Ha Ling Peak - Canmore - Hiking Alberta

 

Ha Ling Peak guards the east side of Whitemans Gap in the Bow Valley above Canmore west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore,Alberta, Canada

 

This short hike is only 3.0 KM (1⅞ miles) one-way from the parking area to the summit, but an elevation gain of 737 m (2,417 ft) signals a relentless ascent to a maximum elevation of 2,407 m (7,897 ft)

Trail-head parking is at the Goat Creek Day Use Area just south of Whitemans Pond wedged between Ha Ling Peak and the east end of Mount Rundle (EEOR).

The other trail leaving from the Goat Creek Day Use Area travels west along Goat Creek between the Goat Range and Mount Rundle, to terminate at the Banff Springs Hotel for an excellent long, full day hike, or a half day bicycle ride but it is not the trail to Ha Ling Peak.  That trail-head is the brief walk to the opposite side of the Smith-Dorrien Trail, up the bank onto the service road, over the canal and past the dam on the concrete bridge, to the trail-head with the small brass plaque on a large boulder near the obvious power poles.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__01 Across Smith-Dorrien Trail, up the bank or road to the Ha Ling Peak trail-head above Canmore in Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__02 Cross the concrete bridge over the canal near the dam to the Ha Ling Peak trailhead above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__03 The trail-head to Ha Ling Peak is clearly near the power poles past the dam above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__04 The Ha Ling Peak trail-head plaque above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

The initial section of trail is very broad and saturated with roots.  The weather forecast is favorable but the hike begins in a very light rain.  Initial trail climbs consistently, with occasional braided sections, to merge with the trail above a drainage. 

After a series of short switchbacks a brief span of log steps leads to a long switchback left.  Sections of trail which traverse rock slab have been improved with gravel alternatives.  The climb is constant with occasional views down which support the rapid and consistent gain in elevation.  There are interesting trail features to distract from the climb.  During two additional long switchbacks, light rain turns to light snow.  The sound of high wind at treetops translates to occasional and gentle breeze at trail level.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__05 Wide, root-laden trail at the beginning of the hike to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__06 Trail at the beginning leads to a hike beside a drainage from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__07 Gravel path eases passage past rock slabs on the trail to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__08 Good trail is frequently interrupted with obstacles on the hike to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

There are many interesting trail features to be discovered.  The snow is falling more heavily and beginning to stick on wet ground as temperature continues to decline.  The cool air is actually refreshing and counters body heat generated by the effort of the ascent.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__09 Trail leads to steps for a fortified crossing past a significant slab section which would otherwise be difficult and dangerous to negotiate on the trail to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__10 Crossing a large rock slab section on the trail to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__11 Interesting trail features and thinning forest on the ascent of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__12 Interesting trail features along the hike to the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Further elevation gain continues on a short section of rugged, inconsistent and disorganized trail to more civilized and fairly consistent elevation gain with many informal trail options to the left which will lead directly over scree surface to the summit of Ha Ling Peak.  The choice is to continue on the trail aiming towards the saddle between Ha Ling Peak and Miner's Peak with Three Humps nearby.  When the tree line is exceeded into alpine territory, snow volume is increasing and being driven by high wind.  Snow is beginning to accumulate on the ground.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__15 The summit of Miner's Peak above the trees and Three Humps east of  Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__16 Wind driven snow with a view to Miner's Peak and Three Humps to the saddle near Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__17 Climbing to the saddle on the hike to Ha Ling Peak in the distance above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

The final portion of the hike is accurately described as an easy scramble but with careful route finding through sections of slab and scree, crags consistently offer safe footsteps to create a hiking experience.  As the summit of Ha Ling Peak gets closer, there are signs which warn of climbers ascending the face of Ha Ling Peak on the other side of the summit ridge line although it may be highly unlikely there will be anyone rock climbing in these conditions on this weekday following Thanksgiving.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__19 The ascent through scree and past slab to the saddle and ridgeline on the way to Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__20 Finding safe passage above wet slab rock in driving snow on the ascent towards Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__21 The view to Quarry Lake and Canmore beneath the ridge line on the route to Ha Ling Peak summit above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__25 Closing in on the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__26 The final approach to the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__27 Anchors for rock climbers near the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Views over Canmore are nearly obliterated and there is no visible evidence of Mount Lady Macdonald or Grotto Mountain on the other side of the Bow Valley CorridorQuarry Lake and Rundle Canal are visible directly below and the new Cougar Creek aqueduct is marginally visible on the other side of the valley.  Falling snow is blowing horizontal but photo exposure speed remains sufficient to make the snow appear relatively stationary. 

