Your Weekend Planner for Calgary & Area: April 15-17, 2016

by - Thursday, April 14, 2016

Welcome to the 2nd Edition of Your Weekend Planner for April 15-17, 2016. With double-digit temperatures, the snow is melting quickly, and it isn't too early to think about camping! Whether you stay in town or go on a roadtrip, this planner will give you lots of ideas for outdoor fun.

Camping

Several Alberta Parks campgrounds open this weekend, and many are open all year! Check out my handy list of Alberta Parks Campground Opening Dates here, then enjoy early season camping! Campsites are available on a first come-first served basis unless otherwise indicated.

Dinosaur Provincial Park is open year round!

Hiking

Most lower elevation hikes are in good shape, but shaded areas may be muddy. Based on reader-contributed trip reports (Thank you!!) and Parks Trail Reports, here are my top picks for hikes to try now.

1. Bragg Creek

Try Prairie Mountain, Fullerton Loop, or Sulphur Springs. Fullerton and Sulphur Springs have rolling hills, while Prairie Mountain is heart thumping up, up, up all the way. Shorter options in the area include Alder Trail (1.6 km) and Elbow Falls interpretive (approx. 1 km). Choose your own adventure! ;) 

Prairie Mountain, Elbow Valley

2. Kananaskis / Canmore
  • Prairieview and Heart Creek are good hikes to try now. Prairieview is ice-free until the lookout, but some ice remains on the top section to Barrier Fire Lookout. 
  • Up for more of a challenge? Try Wasootch Ridge, Lady MacDonald, Heart Mountain, or Loder Peak. For first-time scrambling tips, see this post.
  • Closure of Note: Grassi Lakes is closed due to dangerous (icy) conditions. 
Heart Creek Interpretive Trail
(with Heart Mountain in the background)

3. Banff
  • Hoodoos Trail, Tunnel Mountain,and Fenland Loop  are your best options right now as the trails are ice-free with just a few muddy sections. 
  • Johnson Lake is another great, short hike, but expect the trail to be mucky in the trees.
  • Johnston Canyon is still icy, so be sure to wear microspikes or ice cleats. 

Johnson Lake, Banff National Park
Tunnel Mountain, Banff National Park

4. Lake Louise 

Although most Lake Louise trails are packed snow with icy sections, several trails are still doable with ice cleats. Your best options are Mirror Lake or Lake Louise Lakeshore (do not go on the lake as the ice is thin and weak now and do not go beyond the end of the lake as it is avalanche terrain). Significant avalanche danger exists just beyond popular trails, so avoid steep terrain and stay on trail. To learn more about the importance of avalanche skills training, please see this post.

The ice falls at the end of Lake Louise are well worth the walk!

Biking

There are so many great options for biking right now! Nose Hill Park, Eastlands and Bowmont Park have sweet single track with barely any mud. The Legacy Trail has been swept, Highways 66 & 40 are still gated (closed to cars, open to bikes and foot traffic!)... 
  1. Calgary Bike Ride of the Week: Migratory birds have returned, so Pearce Estate Park and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary are good places to watch them! Check out my writeup on