Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Holiday Gift Guide for Active Kids (with giveaways)

I'm back with another one of my annual holiday gift guides, and this year I've decided to keep the theme more general, focusing on fun gifts to keep our kids active all year long, outside (and even inside on those cold winter days.)

Get the kids outside year round to be active, happy, and healthy

I've organized gift ideas below by category/sport, and yes, there are some giveaways. Read to the bottom to enter the contests.

All links go to the product or company website. A few links go to the Amazon 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 (so shop from them and I might be able to buy a fancy Starbucks drink or two this Christmas.)

Finally, Altitude Sports has been a huge supporter of this blog so you'll find links to their website as well where you can order quality outdoor gear and clothing online across Canada.

Holiday Gift Guide for Active Kids

Kids on Bikes - Gift ideas for kids who love mountain biking and cycling

- with giveaway from B-Line Indoor Bike Park 

The BIG Gift: A New Bike

Prevelo Bikes ships their bikes for free (including to Canada,) and they make amazing bikes (engineered specifically for youth!)

You can read all about my son's Prevelo Zulu Four here: What to Look for in your Child's Next Bike (and what to skip!)  - note I have partnered with Prevelo Bikes this year as an Ambassador.

And you can check out the complete line of Prevelo bikes here.

You can also order them online from All out Kids Gear in Alberta (where you'll also get free shipping.)

My son was a pretty happy biker when he got his new Prevelo bike this past spring

One cool thing about Prevelo is that you get to choose between two different lines of bikes (the more affordable Alpha series, and the more technical Zulu series.) Have children that are not getting big air in the bike park and like casual pathway riding or easy mountain biking? Purchase one of the Alpha bikes and know that you're getting a quality bike without some of the fancier components your child might not need.

The Zulu three and four bikes (20-24 inch) are currently out of stock but all other bikes are ready for shipping and should be at your house in plenty of time for Christmas if you order sooner than later.

And it's your choice if you want to put the bike together for the big "Christmas morning reveal" or if you want to wrap the box (which would make for one very large present to be opened.)

Invest in quality mountain bikes for active kids who love to ride

Other Gifts for Kids Who Love Biking

And a few tips for getting the kids out on bikes year round:

First, consider renting fat bikes for a day (or a weekend) from Nomad Mobile Gear Rentals in Calgary (they have one youth 24" fat bike for rent.) 

Biking can be a fun activity year round 

Or, visit B-Line, Calgary's indoor bike park where you can bike for the entire day for $30. (Much cheaper than a ski lift ticket.)

And ENTER TO WIN a family day pass (for up to three children living in the same household) for B-Line Indoor Bike Park.

*Giveaways at the bottom of this gift guide

Conquering the beginner jump line at B-Line Indoor Bike Park

Kids on the Trails - Gift ideas to keep kids hiking year round 

- with giveaway from All Out Kids Gear 

The BIG Gift: A New Backpack 

All out Kids Gear has a great assortment of backpacks from kids' starter packs up to hydration packs and overnight packs for backpacking.

My son uses a small hydration pack for our day hikes but has a Deuter Fox 30 for overnight trips. We love this backpack and are pleased with the amount our son can carry with it.

And, ENTER TO WIN a backpack of your choice (maximum $100 value.)

See the full collection of backpacks at All out Kids Gear here

*Giveaways at the bottom of this gift guide

Backpacks make excellent Christmas gifts for active kids

Other Gifts for Kids who Like Hiking, Snowshoeing, and Backpacking

Get the kids some snowshoes and enjoy year round hiking!

Winter Kids - Gift ideas to keep kids happy and warm all winter long

- With giveaway from Altitude Sports 

I have lots of suggestions here for kids who want to play outside all winter long while staying warm

And, ENTER TO WIN a youth Icebreaker base layer set of your choice and a set of youth Icebreaker ski socks from Altitude Sports.

Check out the selection of youth Icebreaker products from Altitude Sports here.

*Giveaways at the bottom of this gift guide

Dress the kids warm and get out to play! 

