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10 Outdoor Activity Picks for Spring Break

March is one of my favorite months of the year because there’s still lots of snow to play in, I’m not quite tired of the snow yet, and it’s easy to stay outside for long periods of time thanks to the extra Spring daylight and warmer temperatures. Get outside in March for some fun day trips close to Calgary and plan some staycation fun the whole family will enjoy!

1. Try tubing at a local ski hill. There’s not much snow remaining on local sledding hills come Spring, but ski hills still have plenty of snow at their tube parks. Tubing is easy, gentle on the body, and requires no athletic ability. To try the closest tube park, visit WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park. Other nearby tube park options include Nakiska ski area and Mount Norquay.

2. Hit the slopes for Spring skiing or snowboarding. If you’ve been meaning to put the kids in a ski or snowboard lesson this winter (but it never happened), there’s no need to put it off until next winter. Spring sun makes for warm ski days and it’s a lot easier to learn to ski or snowboard when you aren’t freezing cold.

If you usually ski at Nakiska, Spring is a great time to travel farther to one of the bigger resorts in Banff and you can make a mini vacation out of it by spending a night in Canmore or Banff (COVID-19 restrictions permitting).

3. Spend a day at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Spring sun isn’t especially good for ski trails, but you can extend the ski season with a day at the Canmore Nordic Centre where the trails get groomed and freshly track set daily. I’ve skied here as late as April and still had good snow.

You can also rent skis and sleds for babies or toddlers at Trail Sports on-site. If you’re new to cross-country skiing (or want a nice family-friendly beginner trail), I recommend the short outing to the meadow and back on the main Banff Trail, an easy 6-kilometre return ski on a relatively flat trail.

In addition to the Nordic ski trails, you’ll also find a fabulous sledding hill and a skating rink at the Centre, which are free to use. Trail fees are only in effect for skiing.

4. Spend a day at Kananaskis Village. Depending on the conditions, you can take a short walk around the Pomeroy Kananaskis Lodge, go skating on the pond, visit the thrilling sledding hill located out back near the hockey rink and playground, rent snowshoes from Kananaskis Outfitters and try a short loop, or take a lovely family hike to nearby Troll Falls.

Professionally-guided family hikes can also be arranged through Kananaskis Outfitters if you’re new to the area and don’t want to get lost on the Village trails. Whatever activities your family chooses, make sure you warm up after at the coffee shop inside the Lodge, with a wide variety of lunch options.

To make a weekend out of your adventures, book a night or two at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge where the kids will enjoy the indoor swimming pool and water park.

5. Take a day trip to Bragg Creek and Elbow Valley. Follow Highway 22 down the Cowboy Trail to the hamlet of Bragg Creek. From there, continue into Kananaskis country and drive as far as the highway permits. If you’re visiting before May 15, the road is open as far as the Elbow Falls Day-Use Area.

Visit the waterfalls and then continue along the closed highway on foot until you reach the Beaver Lodge Day- Use Area and trailhead for the Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail (less than 500 metres down the highway). Hike the short trail along a creek, passing by several beaver ponds. This short trail is a 3-kilometre round trip.

The Paddy’s Flat Campground is also a fun place to explore when it’s closed. Park near the gate by the highway and walk down to the river. There’s a playground along the way and you’ll find a nice interpretive trail by the water.

6. Take a day trip to Lake Louise. Enjoy skating on one of the world’s most beautiful ice rinks, open into early April. Play in gigantic mountains of snow around the lake, and make sure you bring sleds for the large sledding hill located beside the Château Lake Louise. You can usually sled here through early April.

Other activities in the area include cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. The Bow River Loop is my favorite trail for a family-friendly hike or ski with a couple of very scenic bridges over the river.

7. Take the kids on a winter hike or try snowshoeing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis. Follow Highway 40 south until you reach the turnoff for this large PP (provincial park). There are many snowshoe trails located throughout the park. Family favorites include the Elkwood Loop, which starts from the Elkwood Amphitheatre parking lot. This trail loops around Marl Lake in a 3.4-kilometre outing. The Rawson Lake Trail is also popular for a longer hike. The hike is 3.9 kilometres one way and starts from the Upper Lake Day-Use Area. To find more snowshoe and winter hiking trails in the park, visit the Alberta Parks website.

8. Explore local with a walk around Fish Creek Provincial Park. It’s rare to find a PP within city limits. We are very fortunate to have one located right here in south Calgary! Fish Creek has over 80 kilometres of pathways (30 kilometres of which are paved). Many of the other trails are a hard-packed shale and still easy for walking with young kids. Follow the trails along Fish Creek, crossing multiple bridges. The park is also a great place to go looking for birds and wildlife with over 200 bird species observed here.

For those living in north Calgary, consider visiting Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, located between Calgary and Cochrane off Highway 1A. This park has more than 25 kilometres of pathways for walking and hiking (including a large section of paved trail).

9. Go ice skating in Calgary at one of the City rinks or outdoor ponds. My family loves skating at Bowness Lagoon where you can also skate down the creek. The lagoon is usually open through March. For families living in south Calgary, consider visiting the lagoon at Carburn Park or check out the new skating path in North Glenmore Park. A complete list of outdoor skating rinks can be found on The City of Calgary’s website.

10. Try geocaching on trails around Calgary. Geocaching is a great year-round activity that can be played in City parks and natural areas. Get started by loading the geocaching app on your phone and bring a small kit with you. Your kit should include a few trinkets that you will trade with other small items you find in the caches, a pencil for signing logbooks (and paper, in case the logbook is full), and hand sanitizer.

To get started, you don’t need to pay for the app but as you get more serious about geocaching, you’ll want to purchase an annual subscription so that you have access to a larger collection of caches to find around the city.

See you on the trails in and around our great city!

Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to an energetic boy. She loves hiking, camping, skiing, and all things mountain-related. She is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, rockiesfamilyadventures.com.

 

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