Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Holiday Gift Guide for Happy Campers

I'm back with another one of my annual holiday gift guides, and this year I've decided to focus on camping as my theme. I've collected a large list of Christmas gift ideas for families who enjoy tenting, RV camping, and backpacking.

As always, there are also some great giveaways. Read to the bottom to enter the contests. There is also an outdoor family link up at the end of this post so scroll down to find other gift guides and giveaways this holiday season.

Holiday Gift Guide for Happy Campers 

All links go to the product or company website. A few links go to the Amazon Canada website (If you choose to purchase anything off Amazon I might make a few pennies off the purchase, but please feel free to shop wherever works for your family.)

You'll also find many links for products off the All Out Kids Gear website, where I'm an affiliate partner. Altitude Sports has also been a huge supporter of this blog so you'll find links to their website as well. Shop from either company where you can order quality outdoor gear and clothing online across Canada.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Happy Campers

1. Leatherman Multi-tools and Knives (with giveaway)

Learning to use a pocket knife is a valuable skill for older children, and whittling by the campfire can be a fun source of entertainment. For us parents, a good multi-tool is one of the most basic "must have" items in a day pack or on a backpacking trip.

Enter to WIN a Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool
The Leatherman Squirt is a small keychain-size multi-tool. Tools include pliers, scissors, a screwdriver, knife, bottle opener, and a file. This small multi-tool is perfect for snipping fishing line, and is nice and light for backpacking.

Alternately, the Leatherman Micra is perfect for a stocking stuffer gift. With a small knife, tweezers, a nail file, scissors, and a bottle opener, this is an item that should be in any mom's purse or day pack.

Finally, for the full meal deal, check out the Leatherman Signala full-size multi-tool which includes a firestarter, hammer, one-handed blade and an emergency whistle. Alternately, take a look at the Leatherman Free, P4, "the most advanced multipurpose tool ever made." This multi-tool comes with 21 tools and yet weighs in at only 8.6 ounces (making it ideal for backpacking.)

*** Proceed to the bottom of this gift guide to ENTER TO WIN a Leatherman Signal full size multi-tool.

Leatherman Multi-Tools make great Christmas gifts for your camping adventures (winter or summer!)

2. New Sleeping Bags, Sleeping Pads, or a New Tent (with giveaway) 

With technologies always improving, it's safe to say most of us could appreciate a new sleeping bag that's either warmer, more lightweight for backpacking, easier to compress, or just more comfortable. The same can be said for sleeping pads! I upgraded a few years ago and I sleep so much better on my much thicker (yet somehow lighter in weight) sleeping pad.

You'll find a great collection of sleeping bags and sleeping pads for the whole family from All Out Kids Gear (follow the links above) with free shipping included.

And I'd especially like to highlight one of the coolest things I've seen for parents who want to co-sleep with younger children. The Big Agnes Dream Island double wide sleeping bag is a nice roomy bag with an  integrated pad coupler that can accept a double-wide sleeping pad.

Finally, you'll find a great collection of tents for all family-sizes from the All Out Kids Gear website.

*** Proceed to the bottom of this gift guide to ENTER TO WIN a $60 gift card to use online from All Out Kids Gear.

Invest in a new tent or upgrade your sleeping bags and pads this Christmas 

3. New Backpacks or Hydration Packs 

My son got his first overnight backpack from his grandpa a few years ago and it was a fabulous Christmas present. Last year I was asking for a new day pack for mountain biking, and my husband recently updated his overnight pack as well.

Regardless of who you're shopping for in your family, there's almost always a need for a new backpack of some kind or size. 

You'll find no shortage of great packs on the All Out Kids Gear website so take a look around and see if there's something you're missing. Maybe the kids just need a bigger pack. 

I also recommend hydration packs for the kids for day hikes. My son doesn't carry a huge pack when we're out for the day, but he does need to carry his own water, a few basic items, and most importantly, his own candy!

Backpacks are a great Christmas gift for anybody!

4. Hydro Flask Products for Camping and Backpacking  (with giveaway) 

We LOVE our Hydro Flask products and have used several different items from this company while both car camping and backpacking.

Some of my favourite items are below (with links to the Altitude Sports website where Canadians can easily order Hydro Flask products.)

