Hiking the Middle Sister

There seem to be Three Sisters rock formations all over the world. Canmore’s hang above town looking picturesque and a little formidable, but there’s actually quite a nice walk up the back of the middle one – the back one is a bit of a scramble, and the littlest one in the front is a low grade climb (on nasty limestone though).

We had another late start, not getting away from home until well after 10am, then trying to get through the golf course, only to be turned back. Cursing the fact we hadn’t just ridden from home, we walked along the road up to the turn off up towards Stewart Creek. Having biked it before, the walk seemed interminable. It couldn’t last forever though, and eventually we were wandering up the hill, and then hopping back and forth across a rather dry Stewart Creek.

The trail climbs steadily as you wander up the creek, and then gets steep and rocky, and a little vertical. We dived off to the left and made our way up through the trees. After a lunch stop half way up, we finished the tree/meadow ascent (the steepest and most awkward part of the whole hike) and were spat out into the huge scree-filled bowl beneath the Big and Middle Sister.

Looking at all that scree and cliff above us, I was wondering whether we’d be able to make it up with baby in tow. But after the first few hundred metres the scree became more and more civilised, and although we were walking near cliffs from time to time, there were never death-defying steep scree slops to scramble across (with a cliffy doom your reward for failure).

Once we hit the shoulder between the Big and Middle Sister I began to relax – it was almost just a flat wander from here! And the views were already gorgeous. Although we could have done without the wind.

little sister from middle sister

Looking down on the Little Sister from the summit of the Middle Sister, then out towards Calgary

At the summit we took it in turns to huddle in the wind shelter with the baby, and jump out and get some photos while trying to avoid being blown off the mountain.

bow valley and canmore

Bow Valley and Canmore from the summit of the Middle Sister

path back to the saddle and the big sister

The path back down to the saddle, and the view up to the Big Sister

Then it was a quick scree gallop down again, to the meadows and the trees, and down along the creek, back down the track and to the car. Not the best hike of the Summer, but definitely top five. I think I’d read a few reviews of the hike where people complained about the Stewart Creek portion, and how long and awful the hike is, so I was expecting the worst, and really – it’s not many places where you’d have people complaining about a hike this good!

back down stewart creek

Back down Stewart Creek and out to the Bow Valley

Distance: 19km return
Mountain height: 2,769 m (9,085 feet)
Elevation gain: 1,400 m
Total time taken: 7hr15min

2 thoughts on “Hiking the Middle Sister”

  1. Stunning views! Do you have any higher resolution pics available (particularly to see Calgary to the east).

    Thanks for posting these!

    1. Heya Steve,
      Yes, it’s a great hike. The higher res pictures still don’t have Calgary in sharp focus, just because of the f-stop I was using.
      Megan

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