It’s not too early to start thinking about hiking again for another season. Many trails in Kananaskis come into condition by March or early April, and you’ll find plenty of solitude hiking in the ‘shoulder season’ rather than in the middle of summer. Check out these suggested trails and put some on your list for Spring Break this year!
Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley. This 1.5-kilometre out and back trail is guaranteed to fascinate small children with its string of ponds and beaver dams connected by an enchanting creek that you’ll follow the length of the hike. When Highway 66 from Bragg Creek is open past Elbow Falls, you’ll be able to park right at the Beaver Lodge trailhead. Before May 15, 2015, however, you’ll have to park at the winter closure gate, which is located right at the driveway down to Elbow Falls. From the gate, it is a short 500-metre walk to the Beaver Lodge trailhead along the closed highway. If it is snow-free, this is a good place for an early season bike ride with no cars.
If you have children that like to be in the water rather than looking at the water, make sure you bring appropriate clothing and rubber boots. The creek and ponds are a lot of fun to play in on a warm sunny day. Sand toys and pails are recommended for children that want to get interactive with the ponds. For more information, visit the Alberta Parks website, www.albertaparks.ca/elbow-falls/information-facilities/trails/beaver-flats-interpretive.aspx.
Troll Falls, Kananaskis Village. A sunny trail through Hay Meadows takes you to the frozen Troll Falls. Lots of fun can be had along the Kananaskis River as well as at the falls. The trail starts at the Stoney Trailhead below Kananaskis Village and from here, you can either get on the Troll Falls trail or the Hay Meadows trail to make a loop. If the trail is snow-free, this is a great bike trail for the kids and popular with young children on balance bikes.
To reach the Stoney Trailhead, drive out toward Kananaskis Village on Highway 40 and take the signed turnoff for the Village onto Mt. Allan Drive. Rather than turning left for the Village, go straight as for Nakiska Resort. You’ll see the Stoney Trailhead on your right.
The hike is a 4-kilometre loop if parked at Ribbon Creek but you’ll cut off close to a kilometre by parking at the Stoney Trailhead. For more information on the hike, visit the Alberta Parks website, www.albertaparks.ca/evan-thomas/information-facilities/trails/skogan-ruthie%27s-troll-falls-hay-meadow-loop.aspx.
Paddy’s Flat Interpretive Trail, Elbow Valley. This easy hike follows the Elbow River below the Paddy’s Flat Campground. Little bridges and creek crossings guarantee the hike to be a success with small children. This campground is easily found between the Allen Bill Pond Day Use Area and the Elbow Falls Day Use Area on Highway 66 out of Bragg Creek. Before May 15, 2015, you’ll have to park at the campground gate and hike through the closed campground to reach the trail. It adds a bit of distance but if you go before the snow melts, you can take a sled if you want. If sledding, remember, helmets on heads! From the gate, hike toward the playground which is located in Loop C, across from the trailhead to the hiking trail. Bring a lunch and enjoy the day down by the river. For more information, visit the Alberta Parks website, www.albertaparks.ca/elbow-river/information-facilities/trails/paddy%27s-flat-interpretive.aspx.
Heart Creek Interpretive Trail, Kananaskis. Seven bridges and a hidden waterfall - what’s not to like? In fact, I challenge you to reach the end of this hiking trail with small kids. There’s so much water to play in you’ll likely only get halfway at most before your family decides they just want to play in the creek, throw rocks in the water or even spend an hour scrambling on small boulders. Expect some lingering snow early season, a lot of water and some icy sections. Cleats, yak trax or icers are always a good idea when Spring hiking. For good driving instructions and a trail description, visit the Alberta Parks website, www.albertaparks.ca/heart-creek/information-facilities/trails/heart-creek.aspx.
See you on the trails!
Tanya is a freelance writer and mom to a spunky six-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, www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com.
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