Thursday, April 22, 2021

Biking around Calgary with Kids - The Best Family Pathways and Trails

We love spring biking in Calgary when the mountain trails are still icy and snow covered. You can go skiing in the morning, return to Calgary and go for a great bike ride - all in the same day.

In this guide I've featured our favourite pathways and trails around Calgary. I've started with pathways in the north, continued to our favourite pathways in the south, and ended with a couple of destinations just outside Calgary.

Calgary has many amazing bike paths and trails across the city! (Photo: Nose Hill Park)

Biking around Bowness, Baker Park, and Bowmont, NW Calgary 

We live in the NW so this is our go to area for biking in Calgary. There are beautiful flat paved trails in Bowness Park and you can connect to the Bow River Regional Pathway to make a loop with Baker Park on the other side of the river. - and if you like disc golf, bring a bike lock and a few discs because there's a great course in Baker Park! And this is a great loop for novice riders with only a couple hills as you go up and down off the bridges at either end.

Other attractions here in Bowness Park include a wading pool in summer, geocaches to find, a playground, nature trails to walk, boat rentals on the pond, and miniature train rides around the park.

Biking the paved regional pathway from Baker Park into Bowmont

From Bowness Park or Baker Park we also like to bike into the Bowmont Natural Area along the Bow River Pathway. In Bowmont you'll find a great mixture of paved pathways, dirt trails for mountain biking, and fun places to play near the river. There's a pond as well that we've enjoyed swimming in on hot days.

Further along in Bowmont, we love exploring the gravel trails around Dale Hodges Park (a brand new wetlands area) and there's a fun "unofficial" jump park here too at the back of the park near the cliffs. To access this area, it's easier to park at the far end either at Shouldice Park or from the parking lot off Home Road and 52nd Street.

Note the paved pathway is flat as you leave Baker Park but then there is a big climb up to Silver Springs. Once on top, the path is more "rolling" until it drops steeply down to the river again near Dale Hodges Park. It is not a beginner pathway ride. (This is one of the only sections of the Bow River regional pathway with steep hills in Calgary.)

Biking the gravel pathways around Dale Hodges Park 

Recommended Rides:

Bowness - Baker Park Loop (All Trails) - 4.3 km paved loop 

Baker Park - Bowmont Loop (All Trails) - This map is just to give you a general look at the area. You can choose dirt or paved trails. You can also turn around at any point, or you can jump onto the Bowmont Trails from several different parking lots (just look for the P symbols.)

Bowmont Traverse (All Trails) - This shortens your ride a bit and we've often started at the parking lot off 85th Street.

Mountain Biking the Bowmont Singletrack Trail

Bowmont Singletrack mountain bike traverse through Bowmont
(Trail Forks) - This is one of our favourite mountain bike rides in the city. The first bit of the trail has some steep climbing, so we often climb up the paved trail into Silver Springs and then hop on at the top to ride the trail heading east. If you ride the whole thing, you'll end up at Dale Hodges Park. Or you can connect onto the paved pathway at any time. Return on the singletrack trail or the paved trail. 

Note Trail Forks rates this trail as "beginner" but it is by no means a "novice ride." Kids will need experience riding narrow trails - and the trail feels a tad exposed in spots if you're new to mountain biking.

The unofficial Dale Hodges Jump Park 

Biking across Nose Hill Park, NW Calgary 

Nose Hill is one of my favourite places to bike in Calgary! It has some beautiful paved pathways across the park and it is a great place to get some experience with easy dirt/gravel riding. Most of the trails are nice and wide, many of them old grass covered roads, and the City of Calgary has created gravel pathways across much of the park.

For the easiest biking, start at the parking lot off Shaganappi Trail. This is the only starting spot for "relatively flat" riding across the middle of Nose Hill. Start anywhere else and you'll have to climb up first. 

You'll feel far away from the city when you start biking across Nose Hill Park 

One of the teepees on Nose Hill Park that you can find while biking 

And if you're into geocaching, this park is a gold mine for them! Try to find the following locations on Nose Hill (they all show up on the geocaching app by Groundspeak) and if you purchase a premium subscription you'll be able to find more caches as well. 

- The Nose Hill Glacial Erratic (NE side of the park)

- The Seasonal Pond (SE side the park) -  located near the geocache in this link

- The Nose Hill Medicine Wheel (SE side of the park)

- The Nose Hill Labyrinth (SE side of the park)  

- The large teepee (NW side of the park) - located near the geocache in this link

You can also go to Google Maps to find the erratic, the medicine wheel, and the labyrinth (stone maze.)

