Easy Hiking in the Canadian Rockies with Kids
Being an outdoors loving family our holidays/travels are mostly based on being in nature, exploring the unknown paths and trying to get a good feel of the way the locals live.
With young twins it is vital that we can be outside as much as possible. And what a better way to explore a foreign area than hiking.
One of our upcoming trips in 2019 will be Canada and three weeks will be in the Canadian Rockies. I have tried to research ” Easy Hiking in the Canadian Rockies with Kids” but the results were disappointing. As easy hiking in the Canadian Rockies with kids is on the very top of our activity list I needed to find some trails that suit us as a family.
This is why I reached out to some fantastic bloggers that know the area well who can help me find some of the most amazing family friendly hikes. When planning to hike in the Canadian Rockies with kids, it is important to know the length of the route and whether it is safe.
Below you will find 8 family friendly hikes from Jasper all the way to Canmore.
If you have another great hike we should not miss, let me know and I will happily add it to this list of “Easy Hiking in the Canadian Rockies with Kids” I am hoping when we’re in the area we will be able to hike all of them plus more, so we can add them as well and maybe even update some of the already mentioned hikes with special features or things that have changed.
1 ✽ Athabasca Glacier :: Jasper National Park
While exploring easy hiking in the Canadian Rockies with kids, a must-stop is the Athabasca Glacier along the Icefields Parkway. The glacier is the largest in North America and the most accessible glacier in the Canadian Rockies. The glacier is located along the Continental Divide and straddles Jasper and Banff National Parks. While it is receding at a very fast pace (5 meters per year), it is still the most visited glacier in the region.
One of the best ways to explore the Athabasca Glacier is to hike to the glacier’s edge on the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier hike. The hike is family friendly but stay on the trail as there are dangerous crevices. The hike is a gentle uphill and is 2 km roundtrip. The hike takes roughly 1 – 1.5 hours to complete.
During the summer months, there are snowcoach tours and guided walks that go on top of the glacier. These tours originate from the Icefield Interpretive Centre a few kilometers from the toe of the glacier. In the winter months, tours are not available. With careful exploration, you can snowshoe to the edge of the glacier. In some years, the summer months melt incredible shapes and even massive caves which can be seen up close only during the winter.
The Athabasca Glacier is one of the Canadian Rockies most unique places to visit. Don’t miss it while exploring this stunning area of Canada!
2 ✽ Emerald Lake :: Yoho National Park
There are many beautiful hikes and lakes within Yoho National Park. One of the most memorable and easy walks to experience towering mountains and picturesque scenery is Emerald Lake.
A smooth, flat and well-maintained walking track follows the entire shoreline of Emerald Lake and gives gorgeous views of steep mountains in the distance. Walking around the lake can take anywhere from one hour to two or three if you want to stop and soak in the sights. The loop begins right from the car park and ends at the same place. Being such an easy trail, it is suitable for every age and fitness level and has to be on the “easy hiking in the Canadian Rockies with kids ” list.
Emerald Lake is a super short drive from the British Columbia town of Field. Just follow the Trans Canada Highway and turn off onto Emerald Lake Road. Keep on this road until the end, where you will find the car park.
If you’re looking for more activities after you finish the stunning trek, you can take it a little further and hire a canoe to get unique photo opportunities of Emerald Lake.
For an unforgettable hiking experience of British Columbia, make sure to put Emerald Lake high up your list of Canadian must-see destinations!
3 ✽ Johnston Canyon :: Banff National Park
Johnston Canyon is an easy, family-friendly hike between Banff and Lake Louise that offers multiple viewpoints of waterfalls. The trail begins with a short climb through the forest, then descends and stays close to Johnston Creek all the way to Lower Falls (1.1KM each way). There, you can cross the creek and walk through a natural tunnel for an up-close view of the falls (warning: you will get wet)! The trail continues all the way to Upper Falls (2.7km each way) where there are two viewpoints to see the gorgeous waterfalls. Hike another 5 minutes up to see the waterfalls from above, or continue the tail to the Ink Pots, a natural mineral springs that differ in color because each pool fills at a different rate.
When hiking the Canadian Rockies with Kids Johnston Canyon is a must. You’ll pass through breathtaking limestone cliffs and canyons. This hike is great for families because it’s stroller-friendly and paved. You’ll walk along sturdy iron catwalks suspended from the canyon wall, where the waters of the creek flow beneath your feet. Along the way, you’ll find strategically placed lookouts where you can take in the sights and capture photos, while the sturdy railings keep everyone safe.
Johnston Canyon is just a half hour drive from Banff. The hike is open year-round, but if you’re heading there in the summer it’s best to go early as possible as the trail is very popular. If you visit Johnston Canyon during the winter you’ll be rewarded with fewer people and different scenery, as the snow covers the forest and rocks. Nearby the upper falls you can watch ice climbers make their way up to the top. Whatever season you choose to go, Johnston Cayon is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Banff.