Crag Kids - Gift ideas for kids who love rock climbing (inside or out)

- with giveaway from the Calgary Climbing Centre

Here are a few of my top suggestions here:

Climbing shoes make great Christmas gifts

And, ENTER TO WIN three climb park passes from the Calgary Climbing Centre for either the Hanger Location or the Rocky Mountain Location. (and there will two separate giveaways, one for each location)

Read more about the Calgary Climbing Centre's Climb Parks here. (no climbing experience is required to use these parks and they are fabulous for children.)

*Giveaways at the bottom of this gift guide

Climbing helmets are great for scrambling and hiking too!

Ski Kids - Gift ideas for kids who enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing

- with giveaway from Trail Blazers Outdoor Store in Cochrane 

The BIG Gift: New Skis and Boots

This is the obvious choice, right? Seriously though, a pair of skis makes for a great Christmas gift if your family wants to get into cross-country skiing. Buy the skis, boots, and poles, and then you're set with free skiing the rest of the winter. 

Buy adjustable poles to cut down on one cost (one pair will last for years and can be used for both cross-country and downhill skiing along with hiking as well.)

And if you're buying downhill skis, consider Roces adjustable ski boots that expand to fit your child for several years.

And need to save a few pennies? Check out the local consignment stores. Your child likely won't care if their skis or boots aren't brand new. I bought my son's cross-country boots second hand from Trail Blazers in Cochrane this year.

And ENTER TO WIN a $50 Gift Card from Trail Blazers.

*Giveaways at the bottom of this gift guide

Get the kids on the slopes with new ski gear for Christmas 

Other Gifts for Kids who Love Skiing

Ski goggles make an excellent Christmas gift

Little Campers - Gift ideas for kids who love camping

I have lots of suggestions for you here:

  • A new headlamp (we're always losing ours!)

  • A new sleeping bag (kids grow, right?)

  • A slackline for car camping trips next summer

  • A hammock for next season's camping trips (kids LOVE playing around in hammocks!)

  • Hut booties! (the best thing for winter hut trips) - my son has a pair of XS hut booties

  • A fun camping themed water bottle from MEC

  • A badminton set for the campsite next year (Go into any Walmart and they're marked down to ridiculously low prices right now.) - Alternately, any outdoor game set would be fun for camping and you should get good deals now on end of season clearance

  • A fishing rod! (Something my son just discovered he enjoyed this summer while backpacking) - My son has the Junior Ugly Stik rod and we've been satisfied with it. 

A fishing rod is a great gift idea for active kids 

Active Kids - General gift ideas

Below are some random ideas I had for year round active play:

  • A new sled! (sleds get cracked, broken, etc. Then there's just the "it's a new sled!!!" factor

    And, check out this cool GoFloats Winter Snow Unicorn! Also comes in penguin, ice dragon, flamingo, or polar bear design

  • A Strider Ski Attachment for balance bikes (has to be Strider brand) - my son loved his!

  • Snow Skates, Scooters, and Boards for the sledding hill 

    We've had fun with a Stiga Kick Scooter with ski attachment as well. 

    And if your child needs more balance, check out these Tri Scooters with skis.

    Alternately, if your child would rather sit than stand while sliding down a hill, check out these new Stiga Snow Riders.

    Finally, you can buy your child a regular scooter as a Christmas present as well. Our city pathways are oven shoveled year round meaning scooters can be used throughout the winter on warm days.

  • Snow  toys (including snowball slingshots!) - See a giant assortment of fun toys here from Airhead Sports.

  • A step counter to encourage walking and daily active living. My son has the Garmin Vivofit Jr. Activity Tracker. So far our only complaints are that the battery needs replacing frequently and we've gone through several straps. Otherwise, we've enjoyed it a lot.

    Another idea for an activity tracker, that can be charged without replacing batteries, is the Fitbit Ace which we're consider for our son's next tracker. And I imagine you can find them at any electronics store.

  • Active toys for indoor or outdoor play. I personally love the ninja toys (rope ladders, zip lines, and slacklines) from the Slackers company.

