Sport climbing
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade II
Elevation Gain
250.00 m (820.21 ft)
6.71 km (4.17 mi)
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Cougar Creek is the closest climbing crag to Canmore and offers a full range of routes from 5.6 to 5.14. It is classic limestone climbing in the Canadian Rockies, characterized by tricky small holds, variable rock quality, and techy moves. The climbing here is much more technical and precise than Grassi Lakes. Also, there is no walk-around for top roping and few easy routes, so it's generally not a good spot for beginner climbers. Intermediate and experienced climbers will be most happy here. Route descriptions can be found in Bow Valley Sport Climbs.

From the Trans-Canada Highway, take the second exit into Canmore (from either direction) and head uphill on Elk Run Boulevard. At the top of the hill, across from the Iron Goat restaurant, there is a three-way intersection. Head right across the bridge and take an immediate left into the parking lot.

The walk to the crags takes between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on which area you head for. The trail wanders through the broken gravel and up the canyon for a fair ways. Many people use this area for family hikes, walking their dogs, and pleasant strolls.

While there is little noticeable elevation change, you actually climb several hundred meters. On the return, it is noticeably faster. This area is often closed in June, and the gigantic "T-Rex Cage" is shut to prevent flood debris. In 2013, the whole area was badly washed out, destroying several homes. As a consequence, during flood season it often shuts.


Once there, you have a whole host of areas to choose from. Many people like to go farther back up the canyon and work their way back, stopping at each section, slowly heading back out of the canyon.

  • House of Cards is a popular choice for warming up with 5.8 and 5.9 climbs. There are also nearly 20 routes here graded 5.10 and 5.11. Routes in this area are packed close together, so it is often the most popular.
  • Across the way, Casino Wall is another popular choice. It too is graded mostly for intermediates, but it is in the shade and a little taller.
  • Most people regard Canadian Forks, where the valley splits, to be the best crag. If you keep working your way up the valley, hiking for several hours, you'll find Planet X with its numerous 5.14 projects.


  • Helmets (rock frequently pops out here)
  • Harness and belay device
  • 10 to 14 draws
  • 60- to 70-meter rope

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round


Open from

May 23 to June 28


Easy access. Lots of intermediate routes.


Not beginner friendly. Spaced out. Grueling hike in.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Trailhead Elevation

4,527.56 ft (1,380.00 m)

Highest point

4,954.07 ft (1,510.00 m)


Geologically significant
Big vistas
Bird watching
Big Game Watching



Typically multi-day


Permit required


Primary aspect

West facing

Class / Rating

5.6 - 5.14

Drinking water

Unfrozen water


Nearby Adventures


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