Keeping Kids Warm in Winter

Gear you need to keep kids warm!

15 Things to Do in Calgary This Winter

Winter fun in Calgary from skiing and tubing to ice falls and festivals!

14 Things to Do in Canmore This Winter

With canyon ice walks, world class cross country skiing, dogsledding, and more, Canmore is a winter adventure playground!

10 Things to Do in Banff This Winter

Ski, skate, hike, or snowshoe, then hit the hot springs and dine in town!

9 Things to Do in Lake Louise This Winter

The Ice Magic Festival is amazing, but there's so much more to do in Lake Louise!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tubing at Mount Norquay's Tube Town

Did you know Tube Town at Mount Norquay boasts the biggest vertical drop of any tube park in Alberta? The lanes are FAST, wide enough to ride with all your friends, and daredevils can request a spin before they shove off!  


With a speedy magic carpet and even faster ride down, you can ride again and again with minimal wait times. We were able to slide 4 times in half an hour on Sunday afternoon, and would've gone more, but it was closing time (go on Friday and Saturday for night tubing 'til Feb 25th)! We loved how the lanes start out super fast, before levelling off and going uphill, so you slow down naturally rather then crash into crash pads. 


Mount Norquay's Tube Town
There are 7 lanes altogether - with 2 slightly shorter lanes for first-time tubers. Each lane is a little different, so ask the lifties which one is fastest/slowest/best for groups. If you have a need for speed, go with a friend, or bunch of friends! More weight makes you go faster!! My daughter and I rode together holding each other's tubes and had a blast. Check out our video below!




Tube Park at Mount Norquay - view from the throne
Snow throne at the end of the tubing lane
Children must be 4 & up and over 1.1 m (42") tall to use the tube park, but there's a fun play area at the bottom of the magic carpet for little ones. My kids loved the mini tube ride, swing set, and snow mountain with a tunnel and slide. If you need to warm up or get a bite to eat, there's a deli & cafeteria in the North American Lodge adjacent to Tube Town. Lone Pine Pub in Cascade Lodge is also a short walk from Tube Town.

Kids' Play Area - Norquay Tube Town
Kids' Play Area - Norquay Tube Town
Kids' Play Area - Norquay Tube Town


Know Before You Go

Please check conditions (under runs/tube park information) before you go to see how many lanes are open! 

Regular Tube Town hours are 10:30 am - 4 pm, however, night tubing is available from 5 pm - 9 pm on Fridays & Saturdays from January 7 – February 25. Ski all day and tube at night!

No ski boots allowed in the tube park. Please change to snow boots for your comfort and safety.

Minimum height is 1.1 m (42").

Helmets recommended.


For More Information

For pricing and other tube park rules, please visit Mount Norquay Snow Tubing. You can purchase tubing tickets only or ski & tube tickets.

For a special treat, Experience Mount Norquay's Sightseeing Chair Lift and Cliffhouse Bistro. The chair lift requires its own ticket, but the fine dining at the top is reasonably priced and the view is amazing! 


Disclosure

Mount Norquay generously provided us with tubing tickets, but all words and opinions are my own.


>>Stay tuned to win a Family Ski Day at Mount Norquay!<<


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ski the Birkebiener - Viking Fun For Everyone!

Channel your inner Lagertha or Ragnar and get your loppet on! Translation: Join the epic Viking-themed Birkebiener cross country ski race! When you ski the Birkebiener, you are re-enacting the true story of winter 1206 in which baby Prince Haakon Haakonson of Norway was carried 55 km over two mountain passes to safety, by two Birkebiener warriors, during a civil war. You may ski the 55 km course with a 5.5 kg pack symbolic of the princeling, or without; and if 55 km is too long, there are shorter, less painful courses. There is even a 2.5 km "tour" perfect for kids where you can ski alongside costumed Birkebieners! Ski the legend and don't forget your Viking helmet! While Viking attire isn't mandatory, it sure adds to the fun.


