One benefit of living in Calgary, especially The Rise at West Grove Estates in West Calgary, is the proximity of the Rocky Mountains and associated outdoor activities. Whether you’re the “outdoorsy type” or not, here are ten hikes that offer views and experiences that can be appreciated by all skill levels.
1. Grassi Lakes Trail –Canmore
Length: 1.9 km
This family-friendly hike provides beautiful views of Canmore at every step, leading you to the majestic Grassi Lakes. There are two options for trails you can take. The easy route, Grassi Lake Upper, takes you on an access road up a gentle slope. The more difficult route, Grassi Lakes Interpretive, goes through a wooded trail, past the Grassi Lakes Waterfall, and up a steep ascent before you end at the lake. Either one will provide unforgettable scenery for the whole family.
2. Johnston Canyon – between Banff and Lake Louise
Length: 1.1 km to Lower Falls, 2.7 km to Upper Falls
This trail is especially well-groomed and ready to receive adventurers of all ages (even those in strollers). You can take a leisurely 20-minute stroll to the Lower Falls or challenge yourself to the Upper Falls at a little more than twice that distance. Both provide views of the Canyon and Johnston Creek and are outfitted with catwalks and lookouts for the inevitable photo ops that you and your fellow hikers will want to take. In addition to the waterfalls, this trail also provides opportunities to explore limestone caves and see the local wildlife, which includes owls and ground squirrels.
3. Grotto Creek Canyon – Canmore
Length: 2.3 km
Snake your way along this creek bed and narrow canyon. Take the time to explore a small cave (about six meters deep) and mysterious ancient rock paintings created 500-1000 years ago by the Hopi. There is an alternative route that will allow you to take in a waterfall.
4. Maligne Canyon – Jasper
Length: 3.7 km
Considered the most interesting canyon in the Canadian Rockies, this trail provides excitement for the whole family. A series of bridges provide dramatic views of springs and limestone boulders.
5. Elbow Lake Trail – Kananaskis
Length: 1.4 km (steep)
Possibly one of the more challenging trails due to the steep elevation, Elbow Lake Trail is relatively short and leads to a beautiful backcountry lake. This trail is the only one in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park that allows equestrian use, so you may see a horse or two on your hike.
6. Troll Falls – Kananaskis
Length: 1.7 km
Wide and flat, this trail is great for sports strollers. It’s also a popular snowshoe trail in the winter. The trail winds through forest with occasional views of Kananaski Valley, ending with a gentle climb to the U-shaped Troll Falls. When you reach the end, you can either return the way you came or continue for a few hundred meters more via the Hay Meadows Loop which will take you along a meandering creek.
7. 12 Mile Coulee – Calgary
Length: 2 km
“Coulee” means valley or gully, and in the case of this coulee, it’s a taste of nature within the city of Calgary. This 190-hectare park in the city’s northwest provides a landscape of prairie grassland, shrubs, and trees as well as wildlife such as Richardson’s ground squirrel, deer, and hawks.
8. Tunnel Mountain – Banff
Length: 2.3 km
Your family can challenge yourself to climbing a mountain with relative ease when you ascend the switchback trail up Tunnel Mountain. When you reach the end of the trail you will be rewarded with views of the Bow and Spray River Valleys, surrounding mountain peaks, and the Banff Springs Golf Course.
9. Path of the Glacier – Jasper
Length: 1.8 km
If climbing a mountain isn’t enough for you, try out this trail to get up close and personal with a glacier. It’s chillier than any of the other trails mentioned, but the cold temperatures will be worth it for the experience and the views.
10. Sunshine Meadows to Rock Isle Lake – Banff
Length: 4 km
You’ll have to take a gondola or bus ride to get to the base of the ski hill where this trail starts, but that results in very little height gain to reach views of amazing alpine meadows with wildflowers of every kind.