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It's Picnic Season in Kananaskis

When you think of having a picnic in Kananaskis, what first comes to your mind? If it’s Elbow Falls, you aren’t alone. The popular picnic site is crowded and filled to capacity with Calgarians every weekend from May through September. Wouldn’t you love to find a different picnic spot, though, that is just as beautiful, equally close to the city and much less busy? Enter Allen Bill Pond.

Where is Allen Bill Pond? The Pond is located in the Elbow Valley west of Bragg Creek along Highway 66. It is 9.7 kilometres west of the intersection of Highways 22 and 66. It is actually closer to Bragg Creek than Elbow Falls and the day-use area is open year round. I would choose Allen Bill Pond as my first choice for my next picnic and encourage you to check it out as well. The picnic sites have fire pits and are situated around a lovely pond with scenic views of the foothills and Rocky Mountains. The pond is great for fishing, and you’ll find people floating around the pond in their hip waders and tubes. I’ve also seen canoes and row boats out on the pond. For more information on fishing, contact Alberta Fish and Wildlife at 403-297-6423. If you plan on starting a fire, make sure you bring your own wood. As with all day-use areas, firewood is not provided.

The pond has a paved trail around it for walking that brings you up-close to the Elbow River for beautiful family photos. Many of the more private picnic sites will require walking around the pond so if you choose one of those sites, you’ll need a wagon to transport your food and gear. Otherwise, there are picnic sites on the pond right beside the parking lot for those less inclined to haul their cooler long distances. The total distance around the pond wouldn’t be more than 2 kilometres for those wanting to wear off a few calories from their hot dogs and marshmallows.

If you are in the mood for a longer hike, Allen Bill Pond is also the starting point for the popular Fullerton Loop Hike. The Hike Alberta website lists the hike as moderate with a distance of 6.5 kilometres and 364 metres of elevation gain. It’s one of my family’s favorite spring hikes and we’ve even pushed our Chariot™ around the loop. If you decide to take your Chariot™ or stroller, it raises the hike’s rating to strenuous in my mind. You’ll need a second set of hands breaking on the steep downhill sections, and we had to lift the Chariot™ up and over a fallen tree on our last hike. Note that there are no bikes allowed on the trail. Cyclists have plenty of other options nearby.

Lastly, younger children will enjoy playing in the sand beside the pond, throwing rocks in the water and running along the shore. It’s worth a day trip just to play by the water.

Other great picnic sites in Kananaskis

Ribbon Creek, Spray Valley Provincial Park –
Hiking and biking trails, access for Troll Falls hike, fire pits, close to Kananaskis Village.

Quarry Lake, Canmore – Bring everything for a day at the beach. Plan to swim on hot days. No fire pits and few tables so bring a blanket for an old-fashioned picnic.

Canoe Meadows, Bow Valley Provincial Park –
Lots of paddling action on the Kananaskis River to watch, hiking trail along the shore, fire pits.

Boulton Bridge day-use area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park –
Fire pits, hiking along Boulton Creek, ice cream at the Boulton Creek Trading Post.

Cat Creek day-use area, Cat Creek Provincial Recreation Area –
Access point for the lovely Cat Creek waterfall hike, fire pits beside the Highwood River. A great place for kids to throw rocks in the river. Note - Cat Creek Highway #40, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to Highwood House Junction is closed until June 14, 2012 inclusive.

Sheep Falls day-use area, Sheep River Provincial Park – Waterfalls are a short walk from the day-use area and are much bigger than Elbow Falls. Lovely picnic site with fire pits. Note – Sheep River Falls Highway #546, west of Sandy McNabb campground is closed until May 14, 2012 inclusive.

I hope to see you out there this summer!

Tanya loves hiking, camping, skiing and all things mountain-related. Tanya is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, and the creator of the Calgary Family Adventure Community on Facebook.


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