What the Heck is a Birkebiener Anyways?

The original meaning of Birkebiener is "birch bark leggers." 800 years ago, Norweigan warriors wrapped and tied birch bark around their legs as gaiters and armor. In later times - when birch bark was replaced with other materials - Birkebiener came to mean "a person strong in adversity, never daunted by trial and hardships." (Source)


Event Details

The Canadian Birkiebiener - aka Canadian Birkie - takes place outside Edmonton, Alberta at Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, and Elk Island National Park. Plan to spend two nights in Edmonton so you can attend the Nordic Fair the day before the race and post-loppet Vikings Feast (feast tickets required).

When & Where

  • February 10, 11:45 am - 8 pm: Opening Ceremony, Nordic Fair and Registration Package Pick Up at Strathcona Community Centre. You MUST pick up your package on February 10!
  • February 11: Race Day & Vikings' Feast! There are different starting locations and times based on the distance you are skiing, so please review your registration information carefully! After your ski, enjoy a buffet dinner and live entertainment at the Vikings Feast (Note that admission to the Vikings Feast is NOT included in Birkebiener registration fee. Purchase a ticket in advance here).

For more information, please see Canadian Birkie Event Details.

Courses

No matter how long you've been skiing, there is a Birkebiener course for you! Recreational skiers and hard core athletes alike participate in the Birkie for the fun and personal challenge. My husband will be accompanying our kids on the Ole's Tour (2.5 km or 4 km) with costumed Birkebieners and I will be skiing Erika's Tour (31 km). We can't wait!

For your safety and enjoyment, there are drinks and snacks at the start and finish lines in addition to feeding/medical stations along the routes, spaced 8 to 10 km apart (finish line food by donation). It is recommended that you grab a drink and snack at each feeding station so you don't bonk. Mingling with your fellow skiers is a big part of the Birkie experience too! Make some new friends and support each other on the trail! Please be sure to thank the friendly volunteers - over 500 volunteers make the Birkie possible! See Canadian Birkie - What to Expect for more info.

The terrain is rolling with lots of little hills. The finish line is slightly higher than the start, so pace yourself; the last 5 kilometres are the hardest. Courses wind through aspen forest and around small ponds.



The Birkebiener terrain is a lot like this.
For details and maps of each course, please see The Canadian Birkie Ski Events. Brief descriptions of each course follow:
  • 2.5 or 4 km Ole's Tour presented by E Construction  - Fun, untimed ski that kids and parents can do together alongside costumed Birkebieners! Choose your distance on race day!
  • 13 km Global Mini Birkie - This loop course is perfect for young or new nordic skiers. Be a part of the fun without overdoing it. 
  • 29 km Bergan's of Norway Skate Ski - Skate on a course just for skate skiers! Note: this is the ONLY skate ski course at the Birkie.
  • 31 km Erika's Tour - More experienced skiers may challenge themselves with this longer course that shares a lot of the 55 km route.  
  • 55 km Spencer Environmental Birkie Lite - The ultimate challenge! Times are recorded by age categories. 
  • 55 km Torskeklubben Birkebeiner with pack - Carry the Birkie Baby to safety! Fortunately you don't have to go over any mountain passes.
Which one will you sign up for?

See you there!

Register

Register for the Canadian Birkebiener here. *Discounted pricing available until January 18!*
The Final Deadline for registering is Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

For More Information

Visit The Canadian Birkie WebsiteThe Canadian Birkie Blog, or download the Canadian Birkebiener brochure here for more information.

Disclosure

As an Alberta Parks Ambassador, my registration fee for the Birkebiener was waived, but all words and opinions are my own.

Where to Train For the Birkie

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Family Guide to the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise

The Ice Magic Festival is an annual international ice carving competition at Lake Louise with fun for all ages. Observe master ice artists and snow sculptors in action, skate around an ice castle with Mother Nature and Old Man Winter, learn to snowshoe, and enjoy the boundless recreational activities of the area.

