With the crisp winter chill in the air and impending snow on the horizon, I’ve been reminiscing about warm summer days and breezy autumn afternoons – an afternoon hike in particular. Like any well organized individual, I had a summer bucket list. Hiking was the last remaining and after my recent hike in the mountains I was finally able to cross that off the list as well (even if it is technically not summer anymore).
I tagged along with my roommate on a recent Saturday morning and after throwing on our hiking clothes and grabbing bottles of water, we took off down the highway to a spot surrounded by the mountains. Taking us just about an hour and a half to complete, this was a pretty easy hike that is also suitable for families wanting to take their children along. Parking is available at the start of the trail at Grotto Pond; washrooms available as well (after just over an hour’s drive and a lot of tea drinking on the way, this was a glorious discovery. No squatting in the bush for us that day!)
After navigating through the trees and up a few inclines, we reached the canyon. From there on out it involved a combination of hopping over the streams, going from boulder to boulder, and most of the walking is on loose stones.
The canyon walls tower above as you make your way through. If you’re a rock or ice-climbing enthusiast, this is a popular place to do both of these depending on the season. Another unique part of this particular hike is the Indigenous pictographs that can still be seen on one of the canyon walls. Pictographs of people and animals can be clearly seen if you know where to look (a mother-daughter team pointed them out to us) and are said to be between 500-1000 years old. You can make out the images in red below, what looks like a canoe in the top photo and 3-4 people in the bottom photo.
The end of the hike is marked by a little waterfall running down from the top of the canyon walls. You can choose to climb up the rocks near the top of the waterfall or you can just admire it from the base before turning around and making your way back the way you came. The waterfall is also a good place to take a rest and have a little picnic! However, if you want to keep going the canyon does continue on to the left. We chose to end it at the waterfall but I would definitely go back and continue on my way.
Grotto Canyon proved to be a fun little outing on a warm autumn day and we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and feeling so at ease after clearing our minds and connecting with nature. I would say that the only off-putting thing about this hike is that the start is located right next to the Baymag plant, which processes magnesium-carbonate. It’s not really a sight you want to be seeing when you want to be surrounded by nature and in the fresh air. All in all, this is an easy 4km hike to do, doesn’t take too much time, and has some nice views. If you plan on taking the trails during the winter months, please be aware that the canyon will be covered in a thick layer of ice and snow and it is highly recommended that you wear adequate footwear to prevent slipping.