Getting out and hiking with your kids is such a great way to spend time together. It is even better when the hikes are manageable and enjoyable for little hikers to do on their own two feet. The great news is that tThere is no need to sacrifice a view or outdoor experience because they hike is easier. These 10 waterfall hikes for preschoolers range from small waterfalls that are fun to explore to thundering awe inspiring falls that will take your breath away.
Note: Always make sure to check trail conditions before going on a hike.
Try these hiking games for kids on the trail to make the experience more fun.
Not sure if your child should carry their own backpack or what they should carry? Have your preschooler pack their backpack with these items.
10 Waterfall Hikes for Preschoolers To Do near Calgary
Easy – 2.6 km, 20 m elevation – located 35 minutes from downtown Calgary
A favourite hike for many families around the Calgary area is Big Hill Springs. Start this hike on the trail on the left of the main picnic entrance. Head up the the steepest part of the trail before the trail levels off. On this trail you will pass one or two Tee Pee shaped shelters that are a great place for a break and a little exploring. Continue to the lookout with a viewing bench before heading down the hill where the trail continues alongside the water. Eventually you will pass multiple small waterfalls that are perfect for the little adventurers to enjoy. Learn more about Big Hill Springs here.
Please note: This area is gaining in popularity and the surrounding vegetation is suffering from those adventuring off trail.
Easy- Various short trails (Some Stroller Friendly) – 50 minutes from Downtown Calgary
Elbow falls has a series of short trails adjacent to the parking lot to explore before seeing the thundering Elbow falls. This is the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful waterfall without having to do much hiking. After watching the falls make sure to let your little one explore the large rock area ahead of the falls before heading home. Learn more about Elbow Falls here.
This hike is a easy but beautiful toddler hike that follows a wide trail most of the way to the falls located off highway 40. In the winter time this trail is a cross-country skiing trail. About halfway to the falls the trees open up to a wide open view of the adjacent mountains. Continue on until the path takes you to a narrow trail with large tree roots. Follow this path for about 20 metres before reaching the beautiful Troll Falls. In the past there have been trolls hidden along the trail for little ones to enjoy finding as they make their way to the falls. Learn more about the falls here.
*This hike has been done with a double thule chariot. While it was doable to puch the stroller down the narrower path at the end it was challenging and bumpy. There is the option of leaving the stroller the last 20 metres to the falls before heading down the narrow trail.
Easy- 3 km, 178 m elevation – 1 h 21 minutes from downtown Calgary
This interpretive hike out of Kananaskis takes you to another stunning 6 metre waterfall. The easy hike has been completed by some 2 year olds. Enjoy a rest on the bench at the top of the first hill. As you near the falls there are two bridges. This waterfall hike should be on every families list of trails to complete this summer. Learn more about the hike here. *
Note: The parking is across the road fromthe day use area (ruined in the flood). The actual trail starts 500m down the road but you can also take the trail leading up the hill from the parking area where it meets the trail at the lookout bench.*
*Trail information curtesy of Lindsay Wallis
Challenging- 4.2 km, 245 m elevation – 1 h 21 minutes from downtown Calgary
There are two ways up to Grassi Lakes, the easy way and the hard way. To view the falls you must go up the hard way. The waterfall falls alongside the trail. This trail is steep and caution needs to be taken since their are some cliffs. At the top enjoy the stunning turquoise Grassi Lakes before heading down the easy way. The easy route is a gravel access road with a gradual incline. Along this trail you will not see the waterfall. This trail has been done by many young children but I would consider it a more challenging hike for the preschool aged child.
Challenging – 4.2 km, 50 m elevation- 1 hr 10 minutes from downtown Calgary
Grotto Falls is another more challenging hike for little feet because of the longer distance and the amount of rocks that you will be stepping over. You’ll be rewarded for your hike with three small but beautiful waterfalls, two side by side and one to the right when facing the end of the canyon. The water coming down the falls varies from year to year, ranging from a drip to a steady stream.
After about a 1 km jaunt from the parking lot, this trail takes you up or alongside Grotto Creek with the endpoint at the falls. In a year like the picture below, the creek bed will be dry and you can hike directly up it with the canyon walls on either side of you. Keep a look out for the petroglyphs on the rock wall as you make your way through the canyon. Do not touch the 500-1000 year old petroglyphs as the oil from your hands will make them disapear faster.
Note: In a wetter year, you can follow a trail that runs alongside the canyon and still ends at the base of the falls. These falls are even more spectacular in the winter since as the water freezes they grow considerably. Pack some yak trax and hike along the creek. If your lucky you will see ice climbers heading up the falls.
Easy- 1.6 km return, 87 m elevation – 1 h 40 min downtown Calgary
This short hike starts at the Rockbound Lake Trail located next to the Rockbound Lake Trail Head parking lot. Follow Rockbound Lake Trail for about 300 m where you will reach a junction. Take the right trail and continue on for around 500 m until you reach the falls. Learn more about Silverton Falls here.
Easy – 1.2 km, 10 m – 1 h 33 minutes from downtown Calgary
From Bow river bridge to the Bow falls is a 1.2 km hike. If you want to skip the majority of the hike then head to the parking lot on Bow Falls drive. This is less of a hike and more of a view of the waterfalls. From the parking lot make your way to the water and the falls will be on your left. After checking out the falls hike to your right and enjoy throwing rocks in the water before leaving. These falls are very popular tourist attraction and are directly in Banff. Learn more about Bow Falls here.
Easy/Moderate- 1.6 km RT, 30 m elevation or 4.8 km RT, 120 m elevation – 1 h 45 minutes from downtown Calgary
Johnston Canyon is a very popular tourist attaction and is extremely busy. This unique hike is within a canyon and boasts two waterfalls! The first waterfall is easy to get to and only 1.6km return along a catwalk. The best part of the first waterfall is being able to view it through a small cave. If the little feet can handle the extra distance then continue on to the second waterfall that is considerably taller than the first. The hike to the second waterfall takes your through the trees away from the catwalk for an extra 120 m elevation. The second waterfall can be view from the base on a catwalk or by hiking a little further up and viewing it from the top. Learn more about the Johnston Canyon hike here.
Note: Johnston Canyon is another beautiful hike in the winter. Make sure to bring along yak trax to avoid slipping on the icy trail.
Easy – 1.3 km, 50 m – Stroller Friendly- 2 hr 25 min from downtown Calgary – Closed October 10th-Mid June
The easy hike to the thundering 380 metre tall Takkakaw waterfall will leave you breathless. The falls are visible as you begin your hike to the falls and once you arrive you have a full view of the waterfall since the trees are thin. Fun fact is that climbers will climb the tall falls and actually adventure through a 100 m cave to the top of the falls during a portion of the climb. The trail is paved which makes it stroller friendly for most strollers. Learn more about Takakka Falls here.
What are your favourite waterfall hikes to do around Calgary?
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