Beyond Canmore Nordic Centre Spray Lakes Road soon loses its asphalt cover and begins to climb in earnest, but just before it does, a small turn-off leads to a parking lot.
This is the trailhead for an easy 2km hike (1hr round-trip) to Grassi Lakes, a series of small tranquil, deep-green lakes high above town on a route with exceptional valley views. The trail is rough and steep, so you might take the option of descending back down a much easier dirt access road.
At the upper lake, be sure to take an easy scramble up the scree slope to four pictographs of human figures painted on the first large boulder in the gorge.
The surrounding cliffs are invariably busy with rock climbers; along with Heart Creek, Cougar Creek and Grotto Canyon, this is one of the best local areas for the sport. For a local guiding service, contact the Yamnuska Mountain School (403-678-4164), which also offers novice rock-climbing courses from $300.