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8 weekends of spring fun

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:

  1. Enjoy an easy family bike ride in Kananaskis. The Bill Milne Trail is a paved trail, relatively flat for most of the distance, and very scenic. We always start at the Kovach Pond Day Use Area below Kananaskis Village and ride to Wedge Pond and back in a 17km round trip distance. 

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.) 

  1. Take a fun hike to Troll Falls in Kananaskis. Everybody’s favorite easy hike, the trail is relatively flat, short (less than 4km return), and can even be enjoyed on mountain bikes. The proximity to Kananaskis Village also makes this hike popular.

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.

  1. Plan a day trip to Canmore. We love biking or walking along the river on the town trails, visiting the bike park in Millennium Park, or stopping in at the skateboard park beside the Canmore Recreation Centre. Most of the trails are unpaved, but are generally quite flat (if you stay near the river) and are great for novice cyclists or families pushing a stroller.

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.

  1. Go camping in the Bow Valley. Bow Valley Provincial Park is only an hour from Calgary and is very easy to reach after work on Friday. Head out with your tent or trailer, spend a couple nights in one of the provincial park campgrounds (some of them offer first-come first-serve camping), and return to the city refreshed and recharged for work and school on Monday.

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.

  1. Plan a day trip to Banff. There’s no shortage of fun activities to enjoy in Banff. Take a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola (kids are free for the first two hours of the day with a regular adult ticket, one child per adult), visit the hot springs, or climb your first mountain of the season with a short walk up Tunnel Mountain.

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.

  1. Take a day trip to Drumheller. We love visiting Drumheller in the late spring when it’s not quite so hot yet. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum (which has a great dinosaur-themed playground as well), take a short hike on one of the many trails around the town (we like stopping at Horseshoe Canyon on the way into Drumheller), or go for a spin on your bikes on the Drumheller Badlands River Parks System. This paved bike trail connects the Visitor Centre downtown with the museum. (Pick up a map from the visitor center!)

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.

  1. Bike on a closed highway to view a set of beautiful waterfalls. Highway 40 through Kananaskis doesn’t open to vehicle traffic until June 15, making this an ideal road biking trip for families. The highway is paved and is rideable with a chariot or bike trailer.

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. 

  1. Explore local with a walk around Fish Creek Provincial Park. It’s rare to find a provincial park within city limits, but we have Fish Creek Provincial Park in south Calgary! The park has over 80km of pathways (30km of which are paved). Many of the other trails are 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 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, You can find her on Instagram @MountainMomYYC. 


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