When to Go

If you're a festival seeker... The official Ice Magic Festival dates are January 19-29, 2017 with several events taking place Thursday to Sunday each week (details below).
  • Tickets are required to view the ice sculptures and attend events in the ice carving competition area at the Lake Louise Lake Shore on Saturday, January 21/28 and Sunday, January 22/29 from 10 am - 5:30 pm. Purchase tickets for 1.5 hour time slots here. Ticket holders get VIP access to the shuttle buses.
  • Peak times are 11 am - 3 pm. Stay in Lake Louise if possible, so you can get an early start and miss the lineups.

  • It's free to view the ice sculptures on weekdays and Saturdays/Sundays before 10 am or after 5:30 pm. 

  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the least busy days, but there are no events on these days.
If you just wanna see the Ice Castle and ice sculptures... go now or in February to avoid the crowds! The ice castle is up from early January until mid March (weather dependent) each year. During the festival, it's free to view the ice sculptures from Monday-Friday, or January 21-22 & 28-29 before 10 am and after 5:30 pm.
Meghan Ward of Adventurous Parents says, "I've found the best time to go is in the evening when you can drive up to the lake yourself and view the completed sculptures... they light them up beautifully, it's really cool."
Skating around the Ice Castle at the Ice Magic Festival

Ice Magic Festival Events

Families will enjoy skating on Lake Louise, learning to snowshoe, sledding, and checking out the ice and snow sculptures. We have never purchased tickets as there are so many free events! Go on January 19 & 20 to watch the ice carving competition for free!

FREE EVENTS AT LAKE LOUISE LAKE SHORE
  • Ice Magic Sculpture Viewing is free on weekdays (January 19, 20, 23-27) and Saturdays and Sundays before 10 am and after 5:30 pm.
  • Snow Magic Sculpture Viewing is free on January 26 & 27 (all day)and January 28 & 29 before 10 am and after 5:30 pm.
  • Skate with Mother Nature and Old Man Winter on Lake Louise. Skate around an ice castle on one of the world's most beautiful outdoor skating rinks. Friday, January 27 & Saturday, January 28 from 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm. Bring your own skates and helmets or rent from Chateau Mountain Sports (at Chateau Lake Louise). 
  • Learn to Snowshoe. Learn how animals use snowshoes, then give it a try. Saturday and Sunday, January 21-22 and 28-29, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Parks Canada booth on the Lake Louise Lake Shore.
  • International Ice Carving Competition Days #1 and #2. Observe two teams as they transform 300 pound blocks of ice into art! Thursday, January 19 & Friday, January 20 from 8 am - 10 pm. 
Canoe With Three Warriors by Team Sakha, Russia

FREE EVENTS AT OTHER LOCATIONS
  • Ice Carving Demo at Deer Lodge (next door to Chateau Lake Louise): Each carver will have one hour to carve one block of ice into a one-of-a-kind sculpture. Vote for your favorite! Friday, January 20 from 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm.
  • Ice Carving Demo at Lake Louise Ski Resort (in front of the Lodge of the Ten Peaks). Two ice carvers will race the clock to carve a masterpiece in just one hour. Sunday, January 22 from 10 am - 11 am. More details here.
  • Snow Magic at Lake Louise Ski Resort. View giant snow sculptures from January 19-22.
Ice Castle at the 2016 Ice Magic Festival, Lake Louise
TICKETED EVENTS

