5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
This is a fun but challenging scrambling route which can be completed in either direction, although counter clockwise is the recommended route as it makes for an easier decent.
The trail starts out through the forest, but you very quickly start to hike up the ridge of Heart Mountain, where you are immediately rewarded with open views down the valley overlooking Lac des Arcs.
The route up heart mountain is a scramble, and around 3/4 of the way up you hit a large rock wall, at this point there is a blue marker on the wall indicating which direction to go in, be sure not to miss it, as there is also a scree slope to the right that looks like it is the trail, but it isn't and there is no way up from there.
The blue markers continue whilst you scramble up the rocks towards the summit of heart mountain, which has 360 views of the surrounding peaks.
This is a great place to have lunch & enjoy the awesome views.
A lot of hikers only summit Heart Mountain and then descend the same way but completing this loop is well worth the effort; it's a pretty open ridge walk the entire way, giving amazing views in all directions - you can even see Calgary from the peak of Grant MacEwan! As not as many people complete the loop you will find it a much quieter hike once you continue past Heart Mountain, and it really does make for a great day in the mountains.
The descent on the other side is much more simple, it's still steep, but you soon make it back into the treeline where it becomes a really nice forest walk back to the highway.
This is a long hike - plan around 6-7 hours to complete, and if hiking in early or late season, micro spikes are essential.
This hike can be completed year round, however it is much more challenging in winter and requires snowshoes & good micro spikes.