Playing around on the glacial erratic on Nose Hill 

The Nose Hill Labyrinth or Stone Maze 

Maps and Routes:

Trails across Nose Hill Park  (All Trails) - the South Loop goes to the seasonal pond.

Nose Hill pathway map  (Trail Forks) - The network of trails on Nose Hill can be very confusing! I usually have the Trail Forks app open on my phone to keep track of where we are. Note you can use Trail Forks for free on your computer but you'll have to pay if you want to use the app. I have a yearly membership.

The Nose Hill Medicine Wheel 

Country riding across the middle of Nose Hill Park 

Bow River Regional Pathway Rides 

The Bow River Pathway starts in the far NW near Bowness and Baker Park and ends way down south in Fish Creek Park. 

The pathway is paved and relatively flat most of the time (other than the section through Bowmont.) To skip the section through Bowmont, you can take Bow Crescent through Bowness which will take you to Shouldice Park - where you can hop on the regional pathway again. 

You'll be sharing Bow Crescent with vehicles, but it's a quiet road and very popular with cyclists who don't want to climb up to Silver Springs, just to drop back down to the river. The rest of the time, this pathway is almost always down near the river. Here is a link to the bridges where you leave the pathway to hop on to Bow Crescent. Once on Bow Crescent just follow it all the way to the end.

One of the train bridges you'll pass by in Bowmont as you ride downtown 

For maps and route finding, I always find the City of Calgary Pathway Map difficult to use, but it's better than nothing. And there is an app you can put on your phone. Alternately, look up the regional pathways on Trail Forks (they're broken down into segments and show up as purple trails,) or even use Google Maps and select "walking" if you want the regional pathway to show up rather than roads. 

Easy riding along the Bow River Pathway in Calgary 

Some of our favourite Bow River Regional Pathway rides include:

  • Shouldice Park to Edworthy Park, NW - 7 km return (Bike from the Shouldice Playground to Angel's CafĂ© for ice-cream.)

  • Edworthy Park, NW to downtown - 20 km return to the East Village and St. Patrick's Island playgrounds. (We like to stop at Prince's Island too so there's several stops for playgrounds!)

  • Downtown traverse from St. Patrick's Island to the Peace Bridge and Prince's Island Park - 6 km return (We park at the West Zoo parking lot which offers free parking for zoo members.) - And I highly recommend visiting the new Flyover Playground along Memorial Drive under Edmonton Trail.
The new Flyover Playground under Edmonton Trail downtown 

Everybody loves riding across the Peace Bridge downtown Calgary 

  • Pearce Estate Park, SE to downtown - 6 km return to the St. Patrick's Island playground (and you pass right by the Nellie Breen Playground which is a great park.) - And there's a big parking lot at Pearce Estate Park!

  • Pearce Estate Park to Carburn Park, SE - 20 km return (and this is a quiet section of the pathway if you're trying to find somewhere to ride on the weekend when the city is busy.)

  • Carburn Park to the Chinook Rotary Nature Park (Fish Creek Park,) SE - 24 km return (Along this ride you'll pass through Fish Creek Park past Mallard Point, across the Highway 22X, ending at a beautiful wetlands area below the neighborhood of Cranston.) - And you can stop at the Fish Creek Bike Park (more info below under the Fish Creek section.)

I love biking through SE Calgary where the regional pathway is nice and quiet 

Nose Creek and Elbow River Regional Pathway Rides, NE and SE Calgary

The Elbow River Pathway is another paved regional pathway that starts downtown at Fort Calgary and ends at the Glenmore Reservoir in the south. 

Last summer we started at West Nose Creek Park (Confluence Park) in the NE and we followed the Nose Creek Pathway (also paved and easy riding when heading north to south) to the Calgary Zoo. From the zoo we followed the regional pathway to Fort Calgary. Then we continued south to Sandy Beach Park on the Elbow River Pathway - where we phoned home for a ride to get back to our car. Our ride was just over 20 km one way (all flat or downhill.)

We like to start at Confluence Park and bike the Nose Creek Pathway

The Nose Creek Pathway isn't my personal "favourite" trail as it parallels Deerfoot Trail much of the time, but it's a fabulous way to extend a pathway ride along the Elbow River Pathway. And if you have time, make sure you go check out the Split Rock in Confluence Park before starting your ride south. 