25 Ounce Wine Bottle - Fits a full bottle of wine and keeps it perfectly chilled. Great for overnight paddle trips when you won't notice the extra weight. I've also used this bottle for cold brew coffee and taken it with me to the beach while camping.

10 Ounce Wine Tumblers - Each tumbler comes with an insulated lid and these cups are worth their weight in gold! I use these tumblers for car camping and my wine is always the perfect temperature (even sitting out in the sun.)

64 Ounce Beer Growler - One of our favourite things to do on camping trips is to stop at local micro breweries along the road. Having a growler in the trailer allows us to fill up at each brewery (even if they don't sell bottles to go.) The growler also allows you to take beer on overnight paddling trips without having to worry about keeping cans cold. The Hydro Flask growler keeps beer at an ideal temperature for a few days.

Stop at micro breweries on the road and fill your Hydro Flask Growler for cold bevies at camp

16 Ounce Pint Cups - Enjoy a cold beverage in these double wall insulated cups. Perfect for folks like me who take a while to nurse their beer and don't want it getting warm in the sun.

12 Ounce Coffee Mugs - Enjoy your morning coffee in one of these insulated mugs with a lid to prevent spills. I can't think of a better coffee mug for camping!

12 Ounce Food Flasks - I have a child who will not eat sandwiches while camping, hiking, or when on the go. Having a food flask in the trailer saves our butt on every trip. They also come in an 18 ounce model. 

18 Ounce Standard Water Bottles - While these bottles are a little heavy for hiking, they're perfect for hydrating around the campsite and for always having a cold drink handy. We spend a lot of time driving between new campsites and sightseeing on our road trips as well, where having a good water bottle in the vehicle for each person is imperative. These water bottles also come in 21 or 24 ounce models.

Cooler Cups - "The new Cooler Cup is two great things in one: it’s a can or bottle cooler, and, with one quick switch, it’s a 12 oz beverage cup. As a Cooler Cup, it’s brilliantly versatile with a silicone sleeve that lets you slide in a narrow bottle or a can—all with the same snug fit. Pop off the sleeve and you have a 12 oz cup made to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. The ultimate win-win." - and while I haven't tried this product yet, I'm definitely intrigued!

*** Proceed to the bottom of this gift guide to ENTER TO WIN a 12 ounce Hydro Flask Coffee Mug. 

Hydro Flask Wine bottle and Wine Tumbler for a camping win 

5. New Sun Hats or Knit Toques for Cold Weather Camping (with giveaway)

I recently discovered Sunday Afternoons when I was given an Aurora Beanie to keep my head warm this winter. Let me tell you, I am in love with this hat and if you've seen me in the past month, I was probably wearing it.

Sunday Afternoons has a giant collection of hats for all weather, seasons, activities, and temperatures. Fortunately you'll get a chance to take a good look through their website thanks to a generous giveaway for one winner to pick any one hat of their choice from their website.

Hats of note I suggest you take a look at:

- The Kids Fish and Fire Beanie

- The Kids Hearts and Owls Beanie

- Kids Play Hat (in a variety of different color themes)

- Kids Trucker Hats (in a variety of themes with beautiful animals and nature scenes on each hat)

*** Proceed to the bottom of this gift guide to ENTER TO WIN a coupon code for one free hat from Sunday Afternoons.

I've already placed a second Aurora Beanie from Sunday Afternoons on my Christmas list this year 

6. New Hiking Shoes 

Hiking is one of our favourite things to do when we go camping in the summer, and a good pair of boots will be invaluable on a backpacking trip.

We're big KEEN fans in this family and my son gets a new pair of Targhee Hiking Shoes every year. Myself, I live in my Terradora boots and I like the Explore shoes for mountain biking or walks around the city.

I also live in my KEEN slipper shoes around the campsite when it's cool outside and they're easy to put on for night time trips to the bathroom. 

Finally, another recommendation for happy camping ladies, you NEED a good pair of flip flops for the campsite. Something sturdy, built to last, and strong enough to even bike around camp. 

And my tip of the day: If you aren't 100% sure what kind of shoes or boots your partner or child would like, but you know they need new footwear, start with a "sample pair" in their size and wrap it up. Keep the receipt and they can always exchange the shoes after the holidays. At least they have something to open under the Christmas tree though. 

