Friday, June 12, 2020

Wild Adventures in the Elbow Valley, Kananaskis

We've all been to Elbow Falls,  the Fullerton Loop was probably one of your first family hikes in Kananaskis, and maybe your kids have even climbed Prairie Mountain. So let's drive a little further into the Elbow Valley and let me tell you about some of my favourite wild adventures where the pavement ends.

The best Elbow adventures begin where the pavement ends (Powderface Ridge)

Staging your Adventures from the Little Elbow Campground 


The Little Elbow Campground is very close to Calgary for a short weekend getaway. Located in the Elbow Valley outside Bragg Creek, you can be at camp Friday night in time to roast hot dogs over the fire for dinner.

There are 64 sites suitable for RVs or tents, along with 30 walk-in tenting sites. The campground is rustic with no showers, pit toilets, and only unserviced sites. All roads are gravel (so leave the scooters and skateboards behind.)

The Little Elbow Provincial Recreation Area is an amazing destination for a weekend trip with great trails you can access without ever having to leave your campsite.

The Elbow River is a lot of fun to play in with sandy beach areas and enough rocks to entertain the children for hours. The area under the suspension bridge in camp is especially fun.

The Little Elbow Provincial Recreation Area  is a great place to explore near Calgary

Hiking the Nihahi Ridge Trail 


This hike starts from the back of the Little Elbow Campground and it's a great tent to trail hike. If you're not staying in the campground, you'll have a kilometre long walk or bike ride to reach the trailhead from the parking lot near Forgetmenot Pond because there is no parking in the campground itself.

I love this hike because it's a great "choose your own adventure" outing. Start off on the official maintained trail and you can complete a relatively easy 5 km round trip hike (400 metres height gain) to a beautiful viewpoint along the ridge. There are a few steep parts so hike as far as you feel comfortable and turn around.

Hiking the Nihahi Ridge Trail in the Elbow Valley 

Continue beyond the end of the official trail and you can scramble up to a higher viewpoint along the ridge where most children will feel like they've climbed a mountain.

Note there is a hands on scrambling section you'll have to tackle to reach this viewpoint where there's a short cliff band resembling a staircase. There is also loose rock and scree along with steep hiking on unofficial trails.

The photo below is from this viewpoint after climbing up the first cliff band.

Nihahi Ridge viewpoint along the lower ridge

For families with significant scrambling and hiking experience you can scramble further to gain the actual ridge, climbing up a second cliff band (significantly more challenging than the first one.) From here it's a short walk along the airy ridge to the South Summit.

Going to the South Summit requires an additional 4.4 km of hiking (return) from the end of the official trail along with an additional 400 metres of height gain.

Read more here:




Airy ridge walking to the South Summit (our son was on a rope here)

Here's the Nihahi Ridge route on All Trails (which goes beyond the end of the official trail.)

And here's the Nihahi Ridge hike on the Alberta Parks website

Glorious ridge walking on Nihahi Ridge near the South Summit

Hiking Forgetmenot Ridge 


This is another great hike that starts right from the Little Elbow Campground. If you're driving out for the day, park at the Forgetmenot Pond day use area and hike across the suspension bridge to access the Big Elbow Trail. From there you'll start with a chilly ford of the Elbow River (for that reason alone I like to save this hike until later in the summer/fall when the river is low.)

This is a very steep hike and you'll gain 600 metres of height climbing up to the North Summit (as far as you'll want to go with children.) Round trip distance is 9 km.

The giant summit cairn on the North Summit of Forgetmenot Ridge 

Fortunately, the trail is relatively free of any technical challenges. There are no cliff bands, you won't have to use your hands at all, and you definitely won't need a rope to reach the summit!

Want to go further? You can hike an additional 3 km along the ridge to reach the South Summit (total distance of 15 km round trip.) Personally, the North Summit was plenty for us when we did the hike.

