The Canmore Cloverleaf: Combined Highline, EKG, G-8, Montane Traverse

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photo: Saul Greenberg
  • Where: Canadian Rockies, Canmore Alberta
  • Map
  • GPS data.
  • Mountain Bike
  • ~60+ km linear, most of it intermediate single track. Time: ~6-8 hours).
  • Trailhead: Anywhere in Canmore, Alberta

Opinion. There are four classic mountain biking trips around Canmore: Highline loop, EKG / Orange Spot loop, G-8 loop, and the Montane Traverse to Harvey Heights Loop. All are individually very popular (each can be done in 1 - 3 hours), and are great outings in their own right. The Canmore Cloverleaf is the combination of all of these loops: 4 classics in a single day! There are surprisingly few sections on roads, especially if you take the town bike paths to get from one loop to the other. With the exception of these town bike paths, the way is almost all cross-country single track at a medium to high intermediate level. All loops can be done with variations, so you can customize your ride in any way you want - make it longer, shorter, tougher, easier. And its called the cloverleaf because each loop roughly (ok, really roughly) is a 'leaf' in a 4-leaf clover, with Canmore at its center. Are you feeling lucky?

Fact. Each loop is a popular route. However, most loops intersect with other trails (lots of junctions), so you may want to inquire at a bike shop for a more detailed local's map. Each loop forms a rough 'leaf' of a 4 leaf clover, with Canmore in the middle. Waypoints are numbered in order that I did the various paths, but other permutations are possible. A somewhat more zoomed in map is included in each loop.

  • Loop 1: Highline Loop. Map. Start by following the town bike path and cut through developments to eventually gain the far (east) Stuart Creek entrance of the Highline trail. Do the Highline trail, ending up on its far West exit. Then follow trails around or below the power line to the Grassi Lakes Parking road. Follow a trail of your choice into the Nordic Center.
    • Option: instead of taking the initial bike path, I am told there is a single track trail above the power lines (but below the main Highline) that you can take to Stuart Creek. Not sure of this trail, so ask around.
  • Loop 2: EKG / Orange Spot Loop. Map. Climb through the Nordic Center to access the EKG / Orange Spot Loop. Do the the EKG loop. I added the T2 / Skull Mountain variation, where I climbed back up to the EKG via Georgetown. Exit the Nordic Center onto 3 Sisters Drive, and follow the single track on 3 Sisters Drive down to the Bow River bridge (if you can't find that, no worries. Take the road).
    • Option: there are many great loops at the Nordic Center. I chose the one above because it is one of the 'bigger' loops, but you can make it even larger, smaller, or add more downhill bits. The Nordic Center has a good map of all trails.
  • Intermission. Map. Follow the river bike path past sewage treatment plant and horse corral, then bushwack up far side of the horse corral (stream crossing) to Cougar Creek, and follow bike path to the start of the G8 Loop at its top (i.e., just past the last road that crosses Cougar Creek).
    • Option: Go through downtown, and treat yourself to lunch, then meander up to Cougar Creek. Very civilized.
  • Loop 3: G8 Loop. Map. Do the Alpine Loop/G8 loop, adding Joe's extension to it at the far end. You will end up back in Cougar Creek where you started. Note: technically, the first part of the trail is called the Alpine Loop until it crosses a creek/canyon, after which it is called the G8 loop.
    • Options: As with the Nordic center, there are myriads of other trails that you can use to lengthen, shorten or vary this loop.
  • Loop 4: Montane Traverse to Harvey Heights and Back. Map. Cross Cougar Creek to do the Montane Traverse Loop to Harvey Heights. When you get near the end (you will be immediately above the radio tower), backtrack the Montane Trail to the junction that takes you down to the Douglas Fir Bench Trail. When you hit the road at the entrance to Silvertip, follow that and bikepaths back to your start.
    • Option: You can descend towards Harvey Heights, and pick up the Meander Trail and take that back to Montane Trail, where you can then continue as above to the Douglas Fir Bench Trail. However, the Meander Trail is poorly marked so you may not find it.

If you aren't tired after doing the above, then you are very fit.