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Three Sisters Canmore: How to find the viewpoint

Me standing by the creek looking at the three sisters mountains in canmore

The Three Sisters in Canmore are one of the best known clusters of mountains in the region. They’re the most recognizable mountains in all of Canmore.

What’s interesting is that each of them has a name and a brief story.

Back in the 1800s, Canmore was a quiet mining town with a population of between 200 and 300 people. After a particularly powerful snow blizzard in 1883, the mountains were each covered with snow only on their north faces.

This created the illusion of nun’s veils and inspired Albert Rogers to name the mountain peaks “the three nuns”.

Just three years later, in 1886, George Dawson renamed the mountains as the Three Sisters, and they quickly became a popular feature in Canmore. Individually named Big sister (Faith), Middle sister (Charity) and little sister (Hope). As you can see they each have two names.

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Mountain Stats

Big Sister

2,936 m tall

First climbed in 1887

Middle Sister

2,769 m tall

First climbed in 1920

Little Sister

2,694 m tall

First climbed in 1925


railway bridge in Canmore
The train bridge (close to sunset) to walk underneath to get to the trail.

Getting to the viewpoint

So you can actually see the three sister’s from multiple places in town, but this viewpoint near the creek is probably my favourite of them all.

What I found is when you search “Three Sisters viewpoint” one comes up on google maps, but I honestly didn’t like it too much. It is just an opening at the side of the road.

If you are staying locally in downtown Canmore, you’re only a short walk away. Instead of following google maps to the one listed, you instead want to follow the “Bow valley Trail” road. This is one of the main roads in and out of Canmore off of the Trans-Canada Highway and is a route often taken to and from Calgary.

With the Canmore downtown shops behind you, and the Three Sisters in the distance slightly to your right, make your way down the Bow Valley Trail.

Safety tip: Walk on the left side of the road (same side as Solara resort and the Helicopter Alpine co) since the other side does not have a pavement for you to walk on.

To the Trailhead

Walk as far as the “Off-Leash Dog Park” and then SAFELY cross the road into an unmarked car park (it’s basically just a gravel clearing). I like to consider this the trailhead.

From the gravel clearing you will see a concrete bridge and the railway track. You will need to walk underneath the bridge so please make sure you use caution. Keep following the gravel road until it curves slightly to the left. You will eventually find a small forest trail that has been clearly walked on.

well walked forest trail

Follow this through until you reach a small body of water which is part of the Policeman’s creek. This normally takes a few minutes along the trail and you can’t go wrong!

The Policeman’s creek stream is the same creek that you walk alongside during the Boardwalk trail in the town centre.

Eventually you will reach a small clearing which is your final destination.

Well done, you have reached the (better) Three Sisters viewpoint, one of the highlights of Canmore! During the different months the amount of water seen here will vary. In winter it is mostly frozen over with lots of snow. In summer there is less water due to it being hotter and drier.

three sisters viewpoint in canmore
The Three Sisters overlooking the creek

Spending a few days in Canmore? Why not check these other posts:

Want a more difficult trail to tackle in Canmore? Check out the EEOR Hike in Alberta – The East End of Rundle


When to visit

As this is an accessible location no matter the weather, it can be visited at any time of year. In winter you will see ice and snow, and the summer will be very green. Many photographers use this viewpoint to capture sunrise and sunset shots of the mountains.

On a cloudy day, you get a much better sunrise photograph due to the clouds creating more colours and the position of the sun. I would highly recommend making the short walk for sunrise on at least one of your days in Canmore.

Tip: Because the rocky mountains are so picture-perfect you can get great photos almost anywhere at sunrise. My favourite sunrise spot was on the EEOR trail if you’re up for a more challenging walk.

me standing by the water at the mountain viewpoint
Me standing at the three sisters viewpoint

Other Three Sisters Hikes in Canmore

This post is about finding the Three Sisters viewpoint so you can get the best pictures of the mountain trio. Since this is Canmore and part of the Rocky mountains, there are multiple other hikes involving the Three Sister’s that you can also check out whilst visiting the area.

Check them out below:

  • Three Sisters Creek – This route is easily accessible for all skill levels and is mostly flat terrain. It features wildflowers, surrounding forest and is used by mountain bikers as well as hikers. This is a 3.4km hike.

  • Three Sisters Pass – A trail that follows the length of a river and features a waterfall is popular in the area. This 5km trail is all uphill and features some great mountain views from the top of the viewpoint.

  • Powerline Track to Three Sisters trail Starting on the other side of Canmore near Rundle Forebay, this trail takes you all the way to the powerline track. If you continue along the full trail you will eventually reach Quarry Lake and the Loki’s lowline trail. This takes roughly 3-4 hours to walk.

It is not possible to hike all three mountain trails within one day due to the difficulty of the hike on Charity mountain. This isn’t even attempted by experts with appropriate rock climbing gear.

Be aware: There is also an extremely dangerous traverse in between the mountains which means you cannot get from one to the other.


Canmore town sign with three sisters in background
The Three Sisters poking out over the Canmore sign.

Accommodation

If you’re planning to stay in Canmore (rather than travelling in for a day trip from Banff), you probably need somewhere to stay. Depending on your travel style you have a few different accommodations to choose from.

  • Canmore Downtown Hostel – Fun, sociable and budget-friendly hostel with a large common room. It is so easy to meet other traveller’s here and there are always events advertised. This is located in the courtyard of the central Canmore shops, 15 minutes from the viewpoint.
  • Solara Resort – A more luxurious accommodation on the Bow Valley Trail for visitors who want more of their own space. Private rooms in a quiet resort with mountain views. Only a 10 minute walk from the viewpoint.

So there you have it. If you want to find the (better) viewpoint than what is listed online, follow these steps and let me know what you think!

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4 Comments

  1. What a very interesting article to read. I have never heard of the Three Sisters in Canmore before, but this looks like a great area to visit. Definitely adding this to my bucket list.

  2. What a neat story of how the Three Sisters got their name and I love that you included the directions to find their best viewpoint. Thanks for including some accommodations too!

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