Kinder Bike and Hike in Kananaskis - Part 1

by - Monday, October 06, 2014

Fall has always been my favorite time of year to hike because the colors are spectacular, it finally isn't so darn hot, and there aren't any mosquitoes! When you have kids, however, fall becomes a tedious time of what seems like never ending colds. Once again, the kids woke up sniffly on Saturday morning, so we packed tentatively and decided we would do something short, and not too far if they could make it through brunch without coughing.

Hay Meadow in Fall
By noon, everyone looked in reasonably good shape, so we hit the road. Destination: Hay Meadow. To make things easier, we packed the kids' bikes. Although the loop we chose is only 3.4 km round trip, it is not much fun if you have to carry 40 pound kidlets. On a bike, that distance is a breeze, even for our three year old!

Toes in Sand Fun near the Kananaskis River, Hay Meadow
When we pulled in to the Stony Trail parking lot (from Hwy 40 southbound, turn right on Mount Allen Drive and then take your first right), the sun was shining and there were still some brightly colored leaves on the aspens so we were keen to stay in the warm sunshine rather than head into the trees. We proceeded up Stony Trail - an old, gravel road - then connected up with the Hay Meadow Trail (1.7 km from parking lot), and later lounged by the Kananaskis River. It's a scenic snack spot with panoramic mountain views, logs to sit on, lots of sand for the kids to play in, animal tracks to interpret, and water to throw rocks in. For such little effort, it doesn't get much better than this! The only thing missing is an outhouse, but there are washrooms in Kananaskis Village and outhouses at nearby Mount Lorette Ponds, if you don't like watering the trees. Our circuit (Stony Trail and Hay Meadow) was 3.4 km round trip with minimal elevation gain, so it was easy for our 3 year old on her balance bike and 5 year old on her  two-wheeler. (*Troll Falls is also an excellent trail for little bikers; just note that the last 50 metres are not suitable for biking. It is shaded in there, so it's great on a hot day. The little waterfall is pretty too, especially when frozen in winter.)

Driftwood makes a natural jungle gym
Off Bike Exploring
Since we still had a couple hours of daylight, we headed over to Mount Lorette Ponds. It was our first time there, and proved to be a hit with the kids. We gave them the choice of riding their bikes or walking, but as soon as they heard "boardwalk", they said they wanted to walk. Of course that means they ran; they always run on the boardwalk because how else can you make so much noise? It took us about 20 minutes to go around the closest pond including stops to take photos and eat. Thank goodness I always pack half the pantry! The wheelchair accessible trail is paved in sections and boardwalk in others, with low railings around the ponds for safety, and is excellent for young cyclists. There are numerous private picnic sites with fire pits, outhouses by the parking lot, and lots of fish in the ponds in the summer (the ponds are stocked with trout three times a year).

Mount Lorette Ponds
The water looks green when the sun shines on it because of all the neon green algae!
Late afternoon at Mount Lorette Ponds
Hay Meadow and Mount Lorette Ponds made for a pleasant and easy day in the mountains. I would consider Mount Lorette Ponds again for a rest/picnic stop on those days we are driving far down Highway 40 and need to break up the drive.

Mount Lorette Ponds
Where do your kids like to bike and hike in Kananaskis?

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