Kids grow! You can't go wrong with new hiking shoes as a Christmas present

7. Camping-Themed Books and Guidebooks (with giveaways)

I love receiving new guidebooks for Christmas because then I can spend the afternoon reading through each book, highlighting trails I want to hike, and dreaming about the upcoming summer.

For families planning to camp in the Canadian Rockies, I recommend both of the books below, written by local authors from Calgary:

Family Walks and Hikes in the Canadian Rockies - Volume 1: Bragg Creek - Kananaskis - Bow Valley - Banff National Park  - written by Andrew Nugara and published in 2019

This guidebook is filled with colorful photos of local families hiking around Calgary, and my son spent hours reading through it last summer. It's been a great tool for creating interest in hiking with my son and he's added several hikes to our list after reading about them in this book.

Andrew will also be publishing his second edition to this book with a publication date scheduled for June 2020. The next book will carry on with more hikes, areas to explore, and trails not described in the first book.

*** Proceed to the bottom of this guide to ENTER TO WIN an autographed copy of Andrew Nugara's family hiking guidebook, volume 1. A copy will either be hand-delivered to your house in Calgary by Andrew, or mailed to you if you live outside the city.

The Ink Pots in Banff National Park, one of the hikes we read about in Andrew Nugara's book 

Canadian Rocky Mountains Hiking Guide for Families - Hikes for Families, from toddlers to grandparents, near Banff, Canmore, Kananaskis, Bragg Creek, and Calgary written by Annika Mang and scheduled for publishing in June 2020.

Author, Annika Mang is the mother of two adventurous little girls and the creator of the Born to be Adventurous blog. Annika has been working for several years to launch her first guide book to the Rockies, and is working to publish it with a current Kickstarter campaign. As of now, the book is fully funded and will be published next spring.

Each hike featured in the book will have a good map, directions to the trailhead, a difficulty rating, a description of what to expect on the hike, nearby attractions, and insider tips from one outdoor family to another.

Best of all, every hike in this book has been researched and walked by Annika and her young children, so you can trust what you're reading.

*** Proceed to the bottom of this guide to ENTER TO WIN an autographed copy of Annika Mang's new hiking guidebook when it is published next June. A copy will be mailed to your house.

Other recommended books for Happy Campers 

 - A camping logbook and travel diary 

- Goodnight, Campsite - A children's picture book on camping

And by searching for this book on Amazon you'll receive suggestions for many other great camping-themed picture books to start a fabulous collection for your family.

- A Hiking Journal for Kids (we have this one and it's a beautiful way to record the hikes your child completes.)

This hiking journal was a great gift for a happy camper and outdoor child

8. Lightweight Gear for Backpacking or Tent Camping 

Christmas is a great time to update or upgrade backpacking gear. There's always something out there that's lighter, better, more comfortable, or easier to use.

Check out the All Out Kids Gear website for ideas

And a few of my personal suggestions:
  • Headlamps

  • LED Lights and lanterns

  • Backcountry chargers (we just found an affordable one at Costco that looks great.)

  • Inflatable pillows

  • Backpacking chairs

  • A new stove or cook set

  • Satellite communicators and locators 

  • A Gravity water filter (We LOVE ours and never sit beside a stream filtering water anymore.)

  • Down blankets (We always use our down blankets for hostels and backcountry cabins)

  • MEC hut booties 

  • An Icebreaker Camping Skirt - Change out of your hiking clothes when you get to camp and relax in this comfortable lightweight skirt that I fell in love with while camping this past summer. (It's also great for road trips, RV camping, and overnight paddle trips.)
Upgrade this Christmas with great gear for tenting and backpacking 

9. Camp Toys for both Kids and Parents

Admit it, camping is more fun when you bring the toys. Be it a great hammock that you spend hours chilling in with a good book or something as simple as a fishing rod.

Below are a few suggestions for gifts you can wrap and put under the tree:

Water Toys:

- Inflatable floaties and water toys (order the same Punk Duck that we have, pictured below)

- Inflatable stand up paddleboards (check out the affordable SUPs from Airhead Watersports.)

- Kids sit on top kayaks 

- Fishing rods and a starter tackle kit (We've loved this Ugli Stik rod for kids.)

