The Montane Interpretive Trail in Bow Valley Provincial park is a beautiful hike for little feet close to Calgary (55 minutes), Canmore (20 minutes) and Banff (30 minutes). The loop includes one small incline up to a view point with a bench before descending down into the trees. Our 4 year old completed the hike no problem and our 2 year old completed the majority of the hike. She was only picked up near the end so that we could keep up with the other two 4 year olds racing down the trail.
Note: As always bring bear spray and do not let your children go around a corner without being able to see them. Bow Valley Provincial park is known as cougar country and like any wild space it is important not to let the children out of your view.
Montane Interpretive Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta
Distance and Elevation: 1.8 km loop; 10 m
Facilities: Visitor Information Centre, Outhouse; Picnic Tables; Bench;
Hike Highlights: Mountain Views; Esker; Forest;
From Highway 1 take the Highway 1X exit. After the exit look for a sign to the Bow Valley Information Centre and turn left. The first right is the Visitor Information Centre and the Parking lot for the hike.
The start of Montane Trail no longer starts behind the Visitor Information Centre. The hike now starts on a trail behind the outhouse that is located on the far left side of the parking lot. There is a sign that says Montane Trail in front of the outhouse and the trail immediately passes to the right of a picnic table.
From the trail head hike past the picnic tables on the left. After 6 metres there will be junction. Go right and continue on the trail. The trail opens up into a meadow which is behind the Visitor Information Centre. After a short distance the trail heads back into the Douglas Fir trees. The hike continues and climbs for a short 10 m up to a look out with beautiful mountain views and a bench. This is a great place for a picnic but early walkers may try to head down the steep hill.
From the bench continue on the trail where you will immediately traverse an Esker. The Esker is a thinner trail with a steep hill on either side but still manageable for little feet. The trail is wide enough for hand holding if necessary. The trail then heads back into the trees. Shortly after the benches there is a junction of sorts but stay left. The trail then slowly loops back to the parking lot.
Check out other great hikes for preschoolers and toddlers here!