Monday, November 24, 2014

5 More Cool Things to do this Winter (for a total of 15 awesome ways to embrace the cold!)

A week ago I published the first 10 cool things I recommend you try this winter as a family.  It can be read here at:  My Personal Top 10 List of Cool Things to do this Winter.  As I was writing the story, I knew I was going to have to write a second (third, fourth...) story because there are a LOT of cool things to do in winter!  And if you live in Calgary, there are so many neat things you can do in the Rocky Mountains over the cold months.  So here are the next five cool things to do in winter.  Total now:  15 Super Awesome Things to do in Winter.

Embrace Winter and Learn to Love it!

Backcountry Sledding
1.  Go backcountry sled hiking.  Earlier this month we discovered a new way to enjoy the snow while out for a hike.  Bring a sled, hike up a trail to a backcountry lake or meadow, and slide back down the trail to the car.  I recommend finding a fairly wide trail and guiding the sled if there are young children on board.  Helmets would also be recommended if the trail is steep and lined with trees.

To safely "guide" a sled down a steep or narrow trail with children in it, let the sled go first and follow the sled down, while bringing the rope in tight. And you can use the rope to help steer the sled (photo below.)

If  you are lucky, you will even find a good sledding hill at your destination where you can play for an your before hiking back down.

Guiding a sled down a steep hill safely

For more on backcountry sledding and hiking, read my recent story:  November Hiking and Backcountry Sledding at Highwood Pass, Kananaskis.

2.  Try Winter Ski Biking.  Strider makes a ski attachment for their balance bikes and it's a super fun way to do some backcountry skiing this winter as a family with even the youngest child able to participate in the fun.  We attach our son's ski bike to a backpack, hike it up the trail, and then let him ski back down to the car on his bike.  He always beats us to the vehicle and we choose wide trails with little risk of hitting a tree.

Strider Ski biking in the backcountry

Watch this fun video from last weekend of my son descending from Elbow Lake in Kananaskis.  And here's another cool video from last winter descending the Elk Pass Ski Trail in Kananaskis on the ski bike. 

Towing the bike (and child) into a backcountry cabin last winter

Children can be towed on the bike as well (see the photo above) which makes for an innovative way of getting them into backcountry huts or cabins.

Who needs to hike when you have a ski bike and a rope?!

To win a pair of skis for your child's Strider bike, visit my Christmas Gift Guide where Run Bikes YYC is giving away a par of skis. 

3.  Make a snow fort, tunnel, or quinzee.  Many of our favourite times outside in winter have been spent playing in snow forts, crawling through snow tunnels or climbing around on various snow structures we've found on our travels.  We even built a snow fortress with tunnel in our backyard one winter and it was a fun way to spend time outside without going far.

Crawling out of a snow tunnel
Snow quinzee we found at a campground last winter
Kids will spend hours playing in and on a snow fort with a tunnel

4.  Roast Marshmallows in the Snow.  We love having winter marshmallow roasts when we stay at wilderness hostels.  And you don't have to travel far either.  Many of the parks in Calgary have fire pits and stoves for winter picnics and wiener roasts.

Roasting Marshmallows at the Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel

In Calgary you can plan a skating party and roast marshmallows at the same time at Carburn Park or Bowness Park.  We also love having outdoor picnics in Edworthy Park where there are stoves and fire pits with several playgrounds.

Roasting marshmallows at Edworthy Park

5.  Climb a Mountain. This is something on my list for us to do as a family this winter.  Many of the first summits we did this summer would be very doable with snowshoes or ice cleats in the winter months.  And in winter, you can bring a sled or ski bike for some of the "not so steep" downhill sections. 

Tunnel Mountain in Banff, Great hiking in all seasons

On the list to do is either Tunnel Mountain or Stoney Squaw Mountain, both in Banff. Noah has already climbed Tunnel Mountain so I know this little mountain is doable, and I last hiked up the Stoney Squaw trail when I was very pregnant (photo evidence below.)

Hiking up Stoney Squaw Mountain while very pregnant

For information on Banff hiking trails, visit the Parks Canada website or stop in at a visitor centre for winter hiking suggestions.

Come back next Monday for MORE suggestions as I bring us up to 20 fun ways to get outside this winter.

Ski Bike, Sled, Snowshoes and Snow = Fun Times

Haven't read the first 10 Cool things to do yet?  Read it now at My Personal Top Ten List of Cool Things to do this Winter.  

Continue on to read the next 10 Cool things to do this winter here:  10 More Cool things to do this Winter (for a total of 25 awesome ways to embrace the cold.)


  1. It's been about 20 years since I have done it but I absolutely love having fires out in the snow.