Heart Mountain

Elevation (feet): 7,005
Elevation (meters): 2,135
Continent: North America
Country: Canada
Range/Region: Canadian Rockies
Province: Alberta
Latitude: 51.037994
Longitude: -115.132771
Difficulty: Scramble
Best months for climbing: Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep
Nearest major airport: Calgary International
Convenient Center: Canmore

Thanks to Ian Hollingshead for adding this peak.

Heart Creek crosses the TransCanada in Kananaskis Provincial Park before you reach Canmore and the National Parks coming from the east. It forms a canyon that narrows as it winds its way to the backside (north) of Mount Lorette. Its name is derived from Heart Mountain which borders Heart Creek to the east. Heart Mountain has a heart-shaped thick layer of limestone at the summit that is angled such to be easily viewed from the TransCanada, particularly traveling east. Kananaskis Provincial Park encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies.

The climbing is as diverse in Heart Creek as any of Canmore’s local climbing scenes. Over 130 routes line 15 different walls along a 1.2km trail that meanders south back and forth across the creek. The ratings vary from 5.4 on Bunny Hill to 5.13c further in on the Bayon Wall. The majority of routes are rated 5.10-5.11. There are also ice climbing routes at the southern end of the canyon. As in all canyons in the Canadian Rockies, chasing the sun can be quite the challenge on cold days. First Rock and Jupiter Rock get the morning sun. Golden Arch and Upper Heart Slab are good for early and/or late season. This website, sponsored by our local climbing gym, has gone through the painstaking task of putting together quite the print friendly topo climbing maps showing all the routes. These maps are more beneficial than our local guide book, Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, but I recommend you take both into the canyon.

The parking area for Heart Creek, along side the TransCanada, is one of the best (and only) viewpoints for Mount Fable to the north. Whichever route(s) you chose, start the day off right at the most popular local climbers hangout, the Summit Café on Cougar Creek Drive off of Benchlands Trail in Canmore. It is the best coffee shop in town and serves breakfast and sacked lunches. Ask for Steve.

Getting There- The TransCanada Highway runs from Calgary through the Rocky Mountain Canadian National Parks on its way to Vancouver. Right before you enter Banff National Park, there are the towns of Canmore and Exshaw. The official parking area is at the southwest corner of the Lac des Arcs exit off of the TransCanada. Most climbers however, just pull off onto the south side of the freeway at the creek itself. There is a large parking area established at this location. Whether officials prefer people to use it or not, it appears to be quite tolerated. Two trails start along the creek: the Heart Mountain scramble trail, and the sport climbing trail which runs along Heart Creek itself.

Red Tape- Heart Creek is located in Kananaskis Country. There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis. I do advise checking with the park website link provided above for possible trail closures, although Heart Creek is rarely if ever closed.

All camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the Kananaskis website which is included in the camping section below. There is no official camping allowed back in Heart Creek.

When To Climb- As with most rock climbing in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. Virtually no one rock climbs in Heart Creek during the winter months.

Camping- The closest camp site would be back in Canmore at the town campsite located at the information center off of the TransCanada. The Alpine Club of Canada’s national office is located in Canmore and also serves as a hostel, a recently renovated one at that.

You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Canmore or Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website for more information regarding backcountry camping. Of course there are tons of lodging options in Canmore from 5 star spas to cheap motels.

Mountain Conditions- The Kananaskis Provincial Park website is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions and/or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. The Canadian Avalanche Association site is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports are also extremely helpful. There are four recorded accidents at Heart Creek.

Trip Reports

NOTE: Trip reports were previously called "Summit Logs" - same feature, new name

There are 9 trip reports for Heart Mountain.

Select any entry from the list below:

  • Log #22111 - by rockieschick on Dec 17, 2010
    Great beginner climb. Easy to do almost all year round when snow melts from chinook!
  • Log #19099 - by Dow Williams on Feb 14, 2006
    Park on the south side of TransCanada at Hearts Creek. Cross the creek and follow the sign marking a trail that ascends the mountain. Early in the season will require an alpine axe and confident...
  • Log #16332 - by E. B. on Sep 14, 2004
    I have conquered this peak three times in the past. It's fairly easy and the scrambling is interesting as the summit is approached. Best summit time was 55 minutes.
  • Log #16333 - by Nichlus Manne on May 10, 2004
    Surprised to find 3-4 feet of snow on final slope to first summit. Carried coiled rope as an extra "hand-hold" (lead person anchors themself, holds rope; second can grab rope coil and haul...
  • Log #16334 - by Tim Helmer on Oct 11, 2003
    Heart Mountain is located in the Canadian Rockies. I have been up to the top of this popular little mountain twice before in previous years. On the first expedition I expeditiously dropped off the...
  • Log #16335 - by Rob Davidson on Aug 16, 2003
    Heart is a fun scramble! "To travel, to experience, to learn - that is to live." Tenzing Norgay, from Man of Everest
  • Log #16336 - by Clay Hellman on July 28, 2003
    I thought this hike was fantastic! I really enjoyed the technical parts, and the view was spectacular, although smokey that day, due to forest fires in Crowsnest Pass. We ascended the front ridge,...
  • Log #16337 - by Craig Knelsen on July 02, 2002
    Short approach and small elevation gain (under 3,000') make it ideal for conditioning. In 1994, I descended the west side into a drainage channel. A drop-off guarded by a rock wall is easily...
  • Log #16338 - by james Shellhammer on Aug 20, 2001
    Great hike local to the Bay Area. Views were good. Really no crowds for this mid-week hike. I'd do it again.