On the careful and exciting retreat from Ha Ling Peak over wet and slippery rock, there are dramatic views of Miner's Peak (Ship's Prow) and Three Humps becoming larger on the scree trail descent back to the saddle.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__28 Snow compromised view from the summit of Ha Ling Peak down to Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__29 Snow compromised view from the summit of Ha Ling Peak down to Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__30 Snow compromised view from the summit of Ha Ling Peak down to Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__31 The view east from near the summit of Ha Ling Peak towards Miner's Peak and Three Humps above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__32 Descending from the summit of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada.  Miner's Peak and Three Humps are in the background.

 

The dramatic visuals are compromised by driving snow and wet rock which add an element of adventure on the route down along the ridge line.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__34 Hiking the ridgeline towards the saddle connecting Ha Ling Peak to Miner's Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__36 Driving snow on the descent from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__37 A good look at Miner's Peak and Three Humps from the ridge line near Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__38 Approaching the saddle between Ha Ling Peak and Miner's Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada.  Note the single uppermost evergreen tree in the distance near photo right.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__39 The single evergreen tree at the trail junction to Miner's Peak at the saddle between Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

 At the trail junction beneath the saddle, every fiber of my being needs to continue the hike at high elevation to Miner's Peak and beyond to Three Humps.  After standing in the blowing snow for several minutes to consider all the variables, including increasing wind speed, falling ceilings and increasing snow ground cover, solo hiking the exposure is potentially a bad decision and reluctantly descent proceeds into the protection of the tree line.to the main trail.  The inner child is disappointed but the adult will look forward to a return to Miner's Peak and Three Humps another day under more favorable conditions. 

There are excellent views of Goat Creek in the valley beneath and, on descent, snow reverts to light rain.  Footsteps on wet trail must be cautious.  The main hazards are wet roots and rocks polished from millions of prior footsteps on this perennially popular trail.  Rain is not reaching the lower levels of the trail and pooling water is a small issue justifying proper footwear and careful navigation.  The pungent, musty odor of wet, misty forest is wonderful and energizing.

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__40 The cloud ceiling descends on the descent to the parking area from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__41 View to the valley floor on the descent from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__42 Forest features and descent perspective on the trail from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__44 Back to trail along the drainage from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__45 Lush, misty and intensely aromatic forest near the end of the descent from Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Back at the trail-head, cloud cover is clearly descending and disordered as mist rolls down mountain sides to fill valleys.  On the return drive home, a stop into the parking area at Quarry Lake photographs cloud cover over Miner's Peak and Ha Ling Peak from beneath and it is interesting to observe from below how weather conditions have changed at the summit of Ha Ling Peak in less than two hours. 

The decision to abandon was correct this day.  Could have gone the other way.

Such is the way of the mountains.  It is always important to be prepared for nearly anything and often everything on the same day, particularly in the short season.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__47 Back at the trailhead where the canal meets the bridge and dam at the bottom of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__48 The dam from the bridge at the bottom of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada.  The canal flows through a tunnel which feeds Whitemans Pond.

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__49 A bit of Autumn color near the Goat Creek Day Use Area at the base of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__50 The Goat Creek Day Use Area across Smith-Dorrien Trail at the base of Ha Ling Peak above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Ha Ling Peak, Canmore, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada__51 View of the face of Miner's Peak (Ship's Prow) and Ha Ling Peak from Quarry Lake above Canmore in the Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

These questionable and different-than-forecasted weather days create special memories.  The ability to rise above adversity and enjoy the challenge is a powerful and satisfying experience.  What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. 

Confidence increases as knowledge, and the interpretation of the unexpected, is expanded and managed.  Hiking a specific mission becomes exponentially more satisfying.  Comfort zone expands with experience and physical presence adjusts automatically to changes in environment.

Recently, DSD published a post on her blog which describes the transition.  You can view her post at Summit Stones and Adventure Musings, She knew it was me.

Photographs for this short, steep hike to the summit of Ha Ling Peak were taken on a blustery day at altitude above Canmore, Alberta on October 14, 2014.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

We have been fortunate this year to be able to hike to higher altitudes this late in the fall shoulder season. It is a mix of weather with which we are familiar in this part of Canada. The important part is to have the necessary gear to handle whatever gets thrown at you. Thanks for your comment, Helen.

A tremendous effort given the weather conditions. A day either side and it may have been clear. Comment based on daily observations of web cam.

Thank you for the information! We love your site (especially how detailed it is!!) and are VERY excited to try this hike :) keep doing what your doing, it's awesome!

Thank you for your kind words, Savannah.  Ha Ling is a very popular sustained ascent.  Great views over Canmore to Grotto Mountain and Mount Lady Macdonald.  Enjoy your day.

Excellent details and accurately describes trail. This post allowed us to find the trail head easily today on July 25th 2017. Many thanks, Renaud

Pleased to hear that worked out for you.  Grand day to summit Ha Ling.

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