I grew up in Saskatoon Saskatchewan but every year our family would go camping for a couple of weeks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The mountain ranges became familiar at a young age since we explored and hiked when I was younger than 3 years old. Now that we live in Calgary, I am able to explore the surrounding Calgary area and mountain ranges weekly with my two little girls. Sometimes with my husband and most often without him. These 10 hikes for preschoolers are on our list to complete again this summer and you should try to complete them too!
Not sure whether to hike with your preschoolers or where to start? Start with one of the easy hikes first, take your time and bring lots of food and snacks. Try these hiking games found in this post and let your toddler wear a backpack to help them feel empowered by the hiking experience. Let them carry these items in their backpack.
*Please note: When I talk about steep sections in this post I am saying that they are steep for a toddler/preschooler aged 2-4 years old. I indicate whether the hike will be challenging and if you will need the use of a carrier. Something that is stroller friendly is referring to a sturdy trail stroller like the Thule Chariot or the B.O.B Stroller could handle the trail.
10 Hikes for Preschoolers To Do Near Calgary this Summer
Easy – 2.6 km, 70 m elevation – located 35 minutes from downtown Calgary
This is the perfect first hike for a new little hiker. My youngest completed the hike when she was just under 2 and you can watch the video here. The short drive to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park gets you out of the city and into nature in such a short amount of time. Expect to hike through beautiful forest, pass shelters made of logs and cross a series of bridges with small toddler sized waterfalls. We like ending at the picnic tables where we let the kids explore and play in the water. Just bring a change of clothes! Learn more about the trail here.
Easy- Various short trails (Some Stroller Friendly) – 50 minutes from Downtown Calgary
Elbow falls is a perfect place to explore just outside of Bragg Creek and located 50 minutes from Downtown Calgary. While not a specific hiking trail it does have many walkways and look outs to explore before reaching the waterfall. Instead of heading right back to the car enjoy exploring the rocks alongside the water.
Easy- 3.4 km RT- Stroller Friendly – 1 h 20 minutes from downtown Calgary
Troll Falls hike located near the Kananaskis Village takes you to a stunning large waterfall which is definitely worth the view. The hike itself is easy for tiny hikers but if you are worried about the length you can bring along a carrier or even a stroller*. The only challenging part is the last 10 or so metres to the waterfall. You can decide to park the stroller or continue pushing over large roots. We continued on and made it with our double stroller. Learn more here.
Challenging- 4km RT, 280 m elevation- 1h 40 minutes from Calgary
This stunning hike starts at highwood pass in Kananaskis. Shortly after the trail starts is a steep 1 km incline where most of the 280 metres of elevation happens. After the initial climb the hike levels off and you are within in the alpine surrounded by stunning mountain views, beautiful landscape, and will spot the occasional ground squirrel. This will be a more challenging hike but absolutely breathtaking. Our 3 year old will try to tackle the hike this summer. Read more about the hike here.
Note: The hike does not open until mid-June when Highwood pass is open around June 14th.
Easy -2 km, 18 m elevation – Stroller Friendly – 1 hour from Downtown Calgary
Located in Bow Valley Provincial park this 2 km hike is easy yet full of beautiful mountain views. The hike is perfect for preschoolers just hitting the trail for their first time. Expect wildflowers, mountain views and bird watching while on the trail! Learn more about the trail here.
Moderate- 4.2 km RT, 100 m elevation – 1 h 20 minutes from downtown Calgary
This hike is located only 15 minutes East of Canmore, AB. The hike is perfect for toddlers because it is relatively flat after the first 500 metres of the hike AND the series of bridges (I believe 8 in total after the flood that happened). If your lucky you might even see climbers making their way up the canyon. While the destination is not the most exciting since you can only hear the waterfall there is a slightly larger section of water to throw rocks. The bonus is that you really can turn around anywhere if needed and not feel like you have missed some big final ending. Learn more here but note that although it says 2.8 km return I have been told that distance is from the trail head. The actual distance from the Heart Creek parking lot is 4.2 km return.
Moderate/Challenging- 4.2 km, 245 m elevation – Stroller Friendly Option- 1 h 21 minutes from downtown Calgary
Grassi lakes is an extremely popular family hike for good reason. It takes you up to two beautiful turquoise lakes and offers a few options for families with little kids. Choose to take the easy way up along a gravel service road. This route is less interesting but is also the path that you can use a stroller on. The other trail is more challenging because it takes you up a steeper grade. The bonus of taking this route is that you have better views AND you get to pass a waterfall. There is a cliff so make sure to watch your little ones. Once you finish having a picnic at the top head down the easy route to save your knees and let the little ones enjoy running down the trail. Learn more about the hike here.
Easy- 3 km RT, small elevation at the beginning – 1h 30 minutes from Calgary
Rock Isle Lake is a 3 km roundtrip hike from the Sunshine Gondola on Sunshine Mountain. This beautiful hike levels off after a short incline up the hill. Then you continue hiking while being surrounded by amazing alpine and expansive mountain views. Last year our then 2 year old completed the hike with little issues and I expect our 2 year old will finish it on her own two feet. For a shorter option take the chair lift from the gondola and enjoy a 1 km downhill hike to the Lake. Learn more here.
Note: You do have to pay for the gondola and chair lift if you choose to use them which does cost. There are also other hiking options from here that are longer if you feel like you can explore the area more with your little ones.
Challenging- 4.3 km RT, 300 metres elevation OR 3.6 km RT, less elevation – 1 h 30 min from downtown Calgary
This hike offers beautiful views of Banff and Mount Rundle. I recommend bringing along a carrier just in case your little one gets tired and needs a break. We had a blast watching our newly turned 3 year old hike the shorter version, 3.6 km return from Tunnel Drive, last year while our 1 year old hung out in the carrier. For more trail information click here.
Easy/Moderate- 1.6 km RT, 30 m elevation or 4.8 km RT, 120 m elevation – 1 h 45 minutes from Calgary
This unique hike along a catwalk in the canyon takes you to one or two thundering waterfalls and is the perfect toddler hike. Choose to go to the lower falls only 800 m from the parking lot or to the upper falls. The upper falls add in quite a bit more distance, 4.8 km return, and 120 m incline. Please note that this hike is extremely popular with tourists and going in the morning during the weekdays is recommended. More trail information here.
Enjoy these hikes for preschoolers and get out on the trails!
*Please note: When I talk about steep sections in this post I am saying that they are steep for a toddler/preschooler aged 2-4 years old. I indicate whether the hike will be challenging and if you will need the use of a carrier. Something that is stroller friendly is referring to a sturdy trail stroller like the Thule Chariot or the B.O.B could handle the trail.