Summer is finally upon us here in the Canadian Rockies and families and other adventurers are anxious to get out and make the most of our short summer. My family has discovered that our kids, ages 4 and 6 appear to be ready to hit the hiking trails. Here is a list of great age-appropriate hikes for the younger set in Banff National Park:
1) Bow Lake: This trail meanders along the shores of Bow Lake just off the Icefield Parkway and across a number of streams as the water flows down from Bow Glacier. A set of steep stairs at the end takes hikers to a natural bridge formed when a massive boulder lodged itself in the top of the canyon, then up to the base of the falls. The route was about 8km round trip and took us about 3 hours as it's nice and flat.
2) Chephren Lake: The initial ascent from the water's edge seemed daunting but the trail soon levelled out and it was easy-going from there to the lake. The trail is wet and muddy and criss-crossed with roots, but the proximity to the face of Howse Peak makes for great echos which kept us laughing all the way to the lake. The route from Waterfowl Lakes campground on the Icefield Parkway was about 7 km round trip and took us just under 3 hours.
3) Lake Agnes: This one is next on our list. Although the elevation gain is dramatic, we're convinced they're ready for it. The stunning views along the way of Victoria Glacier and Lake Louise will make short but scenic stops along the route easy. And the lure of fresh baked pie at the tea house is a tough one to match! The trail is 7km with some steep sectons and switchbacks. We anticpate this one could take us about 5 hrs, depending on how good the pie is.
4) Tunnel Mountain: A local family fave, the kids are able to get to the top of a mountain in just over an hour's time. That sense of accomplishment makes for great motivation and it's fun to hear them tell Grandma & Grandpa "I summitted a mountain today!" Trail is about 3km round trip, with lots of UP (and subsequent DOWN) and takes about 2 hrs for the little ones.
While I admit there were times we had to rely on some tried-and-true kid-friendly jokes to keep them going and the promise of chocolate once we were finished, but all-in-all, we were impressed with how far and how fast those little legs can go. Yes, I believe we're ready to tackle a CMH Family Adventure!
Do you have some favourite family-friendly hikes in the Canadian Rockies? If so, share them in the comments here?
Photo: On the trail to Bow Glacier.