  • New ice skates for the winter, or inline skates for the summer (and add a hockey stick if buying ice skates)

  • A One World Futbol, an unpoppable soccer ball that never needs a pump and never goes flat. Perfect for travel, vacations, camping, or just the backyard. And, when you buy one of these balls, the company donates a portion of the price to organizations helping to bring play to youth in disadvantaged communities.

  • Fitivities, the board game that moves you - "Each individual or team competes against each other by completing the number of repetitions of a given exercise, which are determined by the spin of the arrow."

    "Fitivities is part board game, part workout, and all fun."

  • And check out these ideas for active toys from the Active for Life Gift Guide. 

Activity trackers make great holiday gifts for active kids

The Gift of Experience and Fun - Gift cards, ski discount cards, and more!

Want something that's less about collecting "stuff" and more about family bonding and fun adventure?

Gift cards for local indoor playgrounds, indoor bike parks and climbing gyms

Below are some of my top picks for the Calgary area:

B-Line Indoor Bike Park - Calgary's Biking Playground! Enjoy bike park and BMX style riding year round. There are levels of progression for all riders and you can rent everything you'll need (including bikes.)

Read more: B-Line Indoor Bike Park Review

Give the kids a gift card for B-Line Indoor Bike Park in Calgary

Calgary Climbing Centre - Take the kids to one of the Calgary Climbing Centre's Climb Parks for an hour of fun on creatively-themed climbing walls. There are two locations in the city and no experience is necessary thanks to the auto belay system that's used on every wall in these parks. Learn to climb and have fun doing it!

Read more: Rocky Mountain Climb Park Review

Read more: Hanger Climb Park Review

Give the kids a gift card to use at a Calgary Climbing Centre climb park

Inja Nation - Ninja + Trampoline + Climbing! All in one location in NE Calgary. Spend a couple of hours here as a family and enjoy their ninja obstacle courses, trampoline park, and climbing features. It's a great way to burn off some energy on a cold winter day. (My son begs me to go here at least once every couple of weeks.)

Read more: Inja Nation Review

There's never a bad day at Inja Nation in Calgary 

Ski Discount Cards, Tube Park Passes, or lift tickets for your local ski hill 

Below are a few suggestions here:

  • Put a ski discount card in your child or teenager's stocking.

    Read: How to Become a Ski Family (without breaking the bank) for a comparison of all discount cards for hills near Calgary

  • Tube park passes make another great stocking stuffer. And the Acura Tube Park at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park is a lot of fun!! (It's one of the fastest tube parks in the area.)

  • Pick up some lift tickets and surprise the kids with a ski day at one of their favourite hills. Most hills have incentives for multi-day skiing or provide discounted pricing if you purchase lift passes online. Again, read my story on how to become a ski family above (where I've talked about how to buy affordable lift tickets.)

Tube park passes make a great stocking stuffer gift


Terms and conditions for all giveaways:

All giveaways finish on November 26th at 12am. A winner will be chosen randomly for each draw on the 26th. 

Each winner has until November 28th to respond to the email I will send out. If you do not respond, a new winner will be chosen.

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

Please note that you will need to be in Calgary this winter in order to use the gift cards for B-Line Indoor Bike Park or the Calgary Climbing Centre.

You will also need to visit Trail Blazers in Cochrane in person in order to use your $50 gift card. Shopping for All Out Kids Gear and Altitude Sports can be done online from anywhere in Canada.

Note that selection of a backpack from All Out Kids Gear and selection of Icebreaker base layers/socks from Altitude Sports is based on availability of stock. The stores will try their best to get you the product of your choice in your desired color/size, but you may have to choose an alternative item (or brand) if they are sold out of what you request. (This will be further explained by email to the winners)

All Out Kids Gear Giveaway 

a Rafflecopter Giveaway

Altitude Sports Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

B-Line Indoor Bike Park Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Trail Blazers Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Calgary Climbing Centre Giveaway (Hanger Location)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Calgary Climbing Centre Giveaway (Rocky Mountain Location)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out these other Family Holiday Gift Guides and Giveaways 