Crossing the Elbow River (which is quite low in fall)

Read more here:

Read: First Summits: Forget Me Not Ridge, Kananaskis 

Here's the Forgetmenot Ridge Route on All Trails (which goes beyond the north summit)


Hiking along the top of Forgetmenot Ridge 

Hiking Powderface Ridge


This official trailhead for this ridge starts at the end of highway 66 where the pavement ends (right before you drive into the Little Elbow Campground.) From this parking area it's a steep 600 metre climb (10 km round trip distance.)

For an easier outing, we always do a traverse via Three Trail Pass allowing us to gain only 400 metres of height, hiking across the ridge, and descending the official trail in a complete distance of 7 km.

The ridge walk is easy and very beautiful along Powderface Ridge

I love this hike because it's never very steep if you start from Three Trail Pass and there are no technical challenges.

Start and end from Three Trail Pass for the easiest hike (6 km round trip.)

Main Summit of Powderface Ridge


Below are the trail resources for this one:

This is the route for the official trail from Highway 66 on All Trails  (the distance assumes you are both ascending and descending this way.)

This is the route from Three Trail Pass on All Trails (the distance assumes you are returning the same way and the route goes beyond the main summit to the East summit.)

Put the two routes together to create your traverse from Powderface Trail to Highway 66. (note you'll need two vehicles.) If you don't have a second vehicle, I recommend starting and ending from Three Trail Pass because it's a steep slog from Highway 66.

This is the description from the Alberta Parks website (where there is a good map showing both trailheads.)


All kids love this big boulder that you'll pass by on your descent down to highway 66


Biking the Big Elbow Trail 


If you like mountain biking, you can bike a section of the Little Elbow Trail or the Big Elbow Trail, both wide gravel roads that start from the Little Elbow Campground.

We personally like biking on the Big Elbow Trail until we reach a beautiful viewpoint along the river. It's 8 km one way to the Big Elbow Campground but we've only biked the first 5 km for an easy round trip distance of 10 km.

Biking on the Big Elbow Trail from the Little Elbow Campground

We've also done this as an easy chariot hike and it was one of my favourite trips we did when my son was a toddler.

See the Big Elbow Trail on Trail Forks

Chariot hiking along the Big Elbow Trail in the early days 

Other Adventures near the Little Elbow Campground


We still have many trails that we haven't explored as a family. Below are a couple that you can check out if you want more suggestions for adventure from the Little Elbow Campground:

Ford Knoll Loop hike - 5.3 km loop with 200 metres of height gain. Starts from Forgetmenot Pond. This is a great option with little kids who aren't big enough for Nihahi Ridge.

Nihahi Creek Canyon bike and hike - Bike the Little Elbow Trail until you reach Nihahi Creek. Hike up the creek to the canyon for a fun adventure. All Trails says it is 16 km return but you can turn around before reaching the end of the canyon.

Forgetmenot Pond is a beautiful picnic area for a day trip

Picnic, paddling, and fishing at Forgetmenot Pond - This beautiful day use area has picnic tables, fire pits, easy trails for walking around with young children, and a small pond for fishing. You can also bring the stand up paddleboards or sit on top kayaks for the kids.

There's also a fun area to play at under the suspension bridge where there is a rocky beach area.

Beach below the suspension bridge in the Little Elbow Campground




















Thursday, May 28, 2020

Easy Family Paddling Day Trip on the Bow River through Banff

The Bow River can be challenging for novice paddlers, but there is a great beginner section upriver of the Town of Banff heading back into town. It's a beautiful day trip and a shuttle is easy to set up. Largely a float trip, you can even use a stand up paddleboard on this section of the river if you have experience with gentle moving water.

Easy floating down the Bow River in Banff National Park


The Shuttle:  Where to park for the put in and take out


The put in location is located approximately 6 km west of the Town of Banff. Continue on the TransCanada Highway past the Mount Norquay/Banff Townsite turnoff in the direction of Lake Louise.