Biking downtown on the Nose Creek Pathway 

For an easier Elbow River ride (without a shuttle,) start at Fort Calgary and ride to Sandy Beach Park and back (roughly 20 km return.) Along the way you'll pass through Stampede Park and you'll find playgrounds along your ride as well.

Note the Elbow River Pathway detours through several communities and we always find ourselves getting lost. If you choose to bike the Elbow, make sure you're good at reading maps and follow your route on Trail Forks or Google Maps.

Arriving at Sandy Beach after riding along the Elbow River Pathway

For a shorter outing you can also also bike around Confluence Park on the paved and gravel trails. We did this last spring and it was a lot of fun meandering along the creek. 

For route finding, you can either use the Trail Forks App, the City of Calgary pathways map mentioned above, or look up your route on Google Maps.

Fun biking through Confluence Park along natural creek side trails 

Glenmore Reservoir Loop, SW Calgary 

This paved trail loops the Glenmore Reservoir in a 15 km ride. We always start from North Glenmore Park, bike down the steep hill to the Weaselhead, crossing the Elbow River, and then climb up to South Glenmore Park. 

In South Glenmore Park we usually stop at the playground and bring swim suits for the spray park in summer. We also like to stop at the concrete pump track located right beside the paved path.

From South Glenmore we continue our ride around the reservoir passing by a McDonalds where we like to stop for ice-cream, Heritage Park, the Rockyview General Hospital and the Lakeview Golf Course. The ride finishes with a traverse across North Glenmore Park where there are a few playgrounds. 

Riding around the Glenmore Reservoir 

Note that the paved pump track in South Glenmore Park is temporarily closed until summer 2021. Maybe don't get the kids too excited about it unless you know it's open.

While this loop is paved, I would not consider it a beginner ride. The hills down and back up between North Glenmore and South Glenmore Park are very big and you will want gears on the kids' bikes (or else plan to walk up the hill to South Glenmore.) The rest of the loop is much easier with rolling hills but it's always a good cardio workout.

Biking around the paved pump track at South Glenmore Park 

Western Headworks Canal Pathway (SE Calgary to Chestermere)

This paved bike trail is generally flat, and great for novice riders. We rode it last spring and started on the outskirts of Calgary, riding to Chestermere and back. 

You can see the bike trail on All Trails here. It is 25 km in length (one way) but much shorter if you start from the edge of Calgary. 

Last year we started just east of Stony Trail (around 84th Street SE) parking on the side of the road, and it was approximately 18 km round trip.

Easy biking on the Western Headworks Canal Pathway

You can also see it on Trail Forks (where I find it easy to figure out a starting spot.) - note you have to pay for Trail Forks if you want to use the app on your phone. I have a yearly subscription.

In summer, you could extend your ride with a visit to the beach in Chestermere but you'll add another 3 km to your ride (one way) and have to ride along West Chestermere Drive to the far end of the lake. There is no pathway connecting the canal to the beach.

Riding along the Canal Pathway from Chestermere to SE Calgary 

 Fish Creek Traverse from Bow Valley Ranch to Shannon Terrace, South Calgary

We biked from the Bow Valley Ranch to Shannon Terrace last spring and it was 20 km round trip. It only took us 2 hours and we could have made a day out of it with geocaching or stops to play in the creek. We definitely stopped for ice-cream at the end at Annie's.

To extend your ride by a few kilometres, start at the Burmsmead parking lot where you'll be able to play at the Fish Creek Bike Park before or after your traverse. 

Riding the paved pathways across Fish Creek is great for families!

See a map of the park and the trail system here. You'll also find the paved pathway on Trail Forks (all paved trails are purple on  the app.)

For another great option in Fish Creek, bike from Mallard Point to the Highway 22X and back in a 12 km loop. You can continue further south as well through the Chinook Rotary Nature Park (a short out and back ride between Fish Creek and the neighborhood of Cranston.)

Stopping for a rest in the Chinook Rotary Nature Park in Fish Creek Park

The beautiful thing about Fish Creek is that you can customize your ride to make it as short or as long as you want. 

Choose a distance that you want to ride and plan out a route that will work for your family. Most of the Bow Valley Pathway is relatively flat with gradual hills.

