- Written by Tanya Koob; Photo - Fullerton Loop: Fran Graydon
Our family believes in making the most of every season, and it isn’t hard to do that when spring is around the corner. The warmer weather beckons us to get outside and bask in the sun. Our favorite place to be on a lovely spring day is exploring one of the many family-friendly trails in Kananaskis. Below are my top choices for a family day hike:
Fullerton Loop, Elbow Valley. This hike starts from the Allen Bill day use area past Bragg Creek on Hwy 66. It’s a 7-kilometre return loop that takes a couple of hours at a moderate pace. Your lungs will get a good workout on the way up to the lookout (150 metres of height gain) but it’s a beautiful place to have lunch and gaze out across the Elbow Valley. This hike is an annual spring ritual for many Calgarians. If you wait until late June, the hills are orange with lilies, but we’ve enjoyed this hike as early as March. Combine this hike with a wiener roast afterward at the day use area. Picnic sites can be found all around the pond that has a paved path circling it. No better picnic area can be found in the Elbow Valley, including Elbow Falls.
The Riverview/Sulphur Springs Loop, Elbow Valley. This loop starts from the Paddy’s Flat Campground located farther along Hwy 66. We always hike here before the campground opens for the season mid-May and you park at the gate beside the highway. The loop is 10 kilometres and takes a few hours at a moderate pace. You’ll climb 200 metres, but the hills are mostly gradual and the views from the lower slopes of the Moose Mountain Road are stunning.
If you want a slightly easier hike, you can combine the Riverview trail with the Elbow Valley trail or you can just hike the Riverview Trail as far as you want and go back the same way. The Riverview Trail follows the Paddy’s Flat interpretive trail for the first kilometre and for a great toddler stroll, it’s hard to beat this gentle walk along the river.
Bow Valley Provincial Park Trails. Bow Valley Provincial Park is located off the Trans-Canada Hwy at the Seebe interchange where you turn onto Hwy 1X. The Campground opens mid-May so if you go before it opens, you will have to park at the Middle Lake Parking Lot but you will have the whole park to yourself. From Middle Lake, there is a very pleasant and mostly flat8. 7-kilometre loop around the park.
Our favorite trail in the park is the Many Springs Trail located at the far end of the park. If the campground is open, you can park right at the trail head. The Many Springs loop is 1.6 kilometres and perfect in distance for small children. The park has day use areas for picnics, if you visit when the campground is open.
Ribbon Creek, Kananaskis Village. Ribbon Creek is Located along Hwy 40 below Kananaskis Village and the Nakiska Ski Hill. You can walk along the creek as far as you want and have a picnic when you return. Alternatively, you can also hike to a pretty little waterfall called Troll Falls in under a 4-kilometre return. It’s a great family destination and easy for young children with wide, gentle trails.
There’s also a paved bike trail leading from Ribbon Creek to the Village, if your family prefers a nice bike ride or you are pushing a stroller. (Note: It is uphill to the village and you will get a good workout.) At the Village you will find a playground, coffee shop in the Delta Kananaskis and ice cream in the general store.
For more information
For more information about these hikes, visit the Government of Alberta’s website for Kananaskis at www.tpr.alberta.ca/parks/kananaskis/flashindex.asp
Or contact one of the Visitor Centres:
Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre: 1-403-673-3985
Elbow Valley Visitor Information Centre: 1-403-949-4261
Tanya loves hiking, camping, skiing and all things mountain-related.Tanya is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, www.familyadventuresinthecanadianrockies.blogspot.com/ and the creator of the Calgary Family Adventure Community on Facebook.