Written by Tanya Koob
Shake it up this spring with a spring break challenge! The goal is to try at least a couple new things with your family. We usually continue our mission into April, and by May we have always visited several new places around Calgary.
What new activities could you try with your kids this month during spring break? It could be as simple as visiting a new playground or trying a new hiking trail.
Below are ten suggestions to get those ideas flowing:
- Try tubing at one of the local ski hills. There's not usually much snow remaining on our local sledding hills come spring, but fortunately, ski hills still have plenty of snow at their tube parks. Tubing is easy, gentle on the body, and requires no athletic abilities. Try the closest one at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park – they even have a snack bar at the bottom of the park with a sunny patio for those warm spring days!
- Go hiking in Bow Valley Provincial Park. Our favorite trail in the park is the Many Springs Interpretive Trail located in the Bow Valley Campground. The campground (and its roads) doesn’t open until the end of April, and so until then, this 1.3km loop is approached on foot from the Middle Lake Day Use Area. Hike the closed road, walk around the Many Springs Loop, and then walk back, stopping at the playground in the Elk Flats Group Use Area. Total outing is approximately 5km long. Alternately, for a shorter outing, try the Flowing Water Interpretive Trail, located inside the Willow Rock Campground across the road from the Bow Valley Campground. This 2km loop trail follows boardwalk sections through a wetland environment complete with beaver lodges and dams.
- Explore a provincial park. It’s rare to find a provincial park within city limits, but Fish Creek Provincial Park is in south Calgary! The park has over 80km of pathways (30km of which are paved). Many of the other trails are a hard-packed shale, and still easy for walking with young kids. Follow the trails along Fish Creek, crossing multiple bridges, and bring out the bikes to explore further once the pathways are dry. The park is also a great place to go looking for birds and wildlife with over 200 bird species observed here. And for those living in north Calgary, consider visiting Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Located between Calgary and Cochrane off Highway 1A, this park also has more than 25km of pathways for walking, hiking, and biking (including a large section of paved trail).
- Learn to climb as a family. Learning to rock climb is a little bit less scary when you're climbing a wall with happy faces that light up every step that you take. Book ahead at the Calgary Climbing Centre's Hanger location in the northeast or the Rocky Mountain location in the northwest and spend an hour in one of the family-friendly Climbparks. The park uses an auto belay system on all walls and features, meaning you'll need no experience, and children can climb on their own without a partner.
- Visit a new playground. There is no shortage of cool playgrounds around the city. Grab a few friends, and head out to a new park that you’ve never visited. The Calgary Playground Review website is a great resource to help you find that new favorite playground!
- Try downhill skiing or snowboarding at one of the local hills. If you've been meaning to put the kids in a ski or snowboard lesson all winter now (and it just never happened), there's no need to put it off until next winter. Spring sun makes for warm ski days, and it's a lot easier to learn to ski when you aren't freezing cold. All area hills offer group and private lessons, and it could be fun to sign the kids up for a snowboarding lesson (if they already ski) just to try something new!
- Try cross country skiing for a day in Canmore. Spring sun isn't especially good for ski trails, but you can extend the season with a day at the Canmore Nordic Centre where the trails get groomed and freshly track set daily. I've skied here as late as April before and still had good snow. Visit the Trail Sports website for information on ski rentals at the Nordic Centre. You can also rent sleds for pulling younger kids. trailsports.com. If you’re new to cross country skiing, I recommend the short outing to the meadow warming hut and back on the main Banff Trail, an easy 6km return ski on a relatively flat trail.
- Spend a day at Kananaskis Village. Depending on conditions, you can either take a short walk around the Pomeroy Lodge, go skating on the pond, rent snowshoes from Kananaskis Outfitters and try a short loop, or even take a lovely hike to nearby Troll Falls. Guided family hikes can also be arranged through Kananaskis Outfitters if you’re new to the area and would like to ensure you don’t get lost on the Village trails. Whichever option(s) you choose, make sure you warm up after at the coffee shop inside the lodge which also carries a wide variety of lunch options.
- Take a day trip out to Bragg Creek and the Elbow Valley. Follow Highway 22 to the Hamlet of Bragg Creek. From there, continue into Kananaskis Country on Highway 66 and drive as far as the highway permits. If you’re visiting before May 15, the road is open as far as the Elbow Falls Day Use Area. Visit the waterfalls, and then continue along the closed highway on foot (or on bike if the highway is clear of snow) until you reach the Beaver Lodge Day Use Area, and trailhead for the Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail (less than 500m down the highway). Hike the short trail along a creek, passing by several beaver ponds the kids will have fun playing in. The short trail is 3km round trip, but you can go as far as you want and return to the highway via the Beaver Flats Campground.
- Visit Calgary’s indoor bike park. The B-Line Indoor Bike Park in northeast Calgary is a great place to take the kids before local trails are ready to ride. The park combines elements of a skateboard park, a BMX track, and a mountain bike skills park (complete with pump track). The park rents BMX bikes if you don’t have a suitable bike to use, and it has features for all levels of riders from tots on balance bikes all the way up to teens or adults looking to catch big air. All features are clearly marked as beginner, intermediate, or advanced as well to make sure your children stay safe.
With all the options above, your family should be trying new activities and visiting new places around the city well into June!
Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to a spunky boy. 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. You can find her on Instagram @MountainMomYYC.
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