The Fish Creek Bike Park is one of our favourite starting spots in the park for bike rides

There are also many singletrack trails (ranging in varying levels of difficulty,) wider gravel travels, and easy non-paved pathways throughout the park. To find trails for your family I recommend using the Trail Forks app where you can see all of the trails with their difficulty level. 

Riding the singletrack through Fish Creek Provincial Park

Cochrane Pathway Rides 

We started exploring the pathways along the river in Cochrane last spring and now it's one of our favourite places to go for a bike ride.

There are a few places to start your bike ride:

Biking around Riverfront Park - Park at Riverfront Park and head east along the paved pathway to the River Avenue Bridge which is approximately 5 km return and relatively flat. 

We also like to make a short detour to the tunnel under Griffin Road (look for the wide dirt pathway heading north from the paved trail near the disc golf course.) - and if you like disc golf bring some discs with you.

Riding through the tunnel under Griffin Road 

The awesome Riverfront Park Tunnel 

And guaranteed, your children will enjoy a stop to play down by the river where there's a fun creek as well. There's also a small nature playground in Riverfront Park.

Playing in the creek in Riverfront Park

To extend your ride, climb up to the Cochrane Skate Park or continue climbing up to Mitford Park and beyond heading west.

The Cochrane Skate Park is always a fun place to stop 

Riverfront Park Map (the yellow square is the tunnel)

Mitford Park to West Pointe on the Glen Boles Trail - Park at Mitford Park and head west on the paved path. The path stops at the far end of the West Pointe neighborhood and this is a very beautiful section of pathway. The return ride is no more than 5 km in length. 

You can also start at the skate park or at Riverfront Park. Know that there is a very large hill climbing up from the river, and another hill from the skate park. For the flattest ride, start at Mitford Park.

Beautiful riding between Mitford Pond and West Pointe, Cochrane

Between Mitford Park and the end of West Pointe the trail is relatively flat other than one large hill down heading west (and then a climb back up heading east.) Walk it if you have to. 

Leave the city behind and go biking in Cochrane!

Biking towards West Pointe, Cochrane

Spray Lakes Sawmill Recreation Centre to Riverfront Park - Last spring we parked at the recreation centre (where there's a very large parking lot) and we rode through the off leash dog park on a paved trail heading west. Alternately if you don't want to go through the off leash dog park, start by the River Avenue Bridge. 

From the recreation centre we rode to Riverfront Park and then we continued all the way to the end of West Pointe before turning around when the pathway ended. 

For a great map of the entire area:

Follow this link to the Bow River Trail on All Trails. It starts from River Avenue Bridge and goes to West Pointe. It also shows the trail following Big Hill Creek and crossing under Griffin Road (through the tunnel.)

Easy biking across Riverfont Park 

I recommend riding east to west because you'll do "most" of your climbing on the way out, and enjoy an easy ride heading back.

Our complete traverse was only 13 km in distance return (all the way to the end of the pathway at West Pointe.) For a shorter ride, just bike from the recreation Centre to Riverfront Park and loop the pathways there.

Biking down towards the Riverfront Avenue Bridge on a side trail

And while you're in Cochrane, make sure you stop in at the new Launch Pad bike park! You can check to see if it's dry and open first on the Bike Cochrane Society Facebook Page. 

The Launch Pad in Cochrane 

Other places to explore in Cochrane:

From Riverfront Park, cross the river on the bridge (there's a sidewalk) and bike along the south side of the river on a paved trail to Jumpingpound Creek. Then there's a fun dirt trail that takes you along the creek. See the Jumpingpound Creek loop on All Trails

From Jumpingpound Creek you can also ride over into the next community on the south side of the river and loop around the Bow Ridge Loop. We just biked around this area and didn't do the full loop, but rode to the end of the path along the edge of the ridge and then returned the same way. It was paved the entire time. 

Jumpingpound Creek is a fun place to explore on bikes

Biking around Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park 

Glenbow Ranch is another place we like to explore near Calgary on our bikes. There's a fairly large parking lot, but if it's full please have a backup plan in mind because you are not allowed to park on the access road. 

The Glenbow Trail (the starting point for every ride in the park) 

From the parking lot there's a very large hill that you'll have to ride down to the river on the main Glenbow Trail. Fortunately it's paved, but it means you will have to climb it at the end of your ride. The hill is less than 0.5 km in length though so just walk it if you have to.

Once you're at the bottom of the hill, head east on the paved Glenbow Trail where the riding is relatively flat with a few short hills as you head towards the Narrows. 

