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Fall Hiking Necessities for Families

An autumn hike in Alberta’s Rockies can lead you through three different seasons in the course of a day. Weather can be very hard to predict, and as October approaches, the days get shorter. But your family can still enjoy some amazing Fall color hikes with a bit of careful planning and paying extra attention to safety.

Dressing for a Fall day hike

The number one rule when it comes to Fall hiking is to wear layers. Start with a tank top or polyester T-shirt, layer with a light, long sleeve shirt, and pack a fleece layer, rain jacket, and perhaps even a light puffy jacket or vest. Add or remove layers as needed to stay warm or cool.

  • Zip-off pants are a great choice for Fall hiking, so you can choose between pants or shorts on the trail.

  • Add a light toque, mitts, or gloves, and you should be prepared for anything mother nature throws at you on your hike.

  • Read trail reports before you go, chat with staff at visitor centres, ask around with friends for reliable and recent trip reports, and know what you’re getting into.

  • Consider halving the normal distance and length of time that your children would be able to hike in summer.

  • Make sure you can hike down whatever you have hiked up and that you can always get back to your car safely. There’s no harm in turning around because you weren’t expecting a foot of fresh snow so early in the season or because a trip is taking longer than you thought it would take. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Trail suggestions for Fall day hikes

The following areas are great for Fall day hikes because they tend to stay dry well through late October without early season snow building up on the trails. They are also close to Calgary, so you can enjoy a relaxed start to your day and still make it home in time for dinner:

1. The West Bragg Creek Trail Network (example: Ranger Summit or Boundary Ridge).

2. Trails in the Elbow Valley off Highway 66 past Bragg Creek (example: The Fullerton Loop, Nihahi Ridge, Powderface Ridge, The Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail, or the Paddy’s Flats Interpretive Trail).

3. Trails in the Bow Valley (example: Heart Creek, trails in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Grassi Lakes, or anything around Canmore).

4. Trails along Highway 40 between the Trans- Canada Highway and Kananaskis Village (example: Troll Falls, the Prairie View Trail at Barrier Lake, or any of the trails around Kananaskis Village).

5. Trails in Kananaskis south of Calgary (example: trails around the Sandy McNabb Campground in the Sheep River area).

Information on all of these trails can be found on the Alberta Parks website or you can stop in at a visitor centre to pick up a map or brochure. You can also find most trails on the All Trails website or app.

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,




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