The Gift Guide For Everyone On Your List 2018 - Bring the Kids

The Best Gifts for Skiers - Brave Ski Mom

The Best Outdoor Gifts of 2018 | Editor’s Choice - Outdoor Families Magazine

The Best Adventure-Inspired Gifts for Outdoorsy People - Hiking in my Flip flops

Outdoor Family Gift Guide - 2018 - Tales of a Mountain Mama

The Best Gifts for Travelers  - Traveling Mel

Ethical Gifts for the Outdoor Family (+ Giveaway) - Born to Be Adventurous

Gift Guide for Ski Families - Mountain Mom and Tots

Meaningful Gifts You Actually Want to Give Your Children - Wike Baby

Holiday Gift Guide for Lovers of the Outdoors  - Play Outside Guide

Gift Guide for Adventure Travelers and Outdoor Lovers - Nomads with a Purpose

2018 Ultimate DIY, Handmade Guide for Your Wild Child!- Wilder Child

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

- All Out Kids Gear

- Altitude Sports

- B-Line Indoor Bike Park

- The Calgary Climbing Centre

- Trail Blazers

Monday, November 12, 2018

Wild Mountain Skating Guide for Banff and Kananaskis

Mid-November is here and that means it's game on for wild mountain skating in Banff. Some of the lakes are starting to freeze, thick enough for skating, and are snow free (for now.) Once it snows, the ice will be covered and that will be it for another year.

Wild Mountain Skating in Banff on Johnson Lake

What is "Wild Mountain Skating?"

There are many outdoor ponds, lakes, and rinks in the Rockies that get cleared of snow and maintained by park or resort staff through the winter, usually starting mid to late December. 

November however gives us a different experience where we can often experience "natural skating" on lakes that are not maintained or cleared of snow. 

We often get a brief window mid to late November where some mountain lakes have frozen (thick enough to skate on) without being snow covered yet. Some years, it never happens. Other years, we get a magical window where the ice on certain mountain lakes is smooth like glass and 100% snow free.

Skating across Johnson Lake in Banff on November 11th, 2018

Johnson Lake in Banff is always one of the first lakes to freeze and my family has skated on it nearly every year now for the past 7 years. We started by pushing our son across the ice in a chariot when he was just a toddler, and now, at 9 years old, my son doesn't even like skating indoors anymore. He's become spoiled and loves his wild mountain skating days.

Playing hockey on Johnson Lake, November 9, 2013

Some years we luck out and get ice that's as smooth as glass and 100% snow free (like this year.) Other years, we shovel off a small area to play hockey and skate (as in the photo above where the ice thickness was so bad we never actually went further than this tiny rink we cleared).)

Other years, benevolent angels in the Bow Valley show up with shovels to clear paths around the lake if there's been snow before the lake freezes.

Johnson Lake on November 15, 2014

Other Options Around the Town of Banff for Wild Mountain Skating 

Other options around the Town of Banff for natural skating are Vermilion Lakes (we usually skate on the first lake closest to town,) or Cascade Pond

Skating on the First Vermilion Lake, November 19th, 2016

Later in the season, around mid-December, Two Jack Lake can often be good for skating as well (giving us a second brief window.)

Finally, Lake Minnewanka is a popular skating lake later in the season but I've never caught a window on this one. 

Skating on Two Jack Lake, December 15, 2017

Other Popular Skating Choices in the Bow Valley 

There are many choices, depending on the season. Below are a few popular locations:

  • Lac Des Arcs off the TransCanada Hwy

  • Carrot Creek between Banff and Canmore off the TransCanada Hwy (requires a hike down from the highway. We personally haven't skated here yet.

  • Gap Lake off the Hwy 1A between Canmore and Exshaw

  • Grotto Pond beside the Grotto Canyon Day Use Area (this one is usually cleared by locals and can be skateable into December.)