See the Glenbow Trail on All Trails here. The entire trail is paved. All Trails lists the trail as 13 km return but ride as far as you want and turn around.

And the big question: Can you connect the Glenbow Trail to Calgary? - Not yet. It's still in the works, but progress has been very slow. So for now, you'll have to ride out and back.

Easy paved biking on the Glenbow Trail through Glenbow Ranch 

Glenbow Ranch River Loop

From the Glenbow Trail, this is a fun riverside loop to try with the kids. It's not paved, but it's a flat gravel trail and easy to ride. We like it for an add on to the Glenbow Trail either on the way out or on the way back.

Biking on the Glenbow Ranch River Loop 

Bow Bend/Badger Bowl Loop 

From the bottom of the big hill, ride west and you'll be on the Bow Bend Trail. This is another paved trail. It has gorgeous views but also more climbing the further west you go. It climbs up to the junction with the Badger Bowl where you can get on a dirt/gravel trail for some easy mountain biking. Riding through the Badger Bowl is mostly downhill at this point and you'll end up back on the Bow Bend Trail lower down. 

Biking through the Badger Bowl in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

See all of the trails in Glenbow Ranch on either Trail Forks or on All Trails. 

Note that the Tiger Lilly Loop is not open to bikes nor is the Yodel Loop.

Biking the paved Bow Bend Trail through Glenbow Ranch

Other Fun Places to Visit with Bikes

Kids love bike parks and below are a few that aren't already mentioned above.

SE Flint Park Pump Track -This is a paved pumptrack and a lot of fun! There's no parking beside the park but you can bike over from one of the nearby streets in the community. Do not park in the alley beside the park. The link takes you to the Google Maps location.

Chestermere Bike Park - This park has a large jump section, a smaller pump track, and a skills loop. The link takes you to the website to see if the park is dry and open. For location, go to Google Maps.

The Chestermere Bike Park is a lot of fun for an adventure near Calgary

Livingston Bike Park, NW Calgary - This is a large dirt pump track. It's been generally quiet whenever we've visited the park. The link takes you to the Google Maps location.

Montgomery Bike Park, NW Calgary - This small bike park has some wooden features, practice trails, and a small pump track. The park is growing though and plans are in the works for a paved pump track. The link takes you to the Google Maps location.

For a full list of bike parks near Calgary, check out the guide below:

Read: Pump Tracks and Mountain Bike Skills Parks, Alberta and British Columbia 

The Flint Park pump track, SE Calgary 

Other Recommended Reading 

Epic Family Bike Rides: Johnston Canyon via the 1A Highway

The Best Spring Bike Rides in Kananaskis 

The Best Family Bike Trails in Kananaskis 

The Best Family Bike Trails in Canmore 

Biking the High Rockies Trail in Kananaskis 

Spring Road Trip to Drumheller (and bike to a ghost town!)

Bike and Hike Closed Campgrounds near Calgary this Spring

The Best Family Bike Trails in Banff National Park 

5 Steps to Crushing Local Mountain Bike Trails as a Family

Hello Wheels! Success Strategies for Pedaling into another Bike Season

Monday, April 12, 2021

Epic Family Bike Rides: Johnston Canyon via the 1A Highway

Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park and I'm convinced it's been plastered across billboards world wide. We used to avoid this crowded trail most summers but last year access was closed to vehicles (to promote physical distancing) and it suddenly became a beautiful, peaceful hike to do with the family (requiring a short bike ride to reach the trailhead.)

The 1A Highway is a great spring bike ride in Banff! 

Biking on the Closed Highway 1A (Bow Valley Parkway)

The information below has been updated for 2023. In previous years you could bike to Johnston Canyon from Castle Junction on a "closed to vehicles" section of the Highway 1A. This has changed for the next few years and you'll be biking from the Town of Banff instead if you want to avoid sharing the highway with vehicles.

Parks Canada launched a three-year cycling pilot program along the Bow Valley Parkway's eastern section between the Town of Banff and Johnston Canyon starting in 2022.

"Each spring and fall from May 1 to June 25 and from September 1 to September 30, vehicle access will be restricted along the eastern 17 km of the parkway to allow for an enhanced cycling experience. Access to Johnston Canyon's day-use area and campground, will be maintained via Castle Junction and the TransCanada Highway during the pilot program."

If you want to bike to Johnston Canyon you will have to ride from the Town of Banff to the canyon and back, a distance of 24 km one way if you start from the recommended parking area at the Banff Train Station.