Tickets are required for events in the ice carving competition area (Lake Louise Lakeshore) on January 21-22 & 28-29 from 10 am - 5:30 pm. See details here.
  • International Ice Carving Final Competition Day: Watch ice artists transform 300 pound blocks of ice into sculptures depicting this year's "True North" theme! Saturday, January 21 from 8 am - 2 pm. 
  • Ice carving demonstrations:  January 28 & 29, 10 am - 4 pm (note: carver will be on break from 12 pm - 1 pm)
  • Snow Magic (snow sculpting demonstrations): on January 21-22 and 28-29 from 10 am - 5:30 pm. 
  • Ice Magic Awards Ceremony: Vote for the People's Choice Ice Sculpture then attend the Awards Ceremony on January 21 at 4:30 pm.
OTHER EVENTS (not included in Ice Magic Tickets)
  • Guided Snowshoeing Trips: January 21 & 22, 11 am - 3 pm.  $64/person.
  • Brewster Sleigh Rides: For rates and information, contact Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Ride the sleigh to majestic ice falls!

Getting There

WEEKENDS - Plan to take the free shuttle bus

Early birds can park right at Lake Louise. I recommend staying in Lake Louise, or nearby Field, so you can get an early start. 

After 9:30 am, expect to park at Samson Mall, Lake Louise and take the free shuttle bus up to the lake. The shuttle bus leaves every 20 minutes starting at 10:30 am and the last bus to Samson Mall departs Lake Louise at 6 pm. Please note that pets are not allowed on the shuttle.

After 3 pm, you can often get parking at the lake, but be prepared to take the shuttle bus if the parking lot is still full (i.e. pack a backpack with everything you need for the day).

WEEKDAYS - Drive to the lake

Park at the lake on weekdays or ski up from Samson Mall!

SELF POWERED TRANSPORTATION

It's possible to hike, snowshoe, or cross country ski to Lake Louise from Samson Mall, but note that there's a fair bit of elevation gain to the lake!
  • Skiers can take Tramline Trail: 4.8 km one way with 195 metres elevation gain. For more information, see The Best Beginner Cross Country Ski Trails in Lake Louise. Uphill is not recommended for Chariot towing.
  • Snowshoers and hikers should take Louise Creek Trail: 2.8 km one way with 195 metres elevation gain. Please stay off ski tracks for everyone's safety. 
Cross country skiing Tramline Trail, Lake Louise

What to Bring

Warm clothes are a must! Bring skates and helmets as the skating at Lake Louise is magical!

If you're able to drive up to the lake, bring a sled and snowshoes or cross country skis! There's a great tobogganing hill beside the Chateau and several beautiful winter trails to explore.

Pack snacks or dine at Chateau Lake Louise.

Ice Sculpture at Ice Magic Festival, Lake Louise

Where to Stay

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Deer Lodge, Mountaineer Lodge, Baker Creek Chalets, Storm Mountain Lodge, and Castle Chalets provide free Ice Magic tickets with your stay. See details here.

Other options in Lake Louise include Lake Louise Inn, Lake Louise Hostel, and the Post Hotel.

Great Divide Lodge is an economical option 11 minutes away; the town of Field is only 20 minutes away and has several bed and breakfasts and condos to choose from; and Banff's hotels are 40 minutes away.

See my Where to Stay page for more information.

Snow much fun at Lake Louise!

Share your photos with hashtag #playoutsidegal so I can see how much you had at the Ice Magic Festival!

Activities in the Area

Skating on Lake Louise

Snowshoeing to Fairview Lookout, Lake Louise

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Aventura Jayla Vest Combines Style, Comfort, and Eco-Friendly Fabrics

If you volunteer, bike to work, and share your passions with your community and loved ones, you are living the Aventura life! Founded in 2006, Aventura designs "comfortable clothing with an active focus while being thoughtful to both people and the environment". Their eco-friendly fabrics are not only sustainable and grown without the use of chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, but high quality and attractive. I have been testing the Jayla Vest and love how soft, stylish, and well made it is! Knowing that Aventura works hard to reduce their impact on the environment through various green initiatives makes me feel good too.