You will come to the junction for the Hwy 1A (Bow Valley Parkway) and this is where you start paying attention. Shortly after this junction, you will cross the Bow River on the TransCanada Hwy bridge and then see a pull out on the right hand side of the highway. This is where you park and access the river via a gate in the wildlife fence.

It's very straight forward and as long as you are going westbound on the TransCanada Hwy, the parking pullout is easy to find as soon as you cross the bridge over the river.

Paddling near the put in spot, just past the TransCanada Bridge

For the take out, there are a few options:


  1. Leave a second vehicle wherever you can find a spot near the Banff canoe docks on Bow Ave in the Town of Banff or near Central Park in the large parking lot there. You can also park at the Banff Recreation Grounds which is a great spot to take your boat out of the water (with a large parking lot.) Just make sure you take out before going under the Banff Ave bridge in town lest you go over Bow Falls!

  2. Leave a second vehicle parked beside the First Vermilion Lake on Vermilion Lakes Road in the Town of Banff. (This is the first lake you'll come to.) If you're parking here, you'll be able to extend your paddle from the Bow River to Vermilion Lake via Echo and 40 Mile Creeks. (more information below.)

  3. Leave a bike at either option above and have an adult bike back for the vehicle. If doing this, I'd recommend leaving the bike on Vermilion Lakes Road. From here you continue biking to the end of the road, and hop on the Legacy Trail which ends at the junction with the Highway 1A. There's a short section of highway riding from there to reach your put in spot. (So I don't recommend having everybody bike back.)


This is the take out spot at the Banff Recreation Grounds near the Banff Avenue Bridge in town

Paddling the Bow River into the Town of Banff 


There are a few tricky spots in the first 15 minutes as you navigate a few tight corners with sweepers (logs that stick out from the corners) around the TransCanada Highway bridge. After that it is a fun little float and we've had lots of children use sit on top kayaks.

After you clear the first few corners, you pretty much have to paddle the entire time or the trip will take many hours.  It's one of those float trips where you could actually paddle upstream from the canoe docks in town and then float back down afterwards. (Something people do all the time!)

My son says this paddle is "boring" which is good news for novice paddlers. It means there are no rapids, there's no fast moving water, and you won't just be floating down the river without using your paddles.

The trip is easy enough for kids in sit on top kayaks 

I love that we can do this trip as a family and nobody is worried about falling in the river. It's a good stretch for children to try their first solo river paddle (provided they have plenty of lake experience) and you'll have lots of time to just chill and float along. When you get tired of floating, pick up your paddles and slowly move towards town.

Opportunities are plentiful for wildlife sightings on the river as well.

Floating down the Bow River into the Town of Banff 



Notes for choosing which kind of boat to use:


  • If you try to use a raft you'll have to paddle most of the time or else plan for a full day. Even then, I don't think you'll make it into town without using your paddles. If you want to use a raft, consider doing the next section from Banff to Canmore instead because it is much faster.

  • Sit on top kayaks are great for kids that have paddling experience. I'd recommend bringing a rope though because most children will get tired of paddling before they reach town. You'll end up towing them for sure!!

    Also, make sure your child knows how to steer and navigate a kayak before sending them down the river. They'll have to get around the bridge pillars passing under the highway bridge and they'll have to steer to shore to get off the river.

    And make sure you keep in mind that the water is glacial in temperature. I suggest the kids wear rain pants or wetsuits if using a sit on top kayak. And bring a change of clothes in case they fall in.

  • Stand up paddleboards are great for adults who have experience with gentle moving water.

  • Canoes or tandem kayaks are perfect for this trip.

This is a great family outing with friends 

Extending the trip to the First Vermilion Lake 


As you enter the Town of Banff, you'll see the canoe docks along Bow Avenue where the Banff Canoe Club rents boats. Either head right towards the Banff Recreation Grounds to take out, take out at the canoe club, or continue past the canoe club where you'll be following a gentle creek.

