away, esp. if you are nervous of heights! DownsideOne part of the ridge walk, near the summit of ~7100 feet, the trail drops away on either side of you... scared the bleep bleep out of all of us!! CommentAn absolutely fantastic walk/hike & scramble! The view always stopped to amaze us. The trail certainly challenged us... would I do it again - nope! Once was enough & I have the pictures to prove it. For those of us who suffer from vertigo (I have a mild case), I would not suggest this! I would not recommend taking a dog on this trail either!