Aventura Jayla Vest Review

The Jayla Vest has been on my wishlist for a while, so I was stoked to receive one! The quilted material provides a lot of warmth for its weight and the knit sides are soft and stretchy. The stretch makes for comfy, easy layering. The collar is also made of knit material that is soft to the touch, so I can zip it right up to the top without irritating my sensitive skin. In fact, I wore the vest 4 days straight because it was so comfortable and warm (I needed a second layer during that cold snap!).

Aventura Jayla Vest in Silver Sconce - so cute!
The vest fit true to size according to the Aventura size chart (shown below). My measurements are 34-26-36, so I ordered the vest in XS and found it to be very flattering with plenty of room for a sweater, big dinner... and dessert! 

Aventura Size Chart
To keep your vest looking its best, the Jayla must be handwashed or dry cleaned, but that's not a dealbreaker, right?

If you're looking for something pretty enough for the office, but comfy enough for every day wear, the Jayla Vest is a great choice!  Available in jewel tones and neutrals, which color will you choose? 

For More Information

Please visit Aventura.

Disclosure

Aventura generously provided me with a Jayla Vest to review, but all opinions are my own.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

15 Things to Do in Calgary This Winter

Winter is an amazing time to play outside in Calgary, but there are also fun indoor play spaces for the times you need a break from the cold. Here are 15 ideas for winter family fun in Calgary.


  1. Explore the Ice Falls and Caves of Fish Creek Provincial Park. The stunning 2-storey ice falls are a 5 minute walk from the parking lot! 
    Fish Creek Park Ice Falls
  2. Go Skating at Calgary's Best Outdoor Skating Rinks! Bowness Lagoon is our favorite place to skate in town (Lake Louise is our favorite mountain rink).
    Sunset skate at Confederation Park
  3. Try Tubing at Winsport's Acura Tube Park - Whoosh down a 200 metre long course in less than 30 seconds! 10 fun runs to choose from!
    Tubing at Winsport
  4. Go Sledding! Not sure where to go? See a list of City maintained toboggan hills here. Always wear a helmet and be aware of your surroundings! For more safe sledding tips, see Tobogganing for Idiots.

  5. Kick and glide at a local golf course! Confederation Park, Shaganappi, and Maple Ridge Golf Courses are groomed for cross country skiing in the winter and there is NO charge! While Shaganappi is the largest golf course with lots of flat terrain, and Maple Ridge is second biggest, Confederation is piloting snowmaking this winter (2017), so it should have the longest season. See Choosing Cross Country Skis for information on the various types of skis available and what to look for when outfitting your family with nordic skis.
    Cross country skiing at Confederation Park Golf Course.
    Adjacent Canmore Park is also groomed and trackset.
  6. Rediscover your favorite urban hikes in a new light. Snow adds a sparkling white blanket to the landscape and ice along the river makes funky ice sculptures. We really like exploring Nose Hill Park, Edworthy Park, Bowness Park, Waterfall Valley, and Fish Creek Park in winter. Nearby Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park and Big Hill Springs Provincial Park (has small ice falls!) are also fun year round. Bring ice cleats for traction, or snowshoes after a big dump of snow.
    Snowshoeing at Nose Hill Park
  7. Explore the Zoo! Winter is a wonderful time to visit the Calgary Zoo. There are no crowds during the day, and there are plenty of places to warm up: Visit the giraffes, hippos, and meerkats in the African Savannah; see how big the baby Gorilla is at the TransAlta Rainforest; watch otters play at Cequel Lodge; check out penguin feeding time at Penguin Plunge; then take a family photo in the Conservatory! Special events include Zoolights (until January 8) and Sunday Brunch.
    Zoolights at the Calgary Zoo
  8. Learn to Turn at Winsport's Canada Olympic Park (COP). We had COP season's passes for several years and got our money's worth going several times a week. By the age of 6, my oldest was skiing black runs at Nakiska (from frequent skiing and "mom and dad lessons")! With 4 carpets, 2 chair lifts and a terrain park, there is fun for all boarders and skiers! Lessons and rentals available.
    Night skiing at COP
  9. Discover cool landmarks around Calgary including art installations, a little waterfall, and Medicine Wheel. For more information, see Landmarks to Look for in Calgary Parks.
    "Bloom" Art Installation at St Patrick's Island Park
  10. Be a Ninja at InjaNation! With a trampoline park, obstacle courses, and climbing walls, no one will want to leave! See what we loved about this indoor adventure centre here.
    Glass climbing wall at InjaNation
  11. Feed thousands of fish at Bow Habitat Station, then go snowshoeing in Pearce Estate Park! We have had two birthday parties here and love exploring the Discovery Centre, but feeding the fish is our favorite. Snowshoe rentals are available onsite. For more info, see Fishy Fun at Bow Habitat Station.
    Fish Anatomy Exhibit at Bow Habitat Station
  12. Celebrate The Year of the Rooster! Head to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year Festival for lion and dragon dances, games, food, and more! January 28 - Dragon & Lions Dance 12 pm - 12:45 pm. See the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre for details (TBA). 

