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Spring Weekend Escapes to Canmore

Summer is almost here, and Canmore is a great location close to home for those May and June weekend escapes before the kids are officially out of school and on vacation. Close enough for a day trip but enjoyable for a weekend getaway as well, Canmore offers something fun for every member of the family.

Plan a weekend trip to Canmore this Spring and try some of these activities with your family:

Bike or walk along the Bow River in Canmore. Start from the small parking lot by the Bow River Bridge on Rundle Drive (to the left as you cross the bridge out of the downtown area) or start in Millennium Park at the bottom of 5th Avenue. We like starting in Millennium Park because of the bike park and pump track located there. We spend some time at the bike park, and then hit the pathways for a short ride to Engine Bridge and back. This bridge shows up on Google maps along with a loop marked “the Spur Line Trail” and the “Higashikawa Friendship Trail.” On the other side of the river from Millennium Park, children will enjoy spending some time at the West Canmore Playground.

Go for a picnic at Quarry Lake. Quarry Lake has the best beach in the Bow Valley and kids will happily spend hours playing in the sand or wading in the water on a warm day. The Lake can be found as you drive up toward the Canmore Nordic Centre. The large parking lot on your left-hand side is unsigned, but a quick walk from your car will reveal the lake and off-leash dog park. (You can also find the lake with a quick Google maps search.)

Hike to nearby Grassi Lakes. Grassi Lakes is one of the most popular hikes in the Canmore, Kananaskis area. Take the “More Difficult” trail to enjoy an easy hike that leads you past a beautiful waterfall en route to two emerald colored lakes. The trail signed as “Easy” follows an old road that will allow families to access the first lake with a Chariot or similar outdoor stroller. Both trails meet up at the first lake from which point you can carry on a short distance to the second lake and popular sport climbing area. Return hiking distance is 3.5 kilometres.

Explore the Bow Valley with a hike through Heart Creek. Located just outside of Canmore along the TransCanada Highway, the Heart Creek Interpretive Trail is a fun hike that takes you to a hidden waterfall. It’s a great hike for young children at approximately a 3-kilometre return and if you look up at the canyon walls, you will see climbers high above you in this popular sport climbing spot.

For information on all the hikes available in the Canmore, Kananaskis area, visit the Tourism Canmore website at tourismcanmore.com or stop by the Canmore Visitor Information Centre at 907, 7 Avenue.

Go mountain biking at the Canmore Nordic Centre. There are no trail fees in effect during the summer, so you can spend the whole day exploring over 100 kilometres of trail including everything from technical single-track to wide dirt trails perfect for the whole family. There is also a paved roller skiing trail that doubles well as a family-friendly bike trail. Bike rentals are available at the Trail Sports Shop on-site.

Take a scenic road trip into the Smith-Dorrien Valley (Spray Lakes Provincial Park). Drive past the Canmore Nordic Centre on the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail, a scenic gravel road that travels through the Smith-Dorrien Valley (Spray Lakes Provincial Park) and joins up with Highway 40 in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. As an early season day trip outing, we like to bike or walk to Watridge Lake from the Mount Shark Trailhead. Park your bikes at the lake and continue on foot for a short hike up to the Karst Spring where an impressive waterfall shoots out of a hole in the ground. The round-trip hike/bike to Karst Spring and back is about 9 kilometres.

Adventurous families wanting to spend the night in the Spray Valley outside of Canmore can rent a yurt from Mount Engadine Lodge for $125 per adult per night (discounts available for kids). The yurt comfortably fits a family of four, and your accommodations include breakfast, lunch and dinner along with afternoon tea at the lodge.

For more information on Mount Engadine Lodge, visit mountengadine.com.

Bike the Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff. This paved 22-kilometre-long trail connects the towns of Canmore and Banff, starting from the Alberta Visitor Information Centre in Canmore located at 2801 Bow Valley Trail. We like to set up a car shuttle in advance or send an adult back for the vehicle. The Valley View Day-Use Area is also a good halfway point which families could use as a turnaround point.

For complete information with a breakdown of distances, access points and a printable map, visit the Parks Canada website at pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/cyclisme-biking/Heritage-Legacy.aspx.

For information on using the Banff-Canmore Roam Bus to return to Canmore at the end of your ride, visit the Roam Bus website at roamtransit.com/services/canmore-banff-regional.

Spend a few hours at Elevation Place. This giant ‘indoor playground’ is a great spot to burn off some energy on a cool or rainy Spring day. It features a climbing wall with seven automatic belay systems, a public library and aquatics centre complete with waterslide and lazy river.

More information can be found on the Elevation Place website at elevationplace.ca.

Visit the skate park. Concrete skate parks can be hard to find near Calgary, but Canmore’s skate park is a lot of fun for the whole family and is designed for users of all abilities. The park is located at 1900, 8th Avenue by Canmore Collegiate High School, and children can use skate boards, scooters or bikes. We also like that this skate park is located beside the town trail system, so we can go for a bike ride or walk after without moving the vehicle to a new parking lot.

Soak up the sun on a patio downtown. Canmore is the ultimate brunch location on a sunny Saturday or Sunday with many options for the whole family. Some popular family-friendly options include: the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. - #1, 838 - 10 Street; The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company - 622, 8 Street; The Drake Pub and Restaurant - 909 Railway Avenue; and The Rose & Crown Restaurant & Pub (with a playground on the patio) - 749 Railway Avenue.

Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to a spunky seven-year-old. 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. 

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