  • Ghost Lake Reservoir just outside Cochrane off the Hwy 1A (this one is usually skateable through the winter season and is popular with ice sail boats)

Skating on Lac Des Arcs on November 19th, 2016
Gap Lake on December 2nd, 2016
Grotto Pond, December 18th, 2016
Ghost Lake Reservoir on December 21st, 2014

Wild Mountain Skating in Kananaskis

It's a real treat to be able to skate on some of the big lakes in Kananaskis. Dates are variable year to year, and I've only managed to personally skate on a couple of them due to timing.

The crown jewel here is Spray Lake which had the most amazing season in 2017 for about a week where the ice was snow free and smooth as glass. 

Skating on Spray Lake, December 16th, 2017

Last year we also got to skate on Upper Kananaskis Lake which I feel might have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Skating on Upper Kananaskis Lake on December 16th, 2017

Skating on Creeks and Rivers

Truth be told, I almost prefer creeks and rivers over lakes because I think it's fun to skate along a winding channel with bends and interesting features.

Last winter, we heard about people skating on Cougar Creek in Canmore, and had to go check it out. It was absolutely magical!!

Skating down Cougar Creek in Canmore, January 8th, 2018

Basic Directions to find Cougar Creek: 

  1. Start at this off leash dog park in Canmore on Bow Valley Trail / Hwy 1A.

  2. Walk under the bridge (crossing under the 1A)

  3. Follow the creek until you find good skating ice. You will come to a junction where Policeman's Creek and Spring Creek come in to join you from the northwest. Here we headed towards the river and found great smooth ice. 

As this is a skate-hike, you'll need winter boots to reach the ice, and either a backpack to hold your skates (or just carry them.)

Where Cougar Creek meets the Bow River in Canmore

Another option is the Bow River in Banff. The Town of Banff clears an oval on the Bow River downtown Banff along Bow Avenue. This is often skateable throughout the winter and is a nice safe choice.

Skating on the Bow River Oval downtown Banff, January 8th, 2018

Finally, we love skating on the creek in Bowness Park, right in Calgary (super close to home!) It's cleared and maintained through the winter and gives a very natural skating experience close to home.

Skating down the creek in Bowness Park, Calgary 

For more information on where to skate in Banff and Kananaskis:

Banff Town Guide to Ice Skating (with safety information and locations for skating all winter long)

8 Memorable Places to Skate in Banff National Park - Banff Lake Louise Tourism Guide

Ice Skating on the Ghost Lake Reservoir - often great for skating all winter long

How to Love Winter in the Rockies - On Skates!

November is my favourite month to visit Banff  

Johnson Lake 2018 - Pure Magic!! 

Safety Guideline for Ice Thickness

Recommendations for ice thickness are based on clear, blue or green ice: 

3" (7cm) or less STAY OFF

4" (10cm) ice fishing, walking, cross country skiing

5" (12cm) one snowmobile or ATV

8"-12" (20-30cm) one car or small pickup truck

12"-15" (30-38cm) one medium truck (pickup or van)

Skating down Cougar Creek, Canmore on January 8th, 2018

Disclaimer: It is up to you the individual, to verify that all ice is thick enough to skate on. I rely on social media reports, measurements from friends and acquaintances, and sometimes even official warnings/notices from Parks Canada. 

I also don't like to venture out on lakes unless I can see lots of other people enjoying the ice. It gives me a sense of comfort to know that we're not alone on the ice.

I highly recommend bringing a full change of clothes and a rope or even a hockey stick in case you have to pull somebody out. Some people also choose to wear life jackets.

Finally, it's always a good idea to skate with other people in a group (or to choose a lake with many other people out on it.)

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Best Early Season Trails for Cross-Country Skiing near Calgary

This might actually be the biggest reason I love November. My skis FINALLY come up from the basement. We get so excited for this that one year we were practically cross country skiing on dirt at Kananaskis Village on November 6th! - and this year I had my skis out in October!!

October cross-country skiing in West Bragg Creek

For those who like cross country skiing, there are a few places you'll want to check out if you aim to ski in November. And I promise the snow will be better than what you see in the photo above. I just had to post it though because it was October (and I was skiing in a t-shirt!)