  13. Enjoy beautiful illuminated art sculptures at GLOW Winter Downtown Light Festival. February 17-20, 2017.

  14. Join WinterFest at Fort Calgary for free family fun on February 20, 2017. 

  15. Tempt your tummy at Calgary Maple Festival des SucresThis French Canadian themed winter festival at Fort Calgary has entertainment and traditional foods including maple taffy! March 4 & 5, 2017.
What are your favorite winter activities in Calgary?

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Find Your Inner Ninja at InjaNation

InjaNation is Calgary's newest indoor recreation centre where you can bounce, climb, and ninja your way to fitness. Whether you're looking for a unique birthday party venue, team building activity, girls' night out, unique date, or family fun, there is something for every person and and every age at InjaNation! I was sweating after a couple runs through the obstacle course, so trust me, it's not just for kids! 


Things to Do

The fun activities at InjaNation include trampolines, climbing, obstacle courses, and foam pits. There's also a Micro Ninja area for kids 2 & under. I'd recommend the trampoline park and foam pits to kids 2 & up during Mini Ninja Times. Climbing and obstacle courses (and trampolines and foam pits) for ages 4 & up!

CLIMBING

No experience is required for climbing as each wall has automatic belay. Be sure to put your harness on securely - staff can check to ensure it's on properly and show you how to attach the rope to your harness. 

Climb a glass wall across from your opponent, or climb side by side in a timed trial. There's also a rope climber and cool climbing challenge where you walk up elevated posts and jump off (see video below). It was scary but fun at the same time! 

Glass climbing wall
The Scariest Thing at InjaNation!

TRAMPOLINE PARK

Bounce your way across the main park, play a game of trampoline dodgeball, or do tricks on the private trampolines. For everyone's safety, do not do flips in the main trampoline park.

InjaNation Trampoline Park

FOAM PITS

There are two foam pits: one has a diving platform and one has a battle bar. Test how long it takes to knock your opponent off the bar!

Diving Into The Foam Pit
InjaNation Battle Bar

OBSTACLE COURSES

For an amazing workout and personal challenge, see how fast you can get through each obstacle course! There's a mini ninja course, ninja obstacle course, and military obstacle course.

InjaNation Obstacle Course

MICRO NINJA AREA

There's even a play area for the littlest ninjas!

Micro Ninja Area

Know Before You Go

  • Athletic shoes are required.
  • Jump socks (grippy socks) are required to go on the trampolines so you don't slip. You can get them at Walmart sometimes. If you don't have any, they are $3/pair at the front desk.
  • Wear comfortable clothes - like what you'd work out in - as you will work up a sweat! 
  • Stow your jacket in a cubby and leave keys/wallet/cell phone with someone in your party, especially when you go in the foam pit - it would be really tough to find small items in there! 
  • If you plan on staying more than an hour, and will be spending most of your time climbing or on the obstacle courses, you may wish to wear fingerless cycling gloves to protect your hands.
  • There is definitely plenty for preschoolers to do, but for the best experience, go during Mini Ninja times (for 2-5 year olds) on weekday mornings when big kids are at school (it's cheaper too!). See the InjaNation Calendar here.

