At Kids Who Explore, we always talk about choosing your own summit! I started writing this today after visiting my chiropractor and talking about the strain we put on our bodies – she shared a story about a mama that was doing intense hikes carrying her 4-year-old AND her 2-year-old on her body. Now, if that works for you, I’m celebrating you fully! What I’ve found with my adventures, is that my daughter was more than keen very early on to adventure on her own, and not on mama’s back! That doesn’t mean I never carry her, if she gets exhausted, or if there’s an area I need to keep her a little extra safe, but being pregnant with my second, I’m more than happy that she’s content to do some hiking on her own two little legs. What this often means is adventures may be what we, as adults, deem as “smaller,” even though they are grand to our little ones. I personally love seeing my child thrive in the outdoors and seeing her feel like she has accomplished something huge. I know that our adventures will continue to grow as my kiddos are ready for them to. I like to, as much as possible, go on adventures that end on a high note, where the kids are asking to go hiking again. And how do we accomplish that most often? With letting them lead the way. So, let me share some great Toddler-Paced or Toddler-Lead Hikes in Alberta![Feel free to take a look at my VERY Family-Friendly Hikes in Alberta – some of these may still be too long or two hilly for your toddler, depending on their hiking personality, and some you can choose how far to go and then turn back where ever you feel comfortable! Remember, you choose your own summit!
With Water Falls
Wedge Pond Loop is only 1 kilometre, so you can do the loop as many times as you want, and then enjoy some snacks by the water, or pack a paddle board or kayak to enjoy being on the water. The view payoff from this adventure is both instant and surreal. Plus, this area is great in all seasons, and even somewhat do-able with an all-terrain stroller.
Quarry Lake Loop
Quarry Lake, like Wedge Pond, is perfect in all seasons, do-able with all-terrain strollers and wagons, and just stunning! You’re looking at about 1 kilometre again, so you can make your adventure as long or short as you’d like.
Three Sisters Viewpoint
This one has an interesting starting point. You’ll park across from the dog park and then go down under the bridge to start. Once you’ve got through that little descent challenge for your toddler, you have a flat and rocky wide pathway to wander, until you arrive at water with a perfect view of the Three Sisters Mountains. The destination is a perfect stomping grounds for little feet!
If you start the Johnson Lake loop to your right (when initially arriving and looking at the lake), I would suggest turning around half way, as the one side of the loop has a steeper ledge and would be safer if you were carrying your little adventurer. Also, try find the deserted cabin along the way – bonus adventure! This whole adventure adds up to a bit over 3 kilometres.
Cascade Ponds is right off the highway, so a perfect pit stop in or out of Banff. It is also stroller-friendly, and has a great little set up for some day camping! Plus, our kids are fascinated by the gophers…what more could you ask for?
Forgetmenot Pond is another perfectly perfect toddler-friendly loop, with water to enjoy, and a great spot to have a picnic!
Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area
This conservatory is so beautiful and super close to Calgary, for all of you who want to get out in nature without a trek to the mountains. Parking is $10 (cash in envelope) or you can pay online ahead of time. You can also buy a yearly parking pass to support the conservatory. There are many trails to choose from – you can simply do the Mountain View that’s 1km, or take the Aspen Trail for just over a 5km loop. Most trails are relatively flat, and all have super clear trails, so you’ll know where to go. Always remember your bear spray, even this close to the city. Washrooms are available here, if they are open, and there are wonderful picnic tables at two different points to enjoy a snack break with the kids. This is a great spot in all seasons – we can’t ever get enough of it!
Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos
This is a pretty long endeavour, so for that reason, I wouldn’t classify it under toddler-lead, if you’re planning on doing the whole thing (nearly 8 kilometres). But, you really get payoff right from the very beginning of this adventure, so I would say, go, take it at your pace, and go as far as you want and then turn back!
Happy Exploring, Toddler-Paced!