School is back in session, extracurricular classes are back on the calendar and for us parents, work is picking up again after a relaxed summer with fewer deadlines and pressures. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and put family time on the back burner as we adjust to new schedules and routines. Choose one or two of the day trips below to help alleviate some of the back-to-school stress and reconnect for some weekend family time this Fall.
1. Plan a day trip to Kananaskis Village. Kananaskis Village has bike trails and hiking paths to suit every member of your family. Take a short walk to Troll Falls or try some easy mountain biking around the Village. Enjoy one final ice cream cone and savor time in a popular tourist destination without the normal summer crowds.
2. Visit the Canmore Nordic Centre. While you will have to pay to ski at the Nordic Centre this winter, there are no trail fees for mountain biking and hiking. Plan a day trip to Canmore for some family-friendly biking, rent a bike from Trail Sports on-site if you don’t have one and then finish the day off on a sunny patio in town. Maps of the park can be purchased at the Centre and families will find both paved and natural trails to enjoy. October 5 is a fun event called “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” and instructors will be on hand to lead group rides.
3. Take a golden larch hike at Lake Louise. The third weekend of September sees the Lake Louise area turn a golden color of yellow and orange as the larch trees hit their peak before their needles fall off for the winter season. While the area will be incredibly busy, you can avoid some of the crowds by arriving early (ensuring you will find a parking spot) or by hiking mid-week. We like to stay overnight on Sunday and hike Monday when the trails are much quieter. For an affordable place to spend the night, try the Lake Louise or Mosquito Creek Hostel. Both hostels have private family rooms and the Mosquito Creek Hostel even has a private cabin. For the best larch hikes, start with Larch Valley or the Lake Agnes Tea House hikes. If you have older children or teens, try Saddleback Pass, Sentinel Pass or the climb up Mt. Fairview.
4. Enjoy the Town of Banff without the tourists. Plan a day trip to Banff with a ride on the gondola, a soak in the hot springs or a short hike up Tunnel Mountain. The town is much quieter in September and October, making it an excellent place to take the family! We often plan half-day autumn trips to Banff with a relaxed start, lunch at Tim Hortons in the bus depot and then a short hike. It’s a great way to plan a stress-free day in the mountains.
5. Spend the day in Sunshine Meadows. Autumn is actually our favorite time to visit Sunshine Village without the crowds or freezing temperatures. White Mountain Adventures provides shuttle service up to the Village day-use area and from there, it’s a short hike to the magical Sunshine Meadows. Named the number one hike in Canada by Lonely Planet, this hike is family-friendly and short enough for most preschoolers. Visit Sunshine Meadows around the third week of September to see golden larch trees surrounding the beautiful Rock Isle Lake. While Sunshine Meadows is a great hike all summer, shuttle rates are reduced in September, making this a more affordable option for families.
For more information, visit the following sites:
Kananaskis Village - www.albertaparks.ca/evan-thomas/information-facilities/special-facilities/kananaskis-village.aspx
Canmore Nordic Centre - www.albertaparks.ca/canmore-nordic-centre.aspx
Hiking at Lake Louise - www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/randonee-hiking/lakelouise.aspx
Hostelling International - www.hihostels.ca
The Banff Gondola - www.explorerockies.com
Sunshine Meadows - www.sunshinemeadowsbanff.com/sunshine_meadows/sunshine_meadows.htm
Tanya loves hiking, camping, skiing and all things mountain-related. She is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com, and the founder of Calgary Outdoor Playgroups on Facebook. More information about her playgroups can be found on her blog.
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