For More Information

Visit InjaNation

Disclosure

InjaNation provided us with free admission to check out and review their facility, but all words and opinions are my own. 


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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Where to Snowshoe Near Calgary

You can snowshoe anywhere there is snow, but the best trails have lots of puffy snow and beautiful scenery. If the snow is packed down, go off trail! Not only will you get more of a workout, you'll have way more fun log hopping and jumping in the snow.


Kananaskis

There are 17 official snowshoe trails in Kananaskis. Snow seekers should make their way to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The Chester Lake area receives a TON of snow each winter! 

Here are our top picks for snowshoeing with the family:
  1. Hogarth Lakes Loop is a family-friendly snowshoe trail that is only 3.9 km return with 30 m elevation gain.
  2. Elkwood Loop Trail is pretty and not too long! Start at Elkwood Amphitheatre Parking Lot. 3.4 km, 23 m elevation gain. For a longer trip, snowshoe around Marl Lake. There are great views of Mount Indefatigable across the lake!
  3. Black Prince Cirque is a fun and pretty trail with lots of snow to play in. Do not go past Warspite Lake as there is avalanche danger across the lake. Watch for skiers as this is a popular ski trail.
  4. Wintour Trail is actually Highway 40 past the winter gate. It may seem odd to snowshoe on the road, but the vistas are pretty amazing! Park near the winter gate and snowshoe south. 5 km return, 74 m elevation gain. *THERE IS AVALANCHE DANGER 2.5 KM PAST THE WINTER GATE. TURN BACK AFTER 2.5 KM.*
  5. Rawson Lake takes you along the shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake to Sarrail Falls, then up switchbacks through subalpine forest to Rawson Lake. Do not cross the lake as the awesome peaks overlooking the lake pose serious avalanche danger. 7.8 km return, 320 m elevation gain.
  6. Chester Lake is a good climb with awesome payoff at the end. Although you hike up through the trees, the meadows near the lake are expansive and just beyond the lake, snow covered boulders (the Elephant Rocks) make for fun climbing and cool photos. For more information, please see Year Round Fun at Chester Lake. 7.2 km return, 287 m elevation gain.
Mention: Troll Falls is a great family hike year round. Bring ice cleats as the trail gets packed and icy (not suitable for snowshoeing unless Kananaskis Village has received a huge dump of snow). 3.1 km return, minimal elevation gain.

For more information, please see the Alberta Parks - Kananaskis Snowshoeing Brochure.

Approaching Chester Lake
Troll Falls

AMENITIES

Stop at the Peter Lougheed Visitor Centre before or after your snowshoe outing. There are cool exhibits, washrooms, and a microwave and kettle available for public use. The views off the back deck are gorgeous too!

Afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge is a fantastic apres-snowshoe treat! Daily 2 pm - 5 pm. $17.50/person. 

West Bragg Creek

  1. Snowy Owl Trail is great on a calm day as it's quite open and gets lots of sun. It parallels the Mountain Road ski trail and is quite flat for the first couple kilometres. Download the West Bragg Creek Trail Map here.
    • Option 1: Make the blue bridge your destination (1.3 km) and turn back for a 2.6 km snowshoe. 
    • Option 2: Do a 5.4 km loop by continuing on Snowy Owl 1.8 km past the bridge and returning on Snowy Shortcut, a 1.0 km connector that rejoins Snowy Owl. There is some elevation gain on the section between the bridge and the connector trail.
  2. Snowshoe Hare Loop is a rolling trail that is 5.4 km long with 173 m elevation gain when you're ready for more of a challenge. For more information, see BCKOR's trip description. Download the West Bragg Creek Trail Map here.
AMENITIES

Stop in at the Powderhorn Saloon for lunch or get a sweet treat at Frontier Candy & Ice Cream! Several more tasty options in the hamlet of Bragg Creek.