Hours of entertainment at camp with inflatable SUPs and floaties 

Toys for the Campsite:

- A slackline from Slackline Industries 

- A great hammock (and consider getting a freestanding frame for sites without good trees)

- New games to play at camp (Exploding Kittens is my son's new fav. game and we also love Mexican Domino Train)

- Inline skates for campsites that have paved loops - and you want the adjustable rollerblade brand for awesome quality. It's what your child would have used if Alien Inline visited their school. (You'll want to buy a set of pads to go with them too!)

- Walkie talkies for the kids to use around camp

These skates were my son's fav. camping toy this past summer!

10. More Awesome Gear to take Car Camping to the next level! 

Some of these items could be hard to find this time of year, but you could always wrap a photo of what you intend to buy your partner once Costco brings their camping gear out for the new season. A Costco gift card would also work in this situation with a voucher for one "big round comfy Costco chair."

Below are just a sampling of suggestions other Happy Campers have said they'd like for Christmas this year:

Wrap up some awesome gifts to take car camping and RV life to the next level!

The Giveaways

Terms and Conditions for all Giveaways:

All contests finish on Tuesday, November 19th at midnight. A winner will be chosen randomly for each draw on the morning of the 20th.

Each winner has until noon on November 22nd to respond to the email I will send out. If you do not respond, a new winner will be chosen.

All times and deadlines follow Mountain Standard Time.

All contests are open to Canadian Residents 18 years of age or older.

The Leatherman winner will receive a product of their choice of color pending availability of stock

The "Canadian Rocky Mountains Hiking Guide for Families" by Annika Mang will  be shipped when the book is published in June, 2020.

The Hydro Flask winner is not guaranteed to receive a coffee mug of their preferred color. Color availability will depend on stock at the time of shipping.

Shipping is included for all items.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out these other Family Holiday Gift Guides and Giveaways 

Gifts for Skiers and Skiing Families - The Brave Ski Mom

2019 Outdoor Holiday Gift Guide - Outdoor Families Magazine

25+ Gifts for Active Adventurous Kids: Awesome Non-Toy Gifts - Bring the Kids

Gift Guides for Outdoor Families - Tales of a Mountain Mama

Big Thanks to all sponsors of this year's holiday gift guide!

- All Out Kids Gear

- Hydro Flask

- Sunday Afternoons

- Leatherman Canada

- Annika Mang, Calgary Author

- Andrew Nugara, Calgary Author

- HT Designs

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Best Ice Hikes in Kananaskis and Banff

Hike through a canyon on a solid ice creek bed to view large towering frozen waterfalls. Crawl behind curtains of ice, climb around on the ice, or even bring your skates when conditions are right. These are the top four ice walks near Calgary and they are all family-friendly.

Discover magical Troll Falls this winter in Kananaskis 

Jura Creek, Kananaskis

While there are other good hikes in Kananaskis that can be done in winter, Jura Creek is something special because it's a hike that can not really be done in summer.  The canyon through Jura Creek can only be tackled in winter when the water is well frozen under a layer of ice and snow.

The Jura Creek Canyon is also one of the tightest canyons in the area. There are sections where you can place one hand on each side of the canyon wall as you walk.  It's absolutely awesome and perfect for kids chasing each other around the tight twists and turns.

Magical ice walk through the Jura Creek Canyon 

Add ice slides and a frozen creek bed if the ground isn't covered with snow, and you have a magical adventure for kids. Best of all, this is a short half-day outing and less than an hour away from the west side of Calgary.

Hiking through the narrow Jura Creek canyon in Kananaskis

Read: Jura Creek - The Best Winter Hike in Kananaskis

Read: Ice, Ice, Baby - Winter Canyon Hiking 

Read: The Wildest Winter Family Hike in Kananaskis 

Family-friendly hiking in the Jura Creek canyon 

Troll Falls and beyond to the Upper Falls, Kananaskis

Troll Falls at Kananaskis Village just might be the best winter hike near Calgary for families. It's one of the easiest winter hiking options for our area, and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser for all ages. We've done this outing dozens of times, and have never had a bad day.

Frozen Troll Falls, Kananaskis Village

Troll Falls is blessedly short with less than a 4 km round trip distance if you start from the Stoney Trailhead near Kananaskis Village.

