Our family goes into full “weekend warrior” mode during May and June as we count down the days until school lets out for summer and we can go on vacation. While we patiently wait for the last day of classes, we pack our weekends full of fun hikes, bike rides, and day trips around the city to hold us over.
Make the most of spring weekends this year with some of the fun activities below:
To shorten the ride, send an adult back for the vehicle while you play at the pond. Alternatively, turn around at the Mt. Kidd Campground if your energy is starting to fade.
For more information, stop in at the Barrier Lake Visitor Centre on your drive out to the Village. You can also check trail conditions on the Alberta Parks website (recommended for frequent wildlife advisories.)
As an extension to the hike, look for a new trail that has been built to the Upper Falls, a beautiful two-tier set of falls located a short distance above Troll Falls. You’ll also pass by Marmot Falls en route to the Upper Falls where you can walk behind a beautiful waterfall. You’ll find the signed Upper Falls Junction on the Troll Falls trail, shortly before reaching the waterfall, and the extension adds a kilometre to your outing.
The trail to the Upper Falls has been built with family safety in mind, and stays away from all drop offs. It may still not be suitable for young children, though, and is not stroller friendly. The trail climbs 70m, has sets of stairs, and is steep in places.
For more information, stop in at the Barrier Lake Visitor Centre on your way out.
Add a stop at one of the local coffee shops, family-friendly patios or pubs, or an ice-cream shop along the main street, and you’ve got a fun day ahead of you.
To access the river trails for walking or biking, we like to park at either the Canmore Recreation Centre or at Millennium Park. Both offer free parking and have large lots. From Millennium Park it is especially easy to do a loop along the Bow River and to visit the West Canmore Park Playground on the other side of the river. Visit Google Maps where the green dotted lines indicate pathways connecting the parks.
While in the Bow Valley, we like walking around the loop on the Many Springs Trail from the Bow Valley Campground or just walking along the river on the easy Bow River Trail. Across the road, we like exploring the Flowing Water Trail in the Willow Rock Campground.
For more information or to check campground availability, visit the Alberta Parks website.
We also like biking the paved Legacy Trail between Canmore and Banff. It’s a 17km ride from Cascade Ponds in Banff to the Travel Alberta Visitor Information Centre in Canmore. At this point, send an adult back for the vehicle and head to one of the fast food restaurants nearby to wait it out over ice-cream and French fries. Alternatively, the Valley View Day Use Area along the TransCanada Highway makes a nice half-way stop for an out-and-back ride to either town on the Legacy Trail.
We’ve also enjoyed biking the road to Wayne, a ghost town with one remaining business – the family-friendly Last Chance Saloon. Along the road, you’ll cross 11 one-lane bridges which the children will enjoy. (Note: You will be sharing the road with vehicle traffic and groups of loud motorbikes, but people tend to slow down as they pass and the speed limit isn’t very high on this scenic road). The ride is 10km return.
You can also drive to Wayne if you want to visit the saloon and take in the badlands scenery without biking there!
For more information, stop in at the Visitor Centre in Drumheller.
You'll be starting your adventure from the Town of Longview south of Calgary. From here, head west on Highway 40 until you reach Highwood Junction. This is as far as you will drive, and you can park on the side of the highway by the closed gate.
From the gate, it is approximately a 4.5km bike ride one way to the Cat Creek Day Use Area where you can hike in to see the Cat Creek waterfall (1.3km one way.)
And note, this bike ride is not flat. There are a few very large hills that you’ll have to ride both up and down. In the past, we’ve just walked the largest hill, but children will do best with gears on their bike and definitely need to know how to use their brakes.
For more information on current trail conditions, please contact a visitor center. It’s also recommended to check the Alberta Parks website for wildlife closures or advisories.
For those living in north Calgary, consider visiting Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, located between Calgary and Cochrane off Highway 1A. This park also has more than 25km of pathways for walking and hiking (including a large section of paved trail).
Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to a spunky 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. You can find her on Instagram @MountainMomYYC.
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