Recommended by Lora from Explore with Lora.
4 ✽ Lake Moraine :: Banff National Park
The Moraine Lake Lakeshore hike is an easy hike that is absolutely stunning. It is a flat trail with no elevation change, so is perfect for hiking in the Canadian Rockies with kids. It’s only 1.5 km one way/ 3 km return. It’s proof that hikes don’t need to be tough to be amazing. Lake Moraine is a bright turquoise lake set dramatically at the base of the Ten Peaks (all over 3,000 meters high) and the Fay Glacier. The enormous craggy peaks rise straight out of the lake and frame one side of the bright blue alpine water. The trail starts at the Moraine Lake parking lot and follows the shoreline of the lake, through the edge of the pine forest that surrounds the other half of the lake. The trees give some shade on hot sunny days. Logs pile up at the lake shore in part and piles of rocks jut into the lake at points, creating a fun foreground for the brightly colored water and the awe-inspiring peaks behind.
Moraine Lake is open spring-fall only. The access road is closed during winter (November to late April) because of the risk of avalanches. The lake is 14 km from Lake Louise. There’s a free shuttle in autumn only from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake. The parking lot can get full in summer and late September (for the fall color), so get there early.
Recommended by James Ian from Travel Collecting
5 & 6 ✽ Lake Louise :: Banff National Park
There are actually two easy hikes at Lake Louise that are perfect for families and first-time hikers. Lake Louise is stunning. The lake itself is a captivating milky emerald green color. At one end is the famous and magical Chateau Lake Louise hotel. At the other end is the dramatic Victoria Glacier. Early in the morning, the lake is often a perfect mirror. Both of the hikes are wonderful ways to experience the beauty of the lake.
The first hike, the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail is an easy flat trail around the shore of the lake. It starts at the Upper Lake Louise parking lot, near the hotel and winds around the shore of the lake for 2km one way (4 km return) to the milky creek that gives Lake Louise its colour. The hike takes about an hour in total and is actually wheelchair accessible.
The second hike is the Fairview Lookout hike. At 1 km each way (2 km return), this is shorter hike, and only takes about 45 minutes; however, it does have a slight elevation change (about 100 m). This is still an easy trail, though, perfect for families. The trail also leaves from the hotel, from the boathouse, but goes around the other shore, uphill through the trees that surround that part of the lake. The hike ends at the Fairview Lookout, where there are wonderful views of the lake and the Chateau Lake Louise hotel.
Recommended by James Ian from Travel Collecting
7 ✽ Peyto Lake :: Banff National Park
Peyto Lake Lookout is one of the easiest, yet rewarding hikes you will do at the Canadian Rockies. The lookout paints a beautiful picture of a stunning bright blue, turquoise lake with surrounding mountains. It is a favorite hike and for a good reason. I recommend getting here as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
Peyto Lake is located in Banff National Park near the Icefields Parkway (which is one of the most beautiful highways I might add). The Parking is located at the “Bow Pass Parking” which has restrooms and a map. The hike is about 2.7 km, has an 80m elevation gain, and takes about a half hour to complete. The trail is family friendly and well maintained. When you arrive at the viewpoint, a deck was constructed, but, you can usually venture out a bit to get away from the crowds.
Peyto Lake is one of those “must stop’ at destinations in the Candian Rockies. The easily accessible views are what makes it one of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies.
8 ✽ Policemen’s Creek :: Canmore
Canmore is a sister town to the famous Banff National Park of Canada. Located in the heart of Canmore town is the beautiful Policemen’s Creek. Policemen’s Creek is an easy hiking trail, about 4 kms one way. The creek has a wooden boardwalk that takes you through the hike. On the way, you can be see birds swimming and the beautiful mountain views.
This short family friendly hike is accessible in all seasons – summer or winter. The boardwalk is guarded and is perfect for families and new hikers – an ideal slow pace exploration. Dogs on lease are allowed here as well.
The entrance to the hiking trail is opposite to the Big Head Sculpture, located on the main street. At the end of the hiking trail, there is a foot bridge leading to a residential community. This bridge is an ideal spot for photography – you can capture the stunning Three (3) Sisters Peak from here. You can also go underneath the foot bridge to enjoy the enjoy. This creek water could be frozen during winters, so exercise caution while assessing the footbridge and the broadwalk.
Now you might wonder, why it is called the Policemen’s Creek? Well, this creek is located near North West Mounted Police Barracks, which is now a museum and also the oldest standing barrack in Western Canada. Hence the name – Policemen’s Creek.
Hiking gear we recommend
To make your hiking in the Canadian Rockies with kids even more enjoyable, go prepared. Below you find just a few of our top items we always carry with us when hiking, no matter the area or the weather.
Don’t forget, if you know an easy hike in the Canadian Rockies that is kids friendly and should be on this list, get in touch and I will gladly add it.
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