Read: Five Reasons Families LOVE Visiting Troll Falls in the Winter 

Playing behind curtains of ice at Troll Falls

Want to go further with older kids and have a solid spirit of adventure? Try going beyond Troll Falls to the Upper Falls. Along the way you'll pass several different ice falls and you can even walk behind frozen Marmot Falls.

Marmot Falls which you can hike behind

Know that this is not a hike to the top of Troll Falls, which is something I don't recommend attempting. You'll be visiting different waterfalls and will go nowhere near the top of Troll Falls. If you follow my directions in the story below, there is very little exposure.

Read: Chasing Frozen Waterfalls in Kananaskis! Troll Falls and beyond to the Upper Falls 

Upper Falls above Troll Falls, Kananaskis 

Grotto Canyon, Kananaskis 

Families will love hiking on the solid ice creek bed here with ice slides everywhere and a natural skating rink if you time your visit right.

It's approximately a 2 km hike to reach the set of twin waterfalls at the end of the "fun part" of the Grotto Canyon hike. After this point, the canyon opens up and it's more just flat walking up a creek bed.

One of the frozen waterfalls on the Grotto Canyon hike

At the waterfalls you can watch ice climbers putting on a show and kids will have fun on the giant ice slide. Note that if you hike up the ice slide (with spikes,) you'll find a third hidden waterfall (usually with more climbers on it.)

Playing on natural ice slides in Grotto Creek

Read: Grotto Canyon Ice Walk - 5 Reasons We LOVE this Hike

I timed my visit perfectly once to skate a part of the canyon

Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park 

There must be photos of Banff's Johnston Canyon hiking trail on billboards across the world advertising the Canadian Rockies.  Come summer, you'd be hard pressed to get a photo on this popular trail without at least two dozen tourists in the shot, and you could be parking a mile down  the road in order to get near the place.

Hike Johnston Canyon in winter though and you'll find solitude in abundance, you'll get your quiet moments on the trail, and you might even have the whole place to yourself if you visit on a cold day.

Christmas hiking at Johnston Canyon in Banff

The highlight of this hike is the Lower and the Upper Falls which can both be reached in a return hike of 5.4 km. In the past we've also enjoyed descending down into the canyon near the upper falls where there's a fun cave and a beautiful frozen waterfall (shown in the photo above)

There is currently a restriction against leaving the official trail to drop down into the canyon but the latest bulletin says it should end mid-November. Check for important closures and restrictions here before you visit. 

Please read the stories below for more information but obey all signs that you see on the trail. I've mentioned dropping down into the canyon off the official trail in both stories below - something that might not be allowed depending on when you visit.

You used to be able to drop down into the canyon right at the Upper Falls as well for close-up photos, but this might be restricted as well now that new fencing has been placed around the viewpoint.

Frozen waterfall from inside the cave off the official trail

Read: The Most Popular Hike in Banff without the Crowds 

Read: Ice Caves and Frozen Waterfalls in Banff National Park 

Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon 

Recommended Gear and Safety Tips for Ice Hiking 

Please know that hiking in icy canyons can be very dangerous and you'll want to be sufficiently prepared should you decide to take your family on an ice hike.


Troll Falls, Kananaskis 

  • You'll want a good pair of ice cleats or micro spikes for each member of your family. We use Kahtoola Microspikes which can be purchased at most outdoor stores. We've also been lucky to find XS microspikes for children at the Switching Gear store in Canmore.

  • Spikes work much better than snowshoes, but in a pinch, you could use snowshoes if hiking trails like Jura Creek.

  • We've often used helmets for the children when hiking on ice. We compare it to ice skating and like to be extra cautious.

  • Exercise caution when hiking underneath ice, inside ice caves, or when  trying to climb on ice. Ice breaks and you don't want to be on or underneath a waterfall if a big chunk falls off.

  • Be very careful with children who like "sliding" on ice. I've seen kids try to slide down frozen waterfalls, only to pick up speed and end up nearly landing on their heads. 

Thursday, October 03, 2019

The Newest Family Adventure Base Camp in the Town of Jasper

Just in time for ski season, we've found you the perfect family adventure base camp in the Northern Canadian Rockies. Hostelling International has opened a brand new property and the HI Jasper Hostel is located a short 5 minute walk from the heart of downtown Jasper.