Paddling up Echo Creek towards the First Vermilion Lake 

Echo Creek heads up stream at this point, connecting with 40 Mile Creek further up, but the current is very gentle so you'll have no problems making your way up the creek.


We love paddling along peaceful Echo Creek towards the Vermilion Lakes 

Pass under the train bridge and you'll see 40 Mile Creek coming in from your right within 15 - 20 minutes. Head left as the creek empties you out into the First Vermilion Lake (where hopefully you have a car or a bike waiting.)

This channel takes you from the creek into Vermilion Lake 

Once you reach the lake, you can paddle around on the lake enjoying the views of Mount Rundle behind you. You can also follow a channel beside the road that takes you to the second lake. There is no way I've ever found to connect to the third lake.

The Vermilion Lakes are a great place to paddle with children


Safety Notes


  • While I've focused on this paddling adventure being "beginner friendly" I would advise practicing on a calm lake before heading out on moving water.

  • The Bow River is glacial fed and as such is freezing cold if you fall in. Be prepared with a change of clothes for each person in a dry bag.

  • Kids using sit on top kayaks should be dressed in rain pants and waterproof clothing (rain jackets, polyester pants and shirts, etc.)

  • Bring a rope for towing if you have children paddling in their own boats. (Don't use a rope until you're past the first bridge.)

  • Bring the normal safety gear required by the government (a throw rope, bailing device, and whistle is technically required in each vessel.)

  • Life jackets or PFDs should be worn by each person.

  • Paddle in a group so you can help one another in the event of an emergency.

  • Make sure any pets that come along feel comfortable in a boat! You don't want Fido to jump overboard.


Paddling the channel into the Second Vermilion Lake 


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Ten Day Trips for Spring Adventures Close to Calgary

We all want to get outside, but spring is always challenging with lingering snow on trails in Kananaskis, some still snowy enough that you could probably ski. Add this year's particular challenges with physical distancing, trying to avoid crowds, and wanting to "explore local," and it's really hard to come up with an idea for a weekend outing.

Spring is a great time to explore Bow Valley Provincial Park 


Start with the day trips below, my family's annual favorites for early spring hiking and exploring.





1. Start Local and Explore a New City Park or Natural Area


If everybody's healthy and you're not being asked to self-isolate, this is a great way to get outside close to home. Drive to a natural area  in a neighboring community. Maybe explore a park you've never visited before.

Check out some of my personal favourites in Calgary here: Calgary Urban Hikes  

Go for a walk on Nose Hill and find the First Nations Medicine Wheel

As with any hike at this time, please practice physical distancing and have a backup plan if the parking lot for your chosen park appears to be crowded. Please remember too that some parks won't have bathrooms open so be prepared for emergencies and pack everything out with you! Finally, you'll find much more solitude if you grab your hiking boots and get off the paved pathways!!

Recommended reading: Calgary's Best Walks 35 Brand New Urban Jaunts And Nature Strolls


Go for a walk or bike ride and discover the Split Rock in Confluence Park 


2. Explore the City Pathways on your Bikes


My son and I biked all the way from Tuscany in the far NW corner of Calgary all the way down to the Highway 22X below Fish Creek Provincial Park following the paved Bow River Pathway. It took us two days using Carburn Park in the SE as an ending/re-starting point but it gave us a goal for a weekend, and we discovered several new sections of the pathway system we'd never biked before.

I've created a giant list of paved pathways we want to bike in the city this summer and I suspect it'll actually take us till September to finish the list.