Surreal skiing with leaves still on the trees (October 4th, 2018!)

Early Season Skiing at Lake Louise

If you want early season grooming, Lake Louise is your best bet. The Moraine Lake Road is already groomed and track-set for the 2018 season (it was track-set by November 11th this year) and it's safe to say you could plan an annual trip to Louise around the second weekend of November - and have plenty of snow to ski on. 

Early season skiing on the Moraine Lake Road 

The Great Divide has also been groomed and track-set (as of November 10th this year) and is another early-season favourite. Being an old road, it doesn't take much to cover up the pavement for skiing (as is the same with the Moraine Lake Road.)

Most of the other trails will still need a few weeks before they're ready to go, but we did ski Paradise Valley one year in November.

Current Trail Conditions for Banff and Lake Louise

Parks Canada Trail Brochure for Lake Louise 

Cross-country skiing at Lake Louise

Read more:  Family Cross Country Skiing at Lake Louise  (our favourite trails)

November skiing in Paradise Valley at Lake Louise

Early Season Skiing in Banff 

We love skiing the Cascade Fire Road up the Cascade Valley in Banff in November. It requires very little snow to be enjoyed on skis and we've often skied it on the third weekend of the month (which happens to be the same time as the Banff Santa Claus Parade.) 

The trail starts from the Lake Minnewanka Parking lot and follows a section of the Lake Minnewanka loop road (closed to vehicles in winter) before heading up the Cascade Valley. We usually ski as far as the bridge and back for a 14 km return outing. (We got our son up here a few years ago by towing him up with a rope. He loved the ski down.)

Current Trail Conditions for Banff and Lake Louise

Parks Canada Guide to the Cross-country ski trails in Banff

November on the Cascade Fire Road in Banff

And for some early season ski touring in Banff, check out the Boom Lake Trail. It usually gets a lot of snow early in the winter, and we've skied it as a family.

Read more: Family Backcountry Ski Touring in Banff (Boom Lake Trail) 

Snowy bridge on the Boom Lake Trail in Banff

Early Season Skiing in Canmore

The Canmore Nordic Centre is one of the few places where you'll find snow making for x-country trails. This means that the main Banff Avenue Trail can often be open for skiing quite early in the season.

Until the ski trails are ready to go, you can also try a few laps around Frozen Thunder, an early season trail that uses snow from last season, stored up through the summer. This trail is open to the public in the afternoons through the week or all day on weekends starting in October, and is usually around 2 km in length.

Early season skiing on Frozen Thunder at the Canmore Nordic Centre

Note, trail fees are charged to ski Frozen Thunder as well as on the groomed trails once tracksetting has begun.

Current Trail Conditions for the Canmore Nordic Centre

Read more: Family Cross Country Ski Trips - Our Favourite Destinations Near Calgary

Cross country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre 

Early Season Skiing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis

This has become my absolute favourite place to ski before December and our destination is always the Kananaskis Lookout Trail.

The Lookout Trail is only 1.7  km long (one way) but packs a punch with 200 metres of height gain. Climb up on skis and you'll feel your muscles the next day. 

The biggest challenge is that the Lookout Trail is accessed from the Pocaterra Trail, and there's no easy way to reach the junction of the two trails. The shortest way starts with a long climb up the Whiskey Jack ski trail for a total distance of 6 km (one way) to the top of the Lookout from the Boulton Parking Lot. (And Whiskey Jack also gains 200 metres of height, so you're looking at a 400 metre climb!)

Kananaskis Lookout in November 

Fortunately, in November, there's a 
"secret" way to reach the Lookout without having to do the climb up Whiskey Jack. Skiers can sneak on to the Pocaterra Trail from an unmarked pull off on Highway 40 (past the winter road closure, hence why you have to do it in November before the highway closes on December 1st.)

The unmarked pull off to access the Pocaterra Trail is roughly 8 km past the Highway 40 winter gates on the right hand side. You'll be well on your way to Highwood Pass before you reach it. Pull over, cross the little bridge, and ski for a short distance (less than half a kilometre) until you reach the official Pocaterra Trail. Turn left and ski for another half a kilometre (at most) to the Whiskey Jack Junction - where you'll marvel that you've made your way to the TOP of Whiskey Jack by car and not by climbing.