The HI Jasper Hostel, Hostelling International's newest property in the Canadian Rockies

Top 5 reasons you'll want to stay at the brand new HI Jasper Hostel 

  1. Private rooms and small shared rooms for 4 people!

    This is the ideal hostel for families not wanting to share large crowded dorm rooms with strangers. Either book a private room (with your own ensuite bathroom) or book all four spots in one of the shared 4-bed rooms (with a shared bathroom.)

  2. Close proximity to downtown Jasper!

    As much as I love the other hostels around Jasper, you'll have to drive to get anywhere if you stay at any of the wilderness properties in Jasper National Park. This is the first hostel in the park with an urban vibe - and where you can walk to restaurants and coffee shops without ever having to hop in your car.

  3. The hostel is practically on top of the town bike trails!

    My family loves biking and we always do a loop around the town on the Jasper easy trail network - something that was incredibly easy from the HI Jasper Hostel. We could have spent the whole day on our bikes without ever having to drive to a trailhead.

  4. Cook your own meals and save money.
    I love hotels and resorts, but you end up spending a fortune on meals when you have to eat out three times a day. The hostel has a gigantic kitchen and dining area making it easy to cook and eat right on site. - and if you want a good cup of coffee, there's a small cafe on site so we skipped making coffee in the morning.

  5. Lots of common areas to "hang out" in

    I can't count the number of times I've put my son to bed at night and then had to sit in the hallway outside my hotel room reading (because who wants to go to bed at 8:00 when traveling?)

    Staying at the HI Jasper hostel is ideal for families who have to put kids to bed early. My husband would stick around until our son was safely asleep, and then he'd come downstairs to find me in one of the common rooms. Down there we could play pool, play a board game, read, or just enjoy a glass of wine together. (Bring baby monitors if you have little ones)
Bike out the hostel door onto fabulous trails around Jasper 

Not your typical "hostelling experience" at the HI Jasper Hostel

I'm not sure what a "typical" hostelling experience would be, but I'm sure this new hostel is far too posh to be considered "normal."

We've stayed in a lot of rustic wilderness hostels where we had to snowshoe in, melt snow for water, and make use of outdoor toilets. Other wilderness hostels we've stayed at have had electricity and indoor plumbing, but still had a definite "rustic" feel to them.

This was the first hostel we've stayed at where I actually felt like I was walking into a modern urban hotel. From the professional looking lobby to the modern furniture and art work, down to the on site coffee shop, travelers definitely won't feel like they're roughing it when they stay here.

A look at one of the common areas at the HI Jasper Hostel

A look inside the HI Jasper Hostel 

As much as I love the HI Lake Louise Hostel, the layout always drives me crazy with the rooms located up at least a flight or two of stairs (with no elevator,) the kitchen located in the basement, and the common area located in a loft area above the lobby. You can easily get your 10 000 steps in staying at this property without even going out for a hike.

The HI Jasper Hostel however has a fabulous layout!! The lobby, the kitchen and dining room, the common areas, and the cafe are all on the main floor! The bedrooms are located on the second and third floors but there is an elevator to get you (and your giant hockey bag, backpacks, suitcases) up to the rooms. 

Shared kitchen at the HI Jasper Hostel 

It was so simple checking in and then immediately being able to carry our cooler over to the kitchen without having to go downstairs. And I'll happily use the stairs in a hotel, but not when I've packed for a ski weekend and have "Big Bertha," our giant hockey bag, to carry up two flights of stairs! 

Other features at the hostel include:

  • Secure storage for bikes or skis

  • A sauna on the third floor

  •  A TV/media room

  • Free parking on site

  • Free WiFi

  • A BBQ outside the kitchen and dining area

  • Lockers in all dorm rooms to secure your valuables

  • Laundry facilities

  • A meeting room

  • Key card access to the kitchen/dining area and to each bedroom for security and safety

Part of the dining room at the HI Jasper Hostel

Room Options at the HI Jasper Hostel

Guests have four options for accommodations at the hostel. Each option includes bed linens and towels so leave the sleeping bags at home.

4-Bed Shared Dorm rooms - These rooms have two bunks with options for women, men, or mixed gender. Book an entire room if you have a family. Bathrooms are shared with another dorm room. 

Premium Private Room ensuites - These rooms for 2 have a queen bed, ensuite bathroom, and a flat-screen TV.