We've discovered many new parks and natural areas by biking across the city 

Recommended reading:  

Ten Epic Bike Pathways in Calgary - Tourism Calgary

City of Calgary Pathways and Bikeways Map 

Top 12 Bike Rides in Calgary - This Mom Bikes 

Suggested Pathway Routes in Calgary - City of Calgary


We love biking the Bow River Pathway through Calgary 

3. Explore Glenbow Ranch or Fish Creek Provincial Park 


You don't have to go far to access a provincial park. Fish Creek Provincial Park is located in South Calgary and  is one of the largest urban green spaces in North America. You'll find over 80 km of trails here including paved pathways, singletrack mountain bike trails, and wide gravel trails for walking or biking.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is located just outside NW Calgary on the way to Cochrane along the Highway 1A. It's a beautiful park with a scenic paved pathway that follows the north bank of the Bow River. There's a long hill down to the river from the parking lot but once you reach the bottom, it's relatively flat as your ride out and back towards Calgary.

There are also many hiking trails in Glenbow Ranch. Our favourite is the Tiger Lilly Loop, a short 1.4 km loop that starts from the Visitor Centre by the parking lot.

Early spring hiking in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park 

4. Discover the Trails and Pathways in Cochrane


We live in NW Calgary so we've been exploring the trails in Cochrane this spring. For hiking, we absolutely fell in love with the trails at the Cochrane Ranche. You can view the Cochrane Ranche Trail guide here and I recommend looking for the Grandfather Tree (number 9 on the map.)

We always start at the parking lot off the Highway 1A and hike a loop up towards the ranch house. From the ranch house you can continue further to complete the Cochrane Ranch Trail as shown on Trail Forks. It's a 6km loop and note that you'll be on private property once you start the back loop. Treat the trail with respect and do not bike this loop. We also did the back loop as an out and back on the right side of the creek. (We couldn't find a trail on the left side other than the gravel road.)

Go for an easy hike and discover the Grandfather Tree at Cochrane Ranche 

For biking, check out the beautiful paved trail through Riverfront Park. My suggestion would be to park at the large Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, biking carefully through the off leash dog park heading west, or to park at the small parking lot at the bottom of River Ave (north side of the river) at the far side of the dog park.

From the River Avenue Bridge, it's a beautiful 12km return bike ride along a paved pathway through Riverfront Park, past Mitford Pond (there's a big climb here,) and on to the Glen Boles Trail which ends at a beautiful viewpoint. The entire ride is paved and there are only a couple of big hills.

Most of the trail is quite flat. For the easiest ride with young children, just ride through Riverfront Park where there are no hills. There's a parking lot by the Highway 22 bridge north of the river.

You can get more information on the Cochrane Parks and Pathways page. Google maps also shows a dotted line along the entire route that you'll be biking.

Cochrane is a beautiful place to go for a bike ride along the Bow River 

 5. Spend a Day in Bow Valley Provincial Park


We love biking or hiking around the Bow Valley Campground off the TransCanada Hwy and Highway 1X. Park at the Middle Lake day use area and bike around on the quiet paved campground roads. They are open to vehicles as of May but they are very quiet. Cars will also be driving very slowly and will give cyclists plenty of space.

We like to bike to the Elk Flats Group Campground where you can have a picnic. We then continue on to the Many Springs Trailhead (bring a bike lock if you want to go for a short hike,) and then we head down to the river. From there we return through the campground.

Biking the quiet campground roads through the Bow Valley Campground 


You can also hike around the park, completing a loop with the Elk Flats, Bow River, and Moraine Trails. Add on the Middle Lake or Many Springs Loop to extend the distance. See the map here.


We love hiking the Moraine Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park 

Finally there is a paved bike trail that connects the Visitor Centre near the Highway 1X with the camp store. We like to bike around the campground from Middle Lake and then hop on the bike trail at the end to extend our ride. We return to Middle Lake on the road. This can all be done in a big loop of 12km. Alternately, park at the Visitor Centre and bike on the paved trail to the campground and over to the river for a picnic.

Note the bike path is very hilly and would not be appropriate for beginner riders.

