Spring in Canmore can mean mountain biking or Nordic skiing, depending on the day. But no matter what, you can expect fun and fantastic views! Here are some ideas for Spring family fun in Canmore - only one hour from Calgary!
Bike the Legacy Trail to Banff. This scenic, paved bike path is suitable for towing a Chariot or riding with bigger kids as there aren’t many large hills. Start at Canmore’s Travel Alberta Visitor Information Centre (26.8 kilometres one way to Banff), Valleyview Picnic Area (12.4 kilometres one way), or Cascade Ponds (4.8 kilometres one way). After exploring Canmore’s sister city, enjoy a tailwind on the way back, or hop on ROAM Transit Route 3 at Banff High School Transit Hub. All buses have bike racks! The Legacy Trail is typically bikeable starting mid-April. To check the Banff Trail Report for current conditions, visit pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/cyclismeroute-roadcycling/Heritage-Legacy.
Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre features Canmore’s history and geology in displays, videos, and hands-on exhibits. Kids can complete a fun scavenger hunt to earn a prize, dress up like miners, and more. Complete the experience with a short walk to the North Western Mounted Police Barracks (400 metres) or highly-Instagrammed Canmore Engine Bridge (850 metres). For more information, visit canmoremuseum.com.
Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk is a beautiful nature escape. While you could do a 3.9-kilometre loop, my family likes starting near the Big Head Sculpture by The Grizzly Paw Pub (great lunch spot) and walking to Spring Creek Bridge. This 1.2-kilometre round trip walk follows the creek and offers fantastic views of the Three Sisters as you head east. Return the way you came. For more information, visit explorecanmore.ca/listings/policemans-creek-boardwalk.
Canmore Nordic Centre is a year-round outdoor playground. Cross-country ski or fatbike until late April; then return for mountain biking, disc golf, roller skiing, and orienteering when the trails dry out. Rentals and lessons are available; book in advance on weekends. Note that trail fees are in effect for cross-country and skate skiing from 9am until 5pm. For more information, visit albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/canmore-nordic-centre-pp.
Elevation Place is a state-of-the-art indoor playground where you can swim, climb, and work out. This gorgeous facility boasts a large aquatic centre, gym, and climbing centre with routes for all skill levels. If you’re new to climbing, sign up for a climbing lesson! For more information, visit canmore.ca/recreation-facility/elevation-place.
Grassi Lakes. Hike to a waterfall, emerald-green ponds, and pictographs on this popular short trail. The “Easy” Trail is an old road that is sports-stroller friendly, while the “More Difficult” Trail has stairs and passes a pretty waterfall. Note that the “More Difficult” Trail is subject to ice flows and closures during winter conditions. Distance: 3.8-kilometre round trip, Elevation gain: 125 metres. For more information, read playoutsideguide.com/2019/11/hiking-grassi-lakes-trail-canmore.
Quarry Lake Park. Puppy can play at Quarry Lake Park! In addition to 5 kilometres of walking trails, there is a large off-leash area. When it warms up, enjoy the sandy beach, stand-up paddle boarding, or a lakeside picnic. For more information, visit quarrylakecanmore.ca.
Heart Creek Bunker is a unique hike near Canmore that takes you to two large caverns in the side of Mount McGillivray. Originally built to house sensitive documents during the Cold War, the project was later abandoned due to moisture and funding. Bring bright headlamps and only go when the slope leading to the bunker is snow-free (the opening is on an avalanche slide path). Distance: 3.8 kilometres round trip, Elevation gain: 94 metres. For more information, read playoutsideguide.com/2016/11/bow-valley-bunker.
Canmore Mountain Market is the place for produce, baked goods, and local arts and crafts. Catch it every Thursday from May 21 to October 1, 2020, 10am to 6pm in downtown Canmore (902, 7 Avenue). For more information, visit canmore.ca/residents/mountain-market.
Know before you go
Spring is avalanche season! Check trail and avalanche reports before you head out.
Weather and road conditions change rapidly in the mountains. Be prepared with warm layers, extra mittens and socks (especially for younger kids), water, snacks, first-aid kit, headlamps, and a map. Keep a shovel, battery booster, and windshield wiper fluid in your car.
I hope you have a safe and fun trip to Canmore!
Karen is a Calgary-based blogger and travel writer who was born in the boonies and grew up granola. A mother and lover of maps, mountains, and mochas, Karen is always planning her next road trip (if she isn’t currently on one). Follow her adventures at playoutsideguide.com.
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