We recently spent some much needed time away just outside of Canmore and decided to go for lunch on our first day there at The Grizzly Paw Brewing Co.
One of the things we wanted to do more this summer was to explore different hiking trails. Our kids are getting a bit older (7&11) so going on adventure walks by the campsite isn’t cutting it anymore.
We were in Kananaskis and one of the very helpful park staff members suggested Elbow Lake. If you’re ever in Kananaskis we highly recommend you stop by the information center. It has a pretty good little (FREE) museum and the staff there are fantastic at suggesting things that suit your family.
A fun way to explore with your kids when you’re in the Bow Valley region is through hiking. There are many trails in the region for beginner hikers and are suitable for families.
Grassi Lakes trail is rated a beginner hike by Tourism Canmore, so, with my kids in mind during a moms weekend away, I decided to hike the Grassi Lakes trail to see if this would be something my kids would be interested in doing.
What you’ll need
- Real Shoes. This is not the hike for flip flops! Sensible shoes are a must for this hike (sneakers or hiking boots) because the hike can be very steep and depending on the route you take, it can be precarious at times.
- Sunscreen! I love the Rocky Mountain Soap Company’s natural sunscreen, it’s an SPF 31 and made with 100% natural ingredients. Plus Rocky Mountain Soap is a local company, and so when in Canmore…
- Water. All the water. It’s a good hike, uphill on the side of the mountain, you’re going to need to keep hydrated.
- Snacks. There are some really great spots at the top of the hike next to the turquoise lakes to settle in for a little picnic. Chances are, if your kids are like mine, they will be starving 5 mins into the trip. There are no garbage bins on the trail, so be prepared to bring whatever you brought up on the hike back down with you.
Grassi Lakes trail is located 2 km past the Nordic Centre and gets very busy during the summer months and on weekends. There are two places to park, either on the Smith Dorien Spray Trail (Three Sisters Parkway) or down at the entrance of the hike at Ken Richie Way.
The trail is divided into two routes, the “Easy”, and the “More Difficult.” I’m not much of a hiker or adventurer, so I took the Easy route and left the “More Difficult” route to the pros on the way up. After 5 minutes on the Easy trail, I was starting to wonder at what point this was going to be easy. To be fair you’re essentially climbing up a mountain on a fairly steep slope, so if you’re a prairie dweller like me, stretch those muscles before you go walking up the path.
It’s not stroller friendly (it’s essentially a gravel path) so pack your little ones in the carrier or have them walk. There are boulders along the way if the kids (or you) need a little break for water.
Once you get to the top, the views are unreal! Beautiful panoramic views of Canmore as well as two turquoise lakes and lots of things for kids to climb on and explore. Perfect place for a picnic as well.
I decided on the way down to take the “More Difficult” route, you only live once right? Well, I wish I had taken this trail on the way up! So much more to see including a huge waterfall. It was just spectacular. Do not take this trail if you’re with littles though. It’s quite steep and stepping over roots and narrow walkways do not lend themselves to toddlers or parents carrying babies on their backs. If you have older kids, this is definitely the way to go. Lots more to see and feels more like a hike than climbing a (very) steep hill.
Lastly, although the trail is fairly busy, you should still be aware of wildlife. Wildsmart has lots of information on keeping safe while on your wilderness hikes this summer, from what to look for and wildlife corridors in the Rocky Mountains.