The highway will be closed between the Town of Banff and the Johnston Canyon parking lot. On this stretch there will be no vehicles at all. 

From Johnston Canyon to Castle Junction and beyond to Lake Louise the Highway 1A is open to all vehicles. 

Setting up a shuttle:

If you don't want to do the return ride, set up a shuttle and have a second vehicle parked at Castle Junction. You'll have to share the final section of the highway with traffic but it's only 6 km from Johnston Canyon to Castle Junction.

As you can see from the map below, the distance from Banff to Castle Junction is 23 km one way, a doable distance if you do it one way. (Note though this assumes you're starting from the 1A highway itself and parking on the side of the road rather than in the Town of Banff.)

If you want to set up a shuttle to ride the highway one direction, I'd start at Castle Junction where you'll have more downhill riding and less climbing (though you'll still have some hills to climb in either direction.)

It would appear from  Google Maps that from Castle Junction you would gain 95 metres in height and descend 144 metres.

And note that map above is set for walking (so it likely would not take you over 4 hours to do the ride one way!)

Spring Highway Riding is Awesome! 

Starting your Ride from Castle Junction

The ride from Castle Junction to Johnston Canyon is only 6 km one way. The ride is relatively flat and should be generally easy for most children with previous biking experience.

The hike to the Upper Falls is 5.4 km round trip and plan for an ice-cream stop at the resort before continuing on to Banff.

Remember, this section of the 1A is open to vehicles! 

Have you ever seen this bridge and the Lower Falls without people??

Families who want a longer ride can continue on the closed highway. Turn around whenever you get tired. Families who want a longer hike can continue on to the Ink Pots beyond the Upper Falls (which would extend your hike to 11.6 km round trip total distance.)

We did this ride + hike last spring and LOVED it. It was such an easy ride, the scenery was pretty, we saw a bear, and the hiking trail was deserted.

And speaking of bears, bring your bear spray, ride in a group, make noise, put bells on your bikes if you want, and don't let the kids ride ahead or behind by themselves. You're definitely in bear country. (For this reason I won't do this ride solo with my son.)

The Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon (especially powerful in spring!)

Other things to take note of:

  • There is a large parking lot across from Castle Mountain Chalets where you can park to start your ride.

  • There are bathrooms at the Johnston Canyon parking lot and they are open. (There are no bathrooms at Castle Junction so plan ahead!)

  • Bring a bike lock and plan to secure your bikes (we locked ours to a tree last year.)

  • Bring masks if you plan to go inside the resort to buy ice-cream, snacks, drinks, or lunch

  • Instruct your children to move to the side if you see a vehicle coming towards you or hear one from behind. 

Boardwalks in Johnston Canyon - completely empty!

Starting your Ride from Banff 

Personally if I was going to do the section of the 1A from Banff, I'd do it as a shuttle and ride the full highway from Castle Junction. However, if you don't want to set up a shuttle, or you only want to ride the closed highway section, starting in Banff will allow you a nice long ride to the trailhead and back.

The return distance for this one is 32 km + an added bonus that they don't want you parking on the side of the highway so they'd prefer you start in the Town of Banff! 

It's asked that you park at the Train Station parking lot in Banff. From here you'd have to bike along Vermilion Lakes Road (shared with vehicles) to the far end, and then hop on the paved Legacy Trail to reach the 1A. 

Plan on an additional 5-6 km of riding if starting from the Town of Banff. (For a total of 37+ km of biking.)

Again, myself, I'd set up a shuttle if you want to bike the whole highway. Castle Junction to the Town of Banff would require 28+  km of biking but you could always leave the kids at the Fireside day use area (at the end of the 1A) with an adult and send a second adult back into Banff for the vehicle. The actual 1A ride is only 23 km from Castle to Fireside.

No vehicles and a wide open highway!

Spring Conditions and When to do this Ride + Hike 

By April the Highway 1A is usually snow free and good to go for biking. However, I'd expect snow and ice on the Johnston Canyon Trail. Bring spikes or ice cleats. The waterfalls may still be partially frozen  as well.

Also watch the forecast before heading out. If it's recently snowed in Banff you'll want to wait for a day or two for the highway to dry out again.

I'd personally wait until May to do the ride + hike for the best experience, but if you want the most solitude, go sooner than later.

Family Riding on the 1A in Banff 

Other Recommended Reading

The Best Family Bike Trails in Canmore