Lisa Richardson talks to writer, blogger, outdoor adventure enthusiast and Banff native Meghan Ward to get the low down on the best hikes to tackle with kids.
Meghan says the first step to adventuring with kids is to shift your expectations, and be ready to get your boots dirty.
“Banff is the epitome of access to nature, meets world-class amenities,” she says. “But you wouldn’t believe the number of people who come here and don’t get out of their cars except at the lookouts for a quick photo.”
If you’re coming all the way to Banff, go a little bit further with these soft adventure suggestions.
Looking for more Banff suggestions?
Take a (short) Hike
Meghan advises that parents redefine 'hike' as 'exploratory walk' and invest in a copy of Lynda Pianosi's "Take a Hike with Your Children: from Tots to Tweens in the Canadian Rockies" – a guidebook that features 'hikes' under five kilometers, and a host of alternatives in case the mission is derailed by a small being with a big opinion.
Some of Meghan's favourite options, among the plethora of fantastic short walks around Banff, are equally great for time-pressed travellers:
• The Fenland Loop
A two-kilometre loop just outside town, with lots of plant life to explore and a good possibility of wildlife sightings.
• The Marsh Loop
Starting near the Cave and Basin, is a great place to explore and look for birds. Despite this hike being a short drive from town and an easy walk from the parking lot, it still offers an instant immersion in nature.
• Johnson Lake
Banff’s only beach, which can be explored via walking trail around the lake.
Cover More Ground with Pedal-Power
You can rent bikes to explore the trails around town or bike down a paved path to Sundance Canyon.
Play by the Lakeshore at Lake Louise
Poke around the Bow River in the village, get an ice-cream, and grab a snack from Trailhead Café.
Camp in a Prospector-Style Tent at Two Jack Lake
The 'oTENTiks' at the national park are part A-frame cabin, part tent, with bunk beds, on a raised wooden floor - no set up required! 15 minutes from the town of Banff, this is glamping at its finest.
For Rainy-Day Fun
The best-kept secret in town is the indoor pool, waterslide and hot tub at the Douglas Fir hotel. Ward says it’s a great hotel to book if you’re travelling with small children, but you don’t need to be a hotel guest to visit the pool, a tip that nobody really seems to know about.
The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
has awesome exhibits and the 'Gateway to the Rockies' exhibit is particularly interactive and kid-friendly with its full-size helicopter, Brewster touring car, and railway snowshed.
Banff Upper Hot Springs is a Must
Although it can be quite busy. It’s worth remembering that the hot springs are open all year round, and potentially more fun when it’s rainy.