Private Quad ensuites - These rooms are similar to the 4-bed shared rooms except you'll have your own bathroom inside your room.

Family Ensuite rooms - These rooms are exactly the same as the private quad ensuite rooms except that one of the bottom bunks is a double so you can fit 5 people in these rooms. (This is the kind of room we had.)

Cozy bunk beds in the Family Ensuite Rooms

Finding the HI Jasper Hostel 

Note, this is NOT the "Jasper downtown hostel" if you are looking up "Jasper Hostel" on Google Maps. This is the HI Jasper Hostel and it's located on Sleepy Hollow Road. (You'll want to be very clear on the location with any pizza deliveries as well because the hostel is very new and if you don't specify that you're on Sleepy Hollow Road, you won't see your pizza anytime soon.)

And make sure the person driving knows where they're going! My husband was convinced we were going downtown and thought I was crazy when I started directing him to the HI hostel just south of main street (his Google research had led him to a completely different hostel.)

The brand new HI Jasper Hostel on Sleepy Hollow Road 

Biking the Town Loop from the HI Jasper Hostel 

Below is a description of the Town Loop, a collection of beginner-friendly mountain bike trails that you can do from the hostel door. (with links from Trail Forks) 

This loop takes you to Old Fort Point for a gorgeous hike, over to the Jasper Park Lodge Resort, over to Lake Annette (Jasper's beach,) and then through the downtown area where you'll find lots of restaurants, shopping, and coffee shops.

And yes, you can hike it as well. It's a multi-use trail.

Biking across the bridge to Old Fort Point

- Sleepy Hollow Trail (we didn't bike this, but it gives you a reference for where you are on the Trail Forks map. The trail is across a ravine from the hostel.) 

- Wapiti Trail (heading south) - we were on this trail for all of 2 minutes.

- Red Squirrel  (820 meters in distance to Old Fort Point) - We rode this fun trail to the Old Fort Point Road, crossed the bridge, and then we hiked up to the viewpoint on the Old Fort Point Trail. If you want to do this hike, just make your way up the staircase at the parking lot after locking up your bikes. Head straight up to the viewpoint and return the same way. It's a short 40 minute distraction from your bike ride. 

Old Fort Point viewpoint 

- Trail 7 from Old Fort Point to Jasper Park Lodge (The entire trail is 2.5 km but we exit before that on 7C to get us around the golf course at the Jasper Park Lodge.) - And a big highlight of this trail is the unofficial "Jasper bike park" where you'll find some small jumps and a rough pump track.

- 7C cut off and Old Lodge Road - The Old Lodge Road is 1.5 km long and is a paved road closed to vehicles. It's an easy way to get through the resort property and to stay away from horse trails.

Playing around at the "Jasper bike park" at the junction of Trail 7 and Trail 7C

- The Woodpecker Trail (Make your way over here on a service road.) - This trail is 2 km in distance and has some fun downhill sections. It takes you to Lake Annette

- Big Horn Alley (Trail 13 from Lake Annette back into town) - This trail is 4 km long and it's the first trail that might have you feeling like you're actually mountain  biking with a few climbs and some fun downhill sections. Take this trail to get you back to town.

Biking across a meadow on Big Horn Alley

- Trail 11 (The Town Trail) - This 4 km long paved trail follows the train tracks along the main street and is a nice flat ride through town. We always stop for coffee and baked goods at the Bear's Paw Bakery from this trail. 

- Wapiti Trail back to the hostel - Cross the train tracks and you're back at the hostel

In total, you've ridden approximately 13-14 km on mostly double track trails or easy wide singletrack with some pavement thrown in for a good mixture. 

Depending on the season you can stop at Lake Annette for a swim as well.

Download a printable mountain biking guide here. 

Biking the Town Trail through Jasper 

Looking for more ideas for family-fun while staying at the HI Jasper Hostel? 

Check out these resources below, all stories I've written after previous trips:

Stay at the HI Jasper Hostel and Ski Marmot Basin this winter 

We'll definitely be back to this hostel next time we travel north to Jasper. It's the perfect base camp for summer biking, winter skiing, or any adventure getaway in the Northern Rockies. 

Disclaimer: Our stay was provided for us in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions and words are my own.