Mountain Road, West Bragg Creek (snowshoe trail is to the right)

Banff National Park (Banff & Lake Louise)

Winter offers the opportunity to snowshoe across frozen lakes. The safest times to do this are mid-December until the end of February, but weather conditions are always changing, so check ice thickness before venturing on to the ice. For ice safety tips, please see this post.
  1. Johnson Lake offers fantastic views of Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain. You can take the flat and pretty trail around the lake (2.8 km), or snowshoe right on the lake once it's frozen. Chariot friendly. 
  2. Lake Minnewanka's shoreline is gorgeous year round! If the ice is thick enough, you can snowshoe on the lake, but use extreme caution and stay close to shore. You can snowshoe to the first campground (LM8 at 7.6 km), but Stewart Canyon is a nice destination with kids. It's only 800 metres to the bridge, or 6.5 km return to the river gorge (minimal elevation gain). For more information, see Hiking With Barry - Stewart Canyon.
  3. Tunnel Mountain Drive gives you great views of Cascade Mountain. 1.7 km one way. Start at Tunnel Mountain Drive and St Julien Way in the town of Banff. The upper part of the road is closed to cars in the winter! For a longer trip, hike to the summit of Tunnel Mountain! If the trail is packed down, snowshoes or ice cleats will provide great traction (needed most on the descent).
  4. Snowshoe across Lake Louise or take the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail (4 km return). Both are Chariot friendly. For more information, see Snowshoe, Ski, Skate, and Walk on World Famous Lake Louise.
  5. Fairview Lookout is a steep, but fun trail that leads to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Louise and the Chateau. 2 km return, 100 m elevation gain. For more information, see Snowshoeing to Fairview Lookout.
  6. Lake Agnes Trail to Mirror Lake is a good climb through the trees that offers glimpses down at Lake Louise and a view of the Beehive from Mirror Lake. Do not go past Mirror Lake as it is avalanche terrain! 6  km return from Chateau Lake Louise, 300 m elevation gain. Follow the signs on the right side of the lake (opposite the boathouse).
  7. Peyto Lake Viewpoint. While not as spectacular as in summer when you can see the brilliant blue lake, the view is still pretty grand and the trail is easy. 1.5 km return, 25 m elevation gain.
For more information on these and other trails, please see Parks Canada - Winter Trails in the Banff Area and Parks Canada - Winter Trails in the Lake Louise Area.

Johnson Lake, Banff
Lake Louise
Fairview Lookout Trail, Lake Louise

AMENITIES - BANFF

There are tons of dining options in Banff. For inexpensive take out, head to the Food Court at Cascade Mall (they have a Rocky Mountain Flatbread), McDonald's, or Chaya (Japanese food). 

We really like The Bison for lunch, Maple Leaf Grill for a fancy dinner, and Old Spaghetti Factory for a casual dinner.

AMENITIES - LAKE LOUISE

The Visitor Centre, located in the Village, has several exhibits and washrooms.

Chateau Lake Louise has several dining options from casual to fine dining. We've enjoyed cocoa and lunch at the cafe, fondue at Walliser Stube Fondue place, and Afternoon Tea at the Chateau. 

For an unforgettable dinner, head to Deer Lodge (fine dining). 

In the Village, we like Laggan's Bakery and Timberwolf Pizza & Pasta Cafe (at Lake Louise Inn).


Disclosure: I am an Alberta Parks Ambassador, but all words and opinions are my own. I did not receive compensation to recommend snowshoeing trails in the parks.

Happy Trails! Tag your Instagram and Facebook photos with #playoutsidegal so I can see where you 
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