Promises of a waterfall, a creek, a canyon, and candy are the things that get my kids hiking. Here are 11 family-friendly waterfall hikes so, Mamas load up your playlist with TLC and start the car.
Cold War Bunker Hike in Canmore Alberta
Hiking with kids is always… interesting. I find that if I can entice mine with an end goal to hike to they do MUCH better. Usually we try to find a hike with water (lakes, rivers, waterfalls, etc) to get to, but this time we wanted something different so we tried the Cold War Bunker Hike just East of Canmore.
When you tell the kids there is an old, abandoned cave to explore at the end of the hike they move FAST!
The cave was built during the Cold War to house important documents for the Canadian Government in case of disaster. Construction for this project started in 1969 but ended before it was completed due to moisture in the cave. Damp environments and sensitive documents don’t mix well, I guess!
The caves go further back than we expected so we highly recommend bringing a couple of flashlights to explore. We used our cell phone lights but having flashlights would have been better.
This trail is easy to do and can be done in all seasons. It is a 4km hike with slight elevation at the end but I would say it is a relatively easy hike for most families. You can see more details about the hike and check the latest trail reports on AllTrails.
To get to the trailhead:
- Park in the Heart Creek Trail parking lot.
- There are two parking areas once you turn off the highway. Park in the West one.
- At the far West side of the parking lot you’ll see a sign about bears. You found the trail!
The weather outside is getting colder and mountains are slowly being capped by snow. The cold weather and extra layers to go outside and explore with kids can be a daunting task. It is not always easy convincing toddlers and preschoolers to keep their mitts on. However, it is worth the struggle. Trust me. The trails turn into a beautiful winter wonderland. For children, this means entering the land of “Frozen”. Hot chocolate by the fireplace is also so much more enjoyable after a day of exploring in the cold. These 4 hikes, located in the Born to be Adventurous “Hiking Guide for Families”, are perfect winter hikes for everyone to enjoy. They are rated for little kids and range from easy to difficult for little feet. This means that toddlers and their grandparents can find a hike to enjoy together this winter.
3 Winter Hiking Tips:
Bring along Ice Cleats in the backpack in case the trail gets slippery.
Plan to take a little longer finishing the trail as hiking in the snow can be a little more challenging for kids.
Be prepared and consider using some of these 7 hiking tips for hiking in the winter with kids.
4 Beautiful Winter Hikes for Families around Calgary
Troll Falls is an easy 2.4 km hike with minimal elevation located in the stunning Kananaskis area. In the winter, Troll Falls turns into a natural frozen masterpiece. Use caution when exploring the falls as it is very slippery, and pieces of ice can break off from above. Park at the Troll Falls Day Use area. The trail starts passed the end of the parking lot on the left side.
If the trail is packed down with snow in the winter, then consider bringing a sled to pull the kids when they get tired of hiking. Even though the downhills are not too long or steep, it is best to get off the sled during the downhills to avoid accidently hitting a tree or another hiker.
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.
Chickakoo Lake Day Trip
This past weekend I took the family about 30 minutes west of Edmonton for a day hike to Chickakoo Lake. (Okay so maybe it was more of a walk). We went for a short trail and a little play before we had to make it back for my husband to work on some stuff.
But before I get into the details of this place and our trip I want to take you down my memory lane a little bit. When I was about 6 my parents divorced. Since my father was a long distance truck driver we got to see him about every second weekend. I feel so lucky though that he sure made those weekends count and we created memories. One of my fond memories is him taking us to Chickakoo Lake. We went summers for bike rides and winters for cross country skiing.
Last week I decided our family needed to get out of the house and into some nature, away from work and screens and other distractions. I called up my Dad too and as we were walking this weekend we shared stories with my husband and girls from our trips when I was a kid. *Insert big AWWWWWWWW’s here*
Since this destination is a short drive from Highway 16 (1228 Township Road 535) it makes it a great stopping point for anyone travelling through Edmonton to head onto somewhere else that needs to give the kids a bit of run around time.
There are three trail ratings of Novice, Intermediate and Advanced with a few different options for both. You can branch off from one trail to another to make it shorter/longer or easier/harder. Luckily they are pretty well marked so you don’t get lost!
Off the dock or from a side shore you can do some fishing for some trout as well. It’s sport fishing of catch and release only though, so no keeping the fish!
Additionally there are many picnic benches (even a large covered section for big family gatherings) and a small park for the kids to play, making this a great day adventure as well. So pack a lunch, the tackle box and some water and spend the day outside!
Where to get your Charcuterie Boards and Charcuterie Boxes In Alberta
It’s going to be the summer of the picnic, and there’s no better (or fancier) way to picnic than a charcuterie in Alberta. Picture yourself on a hike in the mountains, your favourite hill, in a botanical garden, or even on a pasture (see Open Farm Days in August). Here’s where you can grab a charcuterie “to go” across the province.
