The spring sun is slowly forcing its way through the winter clouds. It is beckoning to Calgarians, inviting them to start kicking the snow off their shoes, and to start exploring the magnificent hiking trails gracing the surrounding area.
Hiking can be enjoyed by the whole family. The hiking trails in the Canmore and Kananaskis area offer breathtaking views, and a day full of fun activities.
Newcomers to the hiking scene can head to the town of Canmore where an in-depth and well-marked trail system will greet you. The mountain scenery will reach up to the sky as one walks through at a leisurely pace. After hiking around town, a visit to the downtown area is a perfect end to your hiking day. There are many specialty stores, galleries, coffee shops and restaurants to choose from.
Hikers with more experience can head to the back country for a more hands-on approach to the activity. There is a plethora of hiking options in the back country with varying difficulty levels. Local guiding operators can be contacted for things such as interpretive hikes, wildlife viewing, multi-day hiking trips and aboriginal experiences.
However, for those do-it-yourselfers out there, here are some of the hiking trails available for exploration:
Grassi Lakes offers light difficulty and beautiful views. It is just past the Canmore Nordic Centre and will take approximately two hours. That is, if one can tear themselves away from the breathtaking ponds with crystal clear green water, waterfalls, wild flowers and the panoramic view of the Canmore area.
The Heart Creek hiking trail offers a beautiful hidden waterfall close to Calgary just off of the Highway 1 Heart Creek/Lac des Arcs exit. This not-so-difficult hike leads you over a footbridge to a gravel path alongside a creek. After crossing seven log bridges, the beautiful, thunderous sound of a waterfall will greet you, as it is situated farther up the canyon. The estimated time of this hike is one-and-a-half hours for a return trip.
Ribbon Falls is located in Kananaskis Country, and it offers hikers more difficulty. Some parts of the hike can be steep and difficult. This would be a day hike, as the approximate time of the entire hike is seven hours. There are several waterfalls along the way, making it exciting for the whole family. The first four kilometres of the hike are open to mountain bikers. For those wishing to make this hike into an overnight ordeal, there is a campground. A few hundred metres before the falls is where you will find several backcountry camping spots between Mount Kidd and Mount Bogart. No reservations are needed.
Johnston Canyon and the Ink Pots is perhaps the most beautiful hike available to Calgarians. The power of nature and the essence of time come together to form a path through the limestone canyon providing families with an experience they will never forget. The entire hike is a four-and-a-half hour round trip; however, the lower and upper falls can be walked to in a shorter amount of time. This hike is just outside of Banff along the TransCanada highway off the Bow Valley Parkway exit.
Beginning with a paved walkway to the Lower Falls, you will view water plunging 10 metres into a deeply carved pothole. As you continue, you will come to the Upper Falls where the water plunges more than 30 metres. Finally, you will encounter the ink pots, which are six clear green pools filled with spring water that remains at a constant temperature. This hike is worth the trek.
Families who are going hiking this summer are reminded that staying safe is of top priority. Plan your trip, be cautious of wildlife, be smart and stay on the marked trail.
As the spring sun peeks through the clouds, Calgarians are welcome to gaze at the wonders of nature that surround this great city. Gather the family and plan a day that will fill photo albums with beautiful pictures, and minds with memories that can never be replaced.
Going Hiking? Don’t forget these items.
And remember: Always let a family member or friend know where you are going, and when you are returning. Bring your fully-charged cell phone and be safe!
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