It might not officially be fall but the weather has been sitting around 7 C. The brisk air has been a nice change from the smoke but can still be a bit of a shock compared to the 30C sunny summer weather. The colder weather is also the beginning of the battle to convince littles to wear their jackets. But the changing colours of the leaves are not to be missed and fall hiking with littles can actually be really fun. Many locals prefer this time of year when they head out and go “larch hunting”. Here are some great fall hikes to do around Calgary with preschoolers/toddlers!
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Ok… before I continue I just have 3 tips to make your hike more enjoyable with your little ones in the colder weather…
1. Bring a toque, mitts, warm packable jacket and warm pants or full suit.
2. Keep the hike short
3. Bring Hot Chocolate
Fall Hikes to do around Calgary with Preschoolers/Toddlers
Note: Start with some of the easier hikes especially if the weather is colder. Sometimes little hikers that are strong in the summer find it more challenging to hike in the colder hiking temperatures. Also, make sure to check out the trail report to know the condition of the hike here. A few of these hikes are known for getting snow even in summer as well as on colder fall days.
Easy- 1.4 km 70 m elevation – *Stroller Friendly – 38 minutes from Downtown Calgary
Located just 38 minutes from downtown Calgary at Glenbow Ranch is the Tiger Lily Loop. From the parking lot head west. Take a right through the fence to head onto the trail or take a minor detour and head straight to enjoy the lookout of the valley. Once through the fence, the trail takes you down through the trees. Enjoy the changing colours of leaves before looping around and climbing up past the park office back to the parking lot. Learn more about Tiger Lily Loop here.
*A stroller could go on the path but would need a lift over top of the fence that is meant to keep out bikers.
Easy – 2 km, 0 elevation – Stroller friendly – 1 hr from downtown Calgary – Closed December 1st- May 14
Located in Bragg Creek at a Day use area is this beautiful short hike around Forget-Me-Not-Pond. This hike offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. When the sun shines on the pond in mid-day it turns a beautiful turquoise colour. New walkers can try to tackle this hike on their own two feet. All children will enjoy the many different spots where they can throw rocks into the water. We like going around the lake counter-clockwise so we cross the two bridges at the end of our hike! Learn more about Forget-Me-Not-Pond here.
Note: There are many benches and picnic benches along the trail around the pond to stop and rest.
Moderate- 4.2 km RT, 100 m elevation – 1 h 20 minutes from downtown Calgary
Close to Canmore and only 15 minutes East is Heart Creek Trail. The hike is relatively flat and rated moderate because of the longer distance for little feet. The first 500 metres is also challenging since that is where the majority of the elevation occurs. The hike is beautiful with mountain views and the many bridges are really fun for littles to cross. The destination is not necessarily the most exciting but you can hear a waterfall and throw rocks into the water. The good thing is that you don’t have to worry about missing anything if your little ones get tired and you need to turn around.
Learn more about Heart Creek here but note that although it says 2.8 km return, the actual distance from the Heart Creek parking lot is closer to 4.2 km return.
Easy – 1.5km, 0 elevation – 1 hour 21 minutes from downtown Calgary
A short flat interpretive trail that is perfect for early walkers and located in Kananaskis Country. The trail starts at the Eau Claire campground. The hike shows views of the surrounding mountains, takes you alongside the river and ends by looping back through the trees. This trail is fun to trail run with your little ones or to take slowly and enjoy throwing rocks into the water. Learn more about the Eau Claire hike here.
Easy to Difficult – Various Trails – Some trails stroller-friendly – 1 hour from downtown Calgary
The Canmore Nordic Centre is not just for winter skiing or summer biking. You can also hike there! There are various trails ranging from moderate to difficult. The Nordic Centre building is open year round which means you can head inside ask the staff for a hike that best suits your needs for the day. If you forget food you can always buy hot chocolate or lunch at their cafe! Learn more about the Nordic Centre here.
Difficult – 4.8 km, 350 m elevation – 1 hr 42 minutes from downtown Calgary – Open Year Round
West Wind Pass is a beautiful but challenging hike for toddlers/preschoolers. In such a short distance, the hike offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The trail starts off through the trees with the occasional view of the creek and valley. The hike ends in the pass where the trail opens up and you see the mountains on the other side. This hike has been done by strong4-year-oldd hikers but the elevation and distance is significant. Try some of the other hikes that I have posted before tackling this hike with your preschooler.
Note: The trail head is a bit challenging to find. From Canmore take the Smith Dorrian Road to Spray Lakes. After the Canmore Nordic centre turnoff set your odometer to 0. After 18.5 km the parking lot for the trail will be on your right. The trail starts on the other side of the parking lot. Learn more about the hike here.
Easy – 2km RT, 105 m elevation – 56 minutes from downtown Calgary
The Flowing Water Interpretive Trail begins at Willow Rock Campground in Bow Valley Provincial Park in Kananaskis. It is located just off of the Trans-Canada Highway. Enjoy views of the surrounding mountains and the Kananaskis River. This trail is close to Canmore which means quick access to amenities and a great place to go after the hike for some hot chocolate or tea. Learn more about the Flowing Water Interpretive Trail here.
Challenging- 4.3 km RT, 300 metres elevation OR 3.6 km RT, less elevation – 1 h 30 min from downtown Calgary
Tunnel Mountain hike is located in Banff. It offers stunning views of both Banff and Mount Rundle. The hike is challenging for little feet but manageable if they are stronger hikers. It is also a great way for your toddlers to hike their first peak before the snow makes it too challenging. I recommend bringing along a carrier just in case your little one gets tired and needs a break. It was so much fun 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.
Challenging- 4km RT, 280 m elevation- 1h 40 minutes from Calgary – Closed December 1-June 15
Ptarmigan Cirque is an absolutely stunning hike that starts at Highwood pass in Kananaskis. The trail is challenging for little feet but has beautiful Larch trees in the fall. Larch trees are members of the pine tree but whose pine needles actually change colour in the fall. Shortly after the starting the hike the trail climbs up for a steep 1 km of hiking 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. My 3-year-old completed the hike while my 2-year-old jumped in and out of the carrier. Read more about the hike here.
Note: The hike is not accessible between December 1st and June 15th since the road to the start of the hike is closed during that time.
Moderate – 1.5 km, 45 m elevation, 2 h 25 minutes from downtown Calgary
In the fall be prepared for snow especially when hiking to Peyto Lake. Park at the Peyto Lake parking lot on the Icefields parking lot. At the far end of the parking lot is the trail. The trail begins through the trees and soon you head up the 45 m of elevation to the viewpoint where you can see the Lake down below in the valley. The views are stunning and the lake is a vibrant turquoise colour. Learn more about Peyto Lake here.
Note: Peyto Lake is very busy in the summer months. There are very few amenities close by besides the outhouses in the winter months.