|Balance Biking the Beaver Flats Trail, Elbow Valley|
Here are the best family road rides for spring - FREE of all traffic:
Bow Valley Provincial Park Campground
The Bow Valley Campground doesn't open until May 1st so if you go now, you can bike the whole campground and roads through the provincial park with no traffic. Drive out to Bow Valley Provincial Park off of Highway 1 and park at the Middle Lake Day Use Area. The road is closed here. From this day use area, you can bike to the White Fish Day Use Area for a short hike on a beautiful little Many Springs Trail. It's a 1.3km loop and should technically be walked (not biked.) Exceptions would likely be made for kids on balance bikes and parents pushing Chariots (I hope.)
|Balance Biking the Roads through Bow Valley Provincial Park|
This is our favourite bike ride each spring and the scenery is spectacular in the park. There's a playground in the Elk Flats Group campground en route to the Many Springs Trail. We like to stop here for lunch/snacks and some play time. The Middle Lake area also has a nice walking trail around it and is pleasant to explore.
|Elk Flats Playground|
|Middle Lake Day Use Area|
The Elbow Valley and Highway 66
Highway riding with kids was never so easy! Drive out to Bragg Creek to highway 66. Park above the Elbow Falls Day Use Area on the side of the highway at the winter gate which doesn't open until May 15th. Until then, the highway and surrounding campgrounds are wide open for cyclists - and CLOSED to all cars. Wahoo!
|Biking Hwy 66 in the Elbow Valley|
We like to bike the highway to the Beaver Flats Campground. From here we bike around the campground and take a hike on the Beaver Flats hiking trail. It's a cute little trail, balance bike and Chariot friendly, and the kids will have a blast exploring the beaver ponds. Bring sand toys, pails, and shovels to play at the ponds with if you have small kids. You can either bike back on the highway or hike back along the Beaver Flats trail. The trail takes you back to within 500m of your car. (note, the trail is technically a pedestrian trail, so I wouldn't go ripping down it on mountain bikes.)
|Balance Biking the Beaver Flats Trail|
|Playing in the Beaver Ponds on the Beaver Flats Trail|
Paddy's Flat Campground
Here's another Elbow Valley campground that's fun to bike around before it opens on May 15th. Park at the closed Paddy's Flat Campground gate along the side of Hwy 66. From there, bike down into the campground and head for the playground or the river. There's a fun interpretive trail that follows the river and is fun for kids to bike. Again, it is a hiking trail so take it easy on the adult bikes! Or walk.
Note as well that there may still be some flood damage to this trail. It might not be feasible to bike the entire trail. Regardless, it's a fun little hike and you can still bike the campground roads to access the interpretive trail.
|Balance Biking the Paddy's Flat Interpretive Trail|
|Playing beside the river on the Paddy's Flat Trail|
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
The Elkwood Campground doesn't open until May 14th and can be fun to bike around without threat of traffic hitting beginner bikers. From this campground, you can access the Marl Lake trailhead which is a 1.5km loop and super easy. Kids could loop it on balance bikes and it's chariot friendly. Again for adults on bikes, it is technically a hiking trail so maybe lock up the bikes before heading out on it.
|Marl Lake Trail|
|Biking campground roads in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park|
The Lodgepole, Wheeler and Lakeside Trails form 12 km of paved trails that connect most campgrounds in the park. They are lovely to ride and if you bike from the Boulton Creek to Canyon Campgrounds, you will be going almost all downhill! (arrange for a shuttle at the bottom.)
|Biking the paved Lodgepole Trail in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park|
This is not easy campground cruising, but an outing for families with older children and teens that can handle some steep hills and pedal with sustained energy. Highway 40 is closed past the entrance to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park until June 15th each year. This gives cyclists a rare opportunity to bike to Highwood Pass and back in a heart pounding 30km return trip ride. While this is going to be way too much for most families, you don’t have to go the whole way to the Pass. Ride as far as you have energy for, have lunch, and enjoy the fact that you got to share an empty highway with nobody but other cyclists for a day.
|Highwood Pass (accessible by a 30km return bike ride until June 15th)|
Strong cycling families with younger children could also do this ride with a Chariot or bike trailer for a nice spring outing. It’s great training for bigger adventures you might have planned in the summer.
Park at the closed gate along the side of Hwy 40 for this trip and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Herds of big horned sheep are frequently sited here. Note, it is advised to carry bear spray with you as Highwood Pass is a popular area for grizzly bears in summer.
|Highwood Pass gets a LOT of snow (hence the late road opening date)|
For more information on cycling to Highwood Pass visit this link to read a good description of the journey.
More Great Rides
The trails along the river in Canmore are fabulous by May and June and offer families some easy pathways to ride. For more information, read this story I wrote: The Best Family Bike Trails in Canmore
|Biking the Canmore River Pathways|
Also check out my other story on the Best Family Bike Trails in Kananaskis for plenty of great mountain biking options. Troll Falls is a family favourite along with the trail to Watridge Lake. These trails should all be in condition by early to mid June.
|Biking to Troll Falls, Kananaskis|
Did I miss any? What's your fav. trail near Calgary??