Bow Valley (Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, Exshaw, and Kananaskis)
Banff Graze Co.
Banff Graze Co. is great for those that live in the area, but also a terrific idea if you’re travelling to the Bow Valley and want to have something special for your lunch hike, or try a charcuterie board instead of eating at a restaurant while you’re in town.
For those of you familiar with the Devon River Valley Trail in Voyageur Park, right on. For those of you who don’t, go. Especially if you have early bird kids, or if you are one!
A friend and I went on a Saturday morning, met at 530AM in the parking lot, and by golly, nary a soul in sight. We didn’t run into one person on the path and upon returning to our vehicle, there were just a few fellas fishing under the bridge.
There are a few fire pits with picnic tables along the river that would just be amazing with the fam jam and the “beachy” part we came across would entertain my kids for HOURS just throwing rocks in. Didn’t bring them this time – mama needed a break but next time!
Do you feel like it’s the same old thing every year? Quickly after the beauty of fall fades, the next season creeps in. A season that makes even some of the world’s most resilient animals say… yeah, no, gonna sleep through this one.
I’m talking about winter.
Winter makes us feel the need to bury ourselves under every blanket in the house, turn on the fireplace, and debate whether letting our kids watch TV for the next 5 months straight is reasonable. Anyone with me? I haven’t always been the biggest fan of winter and my fiance is even less impressed with this particular season.
Unfortunately (but also, fortunately), our 5-year-old child tends to set the stage for our daily activities, so… OUTSIDE WE GO! He has truly helped warm my relationship with winter. Greatly. I’ve come to actually love it! So I’m going to spend the next little while trying to convince you, while winter isn’t the easiest season to tolerate, it can be one of the most fun! Believe me?
First, let’s quickly touch on safety. Safety in the outdoors is always important, but I would say it’s the most critical in the winter with all the ice, snow, and darkness (I know… I’m selling it. Please keep reading!). I’ll keep it short. I strongly suggest you check the forecast and overpack with many layers and backups if you’re heading out. If your kiddo is typically unimpressed with the cold weather, bringing hand and foot warmers can help keep them toasty and you happy!
Winter Fun in the Backyard
Whether we like it or not, winter is here for a few more months. Getting the kids to go outside and play seems like way more work in winter especially when they are little. We’ve come up with some tips and tricks to help you get outside and take advantage of the snowy weather. Who knows… Winter may even become your favourite season!
- Dress for the weather – this means lots of layers especially for little ones. It can also mean spending some extra money on things like really good socks (wool based ones are great for warmth and moisture), boots, and mitts. Yes even for yourself! If you are cold you will not want to be outside. We live in a place where it is winter for half the year – invest in some good winter boots. It is a game changer!
- Sign up for winter activities if your budget allows – If you have put money down on a class, chances are you will show up no matter the weather. Ski lessons, snowshoeing, winter hike tours, and skating are all things you can do as a family.
- Enjoy the darkness – With winter comes shorter days but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. If you live in the city go for a drive to the country and go star gazing. Elk Island National Park, Kananaskis, or really any country road are all great options for star sighting. Don’t want to leave your backyard? Give the kids flashlights and glow sticks to take outside. You’ll have to drag them back in.
- Bring treats – Summer adventures mean ice cream and picnics but you can reward yourself for getting outside in winter too! Get a fancy hot chocolate and go for a walk or instead of finding ice cream, find a new bakery to check out.
- Book a mountain trip – Jasper in January can bring some great hotel deals and if you have a flexible work schedule try booking Jasper or Banff midweek to save some money. Winter doesn’t seem so bad when you are surrounded by Rocky Mountain beauty.
- Make a playdate – Tell the other parent they will be outside so they are dressed appropriately and let the kids build a fort, have a snowball fight, or build a snowman. Playing is more fun with a friend.
- Plan a family toboggan date – Get friends and family together to go tobogganing. Everyone brings their sleds and a thermos of hot drinks and you’re ready. If tobogganing isn’t your thing, find an outdoor rink and have a skating party!
- Use summer toys in winter – Keep the sand toys out to let them build snow-castles and dig with shovels. Bring out bubbles and watch them freeze. Use hula hoops for a winter obstacle course. Just because they are toys marketed to summer activities doesn’t mean they can’t use them year round.
Winter is not going anywhere so you may as well join in. If the kids see you out having fun, they’ll follow suit. And soon enough they will stay outside longer than the time it takes to bundle everyone up. Hopefully.
A few years ago, one of the gifts that I gave my husband for Christmas was date nights for a year. I planned and purchased everything we needed for them and even added in cash. Each date night went into an individual envelope, and it was a surprise every month with a fun activity. It doesn’t haven’t to be grandiose by any means but it’s a great way to ensure you’re spending time together.