** Author's current trail report: All trails in the Bow Valley Campground are dry, snow free, and without mud.


The paved bike path in Bow Valley Provincial Park is a very scenic trail


Other places to explore in Bow Valley Provincial Park:

  1. Hike the Flowing Waters Trail in the Willow Rock Campground off the Highway 1X across from the Bow Valley Campground.The Flowing Water Trail is a short 2.5 km interpretive loop

  2. Hike the Prairie View Trail above Barrier Lake off Highway 40. The Prairie View Trail climbs to a beautiful viewpoint over the lake and then continues on to a fire lookout. Expect some snow on this trail until things dry up. Ice cleats are currently recommended as of mid-May.

For other suggestions read The Best Trails in Bow Valley Provincial Park from the All Trails Website. Note you'll want to choose trails that don't gain too much height. Anything big (Heart Mountain, Mount Yamnuska, Mount Baldy...) will be snow covered.


The Prairie View Trail takes you to this beautiful viewpoint over Barrier Lake


6. Spend a Day in the Elbow Valley

 
There are several great day use areas and hiking trails outside Bragg Creek. Below are my current recommendations:

One.  Hike the Fullerton Loop from the Allen Bill Day Use Area.

This trail is very popular but it's also nice and wide to allow for safe passing. It's an easy trail for young children and has a nice viewpoint over the valley. You can also have a picnic down by the Elbow River after.


We've always loved the Fullerton Loop in the Elbow Valley


Two. Hike the Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail from the Paddy's Flat Campground.

Park at the closed campground gate (It doesn't open until June 1st this year) and hike down to the river. Hike along the Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail until it joins the Riverview Trail. This is a great place to practice physical distancing because you'll have a large campground to spread out in.

This is also a great place to bring the kids' bikes for some easy campground riding on gravel roads before it opens, and there are secret beaches along the river with beautiful sand.


We loved the Paddy's Flat Trail when my son was young


Three. Hike the Prairie Mountain Trail from the Elbow Falls parking lot.

Note it is still snow covered and ice cleats are recommended. This is also not a beginner hike. You'll gain 700 metres of height. The trail is also busy so go early or hike mid-week.

Read more here: First Summits: Prairie Mountain, Kananaskis 


We love the Prairie Mountain hike!


Four. Hike the Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail from the Beaver Lodge Day Use Area

The pull out for this small day use area is a 2 minute drive past the Elbow Falls parking lot. The short hiking trail takes you to the Beaver Flats campground and is a great hike with kids as you meander along beaver ponds (which are super fun to play in.) Bring sand toys. The full hike is less than 3 km return.

Alternately, the campground doesn't open until June 1st this year so you could park at the closed campground gate and hike down into the campground to reach the hiking trail.  You could even bring bikes to use around the campground. The roads are gravel, but easy to bike on. Kids usually enjoy biking on the Beaver Flats Trail too.


The Beaver Flats Trail has many small ponds that are fun to play in


Five Have a picnic at Forgetmenot Pond in the Little Elbow Campground.

This campground is closed until June 1st this year so it's a great place to explore and have a picnic. Go for a walk along the river, play in the sand underneath the suspension bridge, or head towards the Nihahi Ridge Trailhead at the back of the E loop (which might still have snow along the ridge until early June this year.)

I'd also bring bikes because this would be a great place to explore quiet roads while the campground is closed. You can also go for a short out and back ride on the Big Elbow Trail, a wide gravel road, until you reach a beautiful open area along the Elbow River. I believe the campground roads are also gravel.


We love playing along the river in the Little Elbow Campground 


7. Go for a Walk around Kananaskis Village or Ribbon Creek


Kananaskis Village is a beautiful place to walk around with many trails in the area. You can also start from the Ribbon Creek parking lot below the Village for a nice walk along Ribbon Creek. There are lots of bridges in the first couple of kilometres until you reach the junction with the Kovach Trail. You can make a 5.5 km loop as well with the Ribbon Creek, Kovach, and Terrace Trails. (See the loop here on All Trails.)

