Ha Ling Peak is one of the most well known peaks in Canmore. Protruding prominently behind Canmore, the trail to the peak is a popular, easy scramble that is usually rather crowded in the summer months and with good reason. Ha Ling Peak overlooks Canmore and provides a beautiful, panoramic view of the surrounding peaks and mountain ranges including its neighbour Mount Rundle, Grotto Mountain, Lady McDonald, and Mount Lawrence Grassi. Once you're at the top, it is almost a crime to not head over along the ridge to Miner's Peak right next door.
Although Ha Ling peaked has been climbed and hiked for years now, the name has not always been Ha Ling. Originally the peak was called "Chinaman's Peak" but given the possible offense that people could take from the name, it was changed in 1997 to be less derogatory.
The name "Chinaman's Peak" was because of a Chinese cook that used to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1896. There was a bet made for $50 that the cook could not make it to the top of the peak and plant a flag within 10 hours. The cook set off at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning and was back by noon. The people astounded and somewhat doubtful gave the cook a hard time and so he went and took a party up to the peak again and this time planted an even bigger flag next to his original one. The bigger flag was now visible by the naked eye in the townsite and the peak was named after him in his honour.
The peak's name was not official until 1980 when it was officially named as "Chinaman's Peak" and then later was changed to "Ha Ling Peak", the cook's name, in the late 90's. Interestingly enough, prior to the cook climbing the peak, it was referred to as "The Beehive" by locals.
Ha Ling Peak is undoubtedly the busiest peak around Canmore. Easy access out of the town site and great view makes this summit appealing. The vast majority of the scramble is a steep hike with the last eighty meters or so consisting of loose rock. If energy and time is on your side, the extension to the adjacent Miners Peak and the high points is recommended. The traffic is usually minimal so it offers a nice break from the Ha Ling Peak's hustle and bustle.
Ha Ling Peak & Miners Peak Trip Log
Once parked at the bottom of the hill in the Goat Creek parking lot, proceed to cross over to the east side of the road. As you make your way up the rocky hill side, you will sturdy bridge over the canal.
Make your way over the bridge. The water in the canal feeds from the Spray Lakes Reservoir in the south and into the Bow River by Canmore. Once over, the trail will take you behind a small building and into the forest ahead. The first time doing this, it may seem a bit confusing as there appears to be a dozen trails entering the forests edge. In truth, they all converge into one main trail very shortly afterwards. Do not follow the canal as that will take you further south towards the start of Mount Lawrence Grassi, we can save that for another day.
The trail itself is pretty solid, good compacted soil; with the occasional stones poking out do not present you with any challenges. It does not waste any time ascending, once you enter the forest the trail goes up. The occasional switch backs help ease the ascent. There are a few breaks in the trees which offer a glimpsing view of the East End of Mount Rundle to the north and the Goat Range to the west.
The most technically difficult portions of the hike up are nothing more than the single rocky outcropping that you have to step over and a section where the trail narrows a little. Both sections are very easy to overcome and are comfortable to walk on.
Once you clear the tree line, the terrain does get a bit steeper. More noticeably, the solid soil below your boots turns to rock. The trail narrows to a single track trail and loose rock litters the ground. The tree line is a popular break point as we have seen groups of people scattered around the trail having snacks each time we have done Ha Ling Peak. You get your first uninterrupted view of the East end of Rundle and a pleasant panoramic vista to the south.
Shortly after the trail leads to the ridge that connects Ha Ling Peak on climbers left, and Miners Peak on your right. You get your first view over the top and into Canmore with the Bow Valley below. The terrain here goes get a bit more slippery as there are a few more loose rocks. As you near the summit the trail breaks up a bit and breaks off into more than I was willing to count. Take whichever is the most comfortable and reach the summit. Chubby golden-mantled ground squirrels are in abundance up here due to all of the generous tourists.
Once you reach the summit, there is a good sized wind shelter to protect you from the wind. The summit ridge is of good length so it does offer some exploring options. Please be weary of the edge, not just you do not fall off, but so you do not nock any rocks off the edge. Ha Ling Peak is a popular climbing spot with numerous routes up its face. Nocking a rock off, even a small one, can be very harmful or even fatal to anyone climbing below.
Return is the same way. Alternatively if there is still juice in the batteries, continuing to Miner's Peak makes for a great loop.
Continuing on to the high points is a nice bonus. All three spires are easily spotted. Make your way across the wide saddle and over the small rock band. You can pick which one you want to do, or do all three!
The scrambling on the high points is the most ‘difficult’ part of the whole day. They are all pretty small and short but do require a couple hands on points. Considering Ha Ling Peak is nothing more than a difficult hike, these would be an easy scramble. There is not much room on the furthest point, but I was able to setup a tripod on the middle one to capture the virtual tour.
From here, it is time to start the closing chapter of the day's adventure and head down. Make your way back on the route you took up.
GPS Plotted Route
The route itself is pretty straight forward thanks to the numerous visitors this mountain sees. For the GPS data, all the high points were completed in a clock-wise fashion. Number one would be Ha Ling Peak itself, number two is Miners Peak, and number three are the three high points on the southwest end.
Looking at the elevation profile, all the peaks are remarkably close. Ha Ling Peak is in fact the highest though by a few meters. The elevation lost traversing from Ha Ling Peak to Miners Peak is about 90 meters but worth the little extra effort. The high points from Miners Peak are negligible.
Click here to download the GPS route in GPX format. You may have to right click and select "Save Link As" if your browser does not download it automatically. Be sure to save it as a .gpx file.
What were your experiences scrambling Ha Ling Peak & Miners Peak?
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