Calgary, Banff & Vancouver: Basic hikes with a toddler in tow

I’m really trying to write regularly – holy man it’s hard! Time seems to be flying by. I cannot believe my daughter is nearly 16 months. I hate that I’m the type of person who is always shocked when it’s the first of the month. Being 30 years old I am already looking forward to retiring. Since that is a LONG ways away, I look forward to vacation, where time & dates don’t matter.

So now that I’ve shared how to GET somewhere with less stress when traveling with a toddler I hope to share some tips on specific places we’ve been.

I’ll start with our trip out to Western Canada this summer, more specifically – Calgary, Banff & Vancouver. AND before I forget – One Tiny Suitcase (http://onetinysuitcase.ca/ – based out of Calgary was AMAZING for renting a carseat & pack n’ play for our trip. Everything was in pristine condition and I didn’t have to worry about renting a carseat from a car rental agency (so many online horror stories).

I searched for ‘toddler-friendly’ Banff hikes and did not really get that much information. I was mainly looking for if any hikes were particularly stroller-friendly – here’s a hint – none really are. If you’re looking to do a 2 km stroll along Lake Louise then a stroller is perfect. If you’re looking for hikes that go into the 4 km+ range then you will want a baby backpack.

In Calgary – the Bowness Park has tons of paved trails that are great for families (and strollers). It’s absolutely gorgeous walking along the Bow River and the parks are nice and open. Bring a lunch and make a day out of it. If you have older children (or NO children) then canoeing & paddling down the Bow looked like a great way to spend the day. The food festival was on the day we were there so we were able to get a ton of tastes from different restaurants around Calgary!

IMG_2588Before you head over to Banff National Park, be sure to stop at M.E.C. in Calgary to get your hiking gear. We ended up purchasing the MEC Happy Trails Child Carrier ($139). If you have looked at child carriers already, you will know how pricey they can be. This worked fantastic and of course we loved the price.

IMG_3044

Now I would love to say we used this carrier for our first hike –Johnston Canyon & the Ink Pots – but I had read online that this path would be stroller friendly. The Johnston Canyon portion of the hike is 2.7 km to the upper falls (1.1 km to the lower falls – this portion is somewhat stroller friendly, but the paths are narrow). We ended up doing the trail up to the Ink Pots (another 3 km past the upper falls). There were loads of hills but the path was wider. We had our Baby Jogger Summit X3 and this stroller proved its worth as we trekked up to the ink pots. Even with it’s big tires and 4 adults to take turns with the stroller it was ROUGH. My legs definitely got a work out that day. So I highly recommend strapping your child on your back to get through the entire portion of this trail. Unless you are only doing the lower falls 1.1 km walk and do not want to invest in a carrier.

I almost had tears for the parents we saw at the Ink Pots with their umbrella stroller. I was surprised it was still in one piece. If you’re someone who plans on running or hiking or doing any off-roading with a stroller I can’t speak highly enough of our Baby Jogger Summit. It proved to be worth it’s weight in gold when we blindly took it onto the Ink Pots hike.

Lake Louise Hikes

On a previous visit here (BK) we had done the Six Plain Glacier Teahouse hike (5.5 km one way). This is definitely not for beginners and in my opinion I would not take my toddler there. However I know there are parents who have graduated to the level above ours in hiking with children, so it would be possible. It’s definitely NOT STROLLER FRIENDLY.

This summer we did the Lake Agnes Teahouse hike (3.5 km – one way) with the MEC child carrier. It is a tough climb but definitely doable. Especially if you have someone to trade off the backpack with. My husband and I switched about every 1.5 km. As with the Six Plain Glacier teahouse – it is NOT stroller friendly.

Both of the teahouse hikes are great because at the top there is (obviously) a teahouse where you can enjoy tea, soup and a select few other items. Cash only, since you are way up in the middle of nowhere.

If you are not a fan of hiking with a child strapped to you then just follow the path along Lake Louise. The views are stunning and the trail is flat and easy to walk. If you walk to the end of the Lake it is just under 2 km from the Chateau Lake Louise.

Another great hike with a backpack would be Tunnel Mountain (2.7 km return). The trailhead is located right in Banff so it’s easy to get to.

We also took the the gondola’s in Banff and enjoyed the scenery and views (with the MEC backpack).

Canmore – Fantastic downtown. Lots of little shops and things to see. Check out Rocky Mountain Soap Company for earth-friendly, paraben free, delicious smelling soaps, shampoos & creams. Grizzly Paw Brewing Company is a great place to eat with children – however they do NOT allow strollers inside. So I suggest leaving the stroller in the car if you plan on eating there. Otherwise you’ll have an anxiety attack thinking someone has walked away with your precious stroller while you’re eating inside.

Also, if you’re a hot yoga fanatic you must go to Canmore Hot Yoga for a class. Excellent owner/instructor. I can only dream my small northern ontario town will get something like this some day.

Vancouver

Vancouver is a big city and as such is pretty easy to get around with a baby. We were here in August for my half marathon. It is a little rough in some parts of town (what city isn’t?!) but there is a ton of things to do with kids.

The ferries that run along the coast and to Granville Island are fun just in and of themselves.

Granville Island – lots of neat things to see & do. I suggest getting a sandwich at Terra Breads. Delicious food, bread and baked goods (you must try the scones, and the foccacia breads). They also have a few other locations in the Vancouver area.

The aquarium is always a great place to bring kids (and adults!)

We did the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It was a neat place to visit but way too tourist-y for myself. Lots of people – suspended above the air –> not my cup of tea. We took the city bus to the bridge and from the Ferry Terminal you can walk to a little restaurant called Burgoo. If you’re extra lucky you will get there as happy hour is starting with $3/glass wines. The food is phenomenal and kid-friendly.

Stanley Park & the Seawall

Another amazing place for a chill afternoon and nice walk. My half-marathon took us around the Seawall so we didn’t spend much time there afterwards. Definitely completely stroller friendly.

I hope this helps any parents planning on bringing young kids to Calgary/Banff/Vancouver area. Happy Travels!

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