Note that the Troll Falls Trail is currently closed but you can still hike the Hay Meadows Trail to have a picnic beside the Kananaskis River.

Last I heard the paved Bill Milne Trail still had snow on it, but you can definitely walk this easy trail.

The Pomeroy Kananaskis Lodge is reopening as of May 15th but services are limited and I understand the coffee shop will not be open yet.


We like exploring along the Hay Meadows Trail from Ribbon Creek


8. Bike Highway 40 in South Kananaskis before the Highway opens


We love biking on closed highways and roads in spring. It's a great way to self-distance yourself from others too when you're on a big road with space for miles! (Much easier than on a narrow bike path in the city!)

Highway 40 west of Longview doesn't open to vehicles until June 15th. Park at the winter gate at Highwood Junction and ride as far as you get, returning when the kids get tired. You'll have some very big hills in both directions so save energy for the return ride. We like to ride as far as the Cat Creek day use area where we then hike in to see the falls.

Read: Biking to Cat Creek Falls on Highway 40


Biking closed highways is always a favourite spring activity for us


9. Take a Day Trip to Sheep River Provincial Park south of Calgary


For families who live in South Calgary, this is a beautiful corner of Kananaskis. It's similar in vibe to the Elbow Valley but sees a third of the traffic and crowds.

Take a drive along the scenic Sheep River Road heading west from Turner Valley, and find a new favourite day use area. We love the Sheep River Falls Day Use Area and these waterfalls are way more spectacular than Elbow Falls!

You can have a picnic by the Sheep River as well from numerous day use areas along this highway.


Sheep River Falls is beautiful in spring!


10. Explore the Sibbald Creek Region of Kananaskis


This is a lesser-known area of Kananaskis and there are a few nice little hiking trails out this way. The turnoff for the Sibbald Creek Trail (Highway 68) is also a short drive for Calgary, 20 minutes west of Calaway Park. We like the Sibbald Lake Day Use Area located beside a quiet campground that will be closed until June.

From Sibbald Lake you can either hike the Sibbald Flat Interpretive Trail or continue on to the Deer Ridge Trail where you climb up to a pretty viewpoint along the ridge.


Deer Ridge is a lovely hike in a quiet corner of Kananaskis 


If you choose to visit provincial parks, please follow the guidelines and information below:

  • You should be healthy if you are leaving your house to visit parks. If you have any Covid-19 symptoms please stay home.

  • Avoid the mountain towns of Canmore and Bragg Creek. Go straight to the trailhead and back home again. (Banff National Park is closed for hiking right now and they currently have check stops at all entrances to the Town of Banff where you'll be turned away if you try to access the town.)

  • There are not many bathrooms open in the provincial parks right now. Go to the bathroom before you leave home and bring emergency supplies with you in case somebody in your family needs them. This should include wipes, toilet paper, plastic bags, and hand sanitizer. You will be packing everything home with you (and that includes your used toilet paper, diapers or a pile of poo!!)

  • Pack your garbage home with you! Not all garbage cans are being emptied.

  • Wear gloves if filling up with gas before you go. Stock your vehicle with hand sanitizer as well in case you have to touch anything while away from home.

  • Have a plan A, B, C, and D! If you get to a trailhead and the parking lot is already full,  please consider choosing a different trailhead or hike. Yes, people do separate once they get on the trail, but Alberta Parks could shut everything down again if they see hundreds of cars in a parking lot on a Saturday afternoon!

  • Avoid popular trails on a weekend and try to hike outside of peak times. Get an early start or head out later in the afternoon.

  • Carpooling is NOT physical distancing. Hiking with a group of friends is also challenging with physical distancing unless you focus really hard on keeping the recommended 2-metre distance from one another or you restrict your group activities to one cohort family as recommended by our Alberta Chief Medical Officer.

  • Remember that bears are waking up and starting to move around for the spring. Bring bear spray with you and make lots of noise.





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