5 fantastic family-friendly hikes to check out in Alberta

Apr 19 2023, 10:04 pm

Get out of the house and explore some great family-friendly hikes in Alberta.

Your little hikers will love these trails and it’s a perfect way for them to learn about the great outdoors – plus, you can typically bring the dog along, too, as long as they’re leashed, so these routes are truly fun for the whole family.

Highlights on these treks include waterfalls, lakes, mountain views, and even some sneaky little Troll dolls to find, ensuring that the kids are entertained the whole way along.

For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available from Albertaparks.ca and AdventureSmart. Parks Canada visitor guidelines are available here. Always remember to leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, stick to designated trails, and refrain from feeding wildlife — and please note that irresponsibly taken selfies (even if they look great for the ‘gram) can be fatal. 

And without further ado, here are five fantastic family-friendly hikes to check out in Alberta.

Wild Rose Loop


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Difficulty: Easy
Location: Brown Lowery Provincial Park (head toward Priddis and then follow Plummers Road West until you reach the Brown Lowery parking lot)
Length: 4.8 km
Elevation: 143 m
Route type: Loop

This trail is fantastic for those who love wildflowers. They don’t call Alberta “Wild Rose Country” for nothing. This walk is less than five kilometres long and moderately trafficked. The trails can get a little slippery in the winter, so pack spikes or good boots accordingly. It’s super easy to navigate the loop and you’re rewarded with a beautiful view of the mountains and downtown Calgary. This trail is also dog friendly, but please keep them leashed at all times. Tell the kids to keep their eyes open for moose and deer that frequent the area!

Heart Creek Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Location: Heart Creek Provincial Recreation Area (jump onto the Trans-Canada Highway and head towards Canmore. Take the turnoff at the sign for Heart Creek Trail, immediately opposite Lac des Arcs, and park in the lot, where you’ll find the trailhead)
Length: 4.8 km
Elevation: 307 m
Route type: Out and back

This hike is perfect if the kids (or you) want to see a waterfall, and it’s easily accessible year-round. The trailhead is just off the main highway, but once you get into it, the traffic noise is replaced by the sound of babbling brooks and running waterfalls. Part of the hike even runs through a mini canyon. This is definitely a walk for the kiddos and, as such, experienced adult hikers might find it a bit underwhelming, but it’s a great introduction to the mountains and the little ones will have fun adventuring across the many bridges and little creeks. Please check conditions before heading out, as it can get icy and crampons may be needed.

Troll Falls Trail to Stoney Trail Loop


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Difficulty: Easy
Location: Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area (head over to Kananaskis Village, off of Kananaskis Trail, and then the turnoff for this trailhead can be found on Mount Allan Drive)
Length: 3.5 km
Elevation gain: 177 m
Route type: Loop

This hike is a family favourite. The trail is well-packed down and features two sets of waterfalls. The lower falls are easily accessible in all seasons, but the upper falls can be a bit more difficult due to the steepness of the trail and the slippery conditions. Please use caution if you’re heading up to them and stick to the trail markers. The route is easy to follow and pup-friendly (don’t forget the leash!). It is also quite common for deer and bears to be in the area, so make sure you pack some bear spray just in case. There’s a big tepee off to the left of the trail in the woods when you head towards the lower falls, and be sure to stay on the lookout for all the Troll dolls that are hidden in the trees along the way. They’re normally placed at kids’ eye level, so fingers crossed that your little explorer can find them!

Three Sisters Creek


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Difficulty: Easy
Location: Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park (this trail can be accessed from Three Sisters Mountain Village. Head along Three Sisters Boulevard and you’ll find the trailhead right at the intersection of Hubman Landing and 109 Armstrong Place)
Length: 3.4 km
Elevation gain: 174 m
Route type: Out and back

This is a great little hike for young families; however, it can get a bit icy at times, so make sure to check the conditions or bring crampons. Make sure you keep walking past the “private property” signs, there is a public pathway just a little further down. You’ll find a waterfall here and a lovely stream running along the trail. There’s also a second waterfall if you cross the shallow creek. This is also a great place to catch the sunrise or sunset if you’re in the area at the right time.

Canyon Creek Ice Cave Trail


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Difficulty: Moderate
Location: Kananaskis Country Public Land Use Zone (follow Highway 66 until you reach the turnoff for Canyon Creek Road. There will be a parking lot off to the right labeled “Ing’s Mine.” The trailhead starts on the access road after a fork in the road, prior to the helicopter landing area)
Length: 12.9 km
Elevation gain: 472 m
Route type: Out and back

This trail is more for the older kids as it’s longer in duration. It’s an almost-13-kilometre round trip that takes approximately four hours to complete. This hike is super nice in the spring and summer, with plenty of people using it for biking and running. The area can get quite warm in the summer months, so feel free to take a dip in the little creeks that are around. Once you’ve reached the end of the road, you’ll find a small trail through the alpine, which can get quite steep but offers amazing views. There is a bit of a scramble area here, but it’s easy to do if you are familiar with how to approach this type of terrain. Small children might have an issue navigating it, but more experienced teenage and adult hikers should be fine. Plus, at the end, there’s an awesome ice cave to explore, so pack your headlamp.

These family-friendly hikes are an awesome way to get everybody out of the house and breathe in that fresh mountain air. Make sure you pack accordingly and check trail conditions before heading off – safe practices are the best practices!

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Madeline HoskingMadeline Hosking

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