Skiing on the Pocaterra Trail in November

From the Whiskey Jack junction it's another half a kilometre to the Lookout Junction. And your grand total distance for the day will be no more than 6 km round trip. (with no more than 250 to 300 metres of height gain.)

I've done this as a "girls day out" and we did it as a family outing last winter. With our son, we carried his downhill skis with us in case he needed them for the descent. He started out in cross-country skis and would have been fine in them the entire time, but this was one of his first ski trips of the season and there was a LOT of fresh powder (with no recent grooming.) His cross-country skis were also really skinny and we knew it was still early season (with questionable conditions.)

Downhill skis for the decent worked very well in the end, and Noah had a blast ripping down the steep trail through all the fresh snow.

Downhill skis were a lot of fun on the way down from the lookout

And if you have more energy, you can also ski across Pocaterra and Tyrwhitt to Elk Pass, and then ski down the Elk Pass Trail (with a car shuttle) ending much lower than you started. I did this last November with my girlfriends and it was a lot of fun.

Kananaskis Fire Lookout in November

Want an easier day? You can just ski the Pocaterra Trail from Highway 40 (skipping the lookout) and turn around anytime you want. 

The Pocaterra Trail is a very easy early-season ski for kids

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park ski trail brochure

Read More: Winter Adventures in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis 

Kananaskis Lookout in November

Early Season Skiing in the Spray Valley, Kananaskis

Last November we spent a weekend at Mount Engadine Lodge and skied to Watridge Lake while there. The snow was thin and the trail a bit sketchy, but we made it and I don't think we hit any rocks. Wait until early December and you should have no problems with the ski to Watridge Lake.

The trail is 7.5 km round trip and is relatively easy for families, being a wide open road with gradual elevation gain.

Current Trail Report for Spray Valley Provincial Park

Read more: Family Winter Getaways at Mount Engadine Lodge, Kananaskis 

Early season skiing to Watridge Lake in November

And for a great early-season ski touring experience, try Chester Lake, which we have done as a family.

Read more: Introduction to Family Backcountry Ski Touring  (Chester Lake, Kananaskis) 

Getting a free tow across the meadow below Chester Lake (my son used downhill skis to descend this trail)

Early Season Skiing at Kananaskis Village

Kananaskis Village is a nice close options and I've skied here most years in November. Don't expect "amazing" snow until later in November, but if you really want to get out, there should be some track setting up by early December at the latest (packing before then.)

Usually we just start with the short Terrace Loop or extend to include a loop around Kovach for a nice easy 5 km outing.

Desperate for snow early one November at Kananaskis Village

Trail Brochure and map for the Kananaskis Village and Ribbon Creek Ski Trails

Current Trail Report for the Kananaskis Valley 

Read More: Exploring Ribbon Creek in Kananaskis on Skis  (one of our favourite trails!)

Read more: Family Cross Country Ski Trips - Our Favourite Destinations Near Calgary

Once groomed, we love the Ribbon Creek Ski Trail

Early Season Skiing at West Bragg Creek 

West Bragg Creek is another close option and I've definitely skied here most Novembers (and in October this year.) You won't usually get "amazing" snow until later in November, but they've already started packing down the trails for the season and the volunteers here are superstars at getting the trails ready to go as soon as they can.

October skiing in West Bragg Creek

Official Trail Conditions for the Greater Bragg Creek Trail Association

Trail Maps for West Bragg Creek 

Read more: Family Cross Country Ski Trips - Our Favourite Destinations Near Calgary

Family-friendly cross country skiing at West Bragg Creek

Additional Resources and Recommended Reading 

Adventures in Motivation on the Ski Trail 

Cross Country Skiing with Kids - 5 Ways to Make it Fun

Teaching Toddlers and Preschoolers to Cross Country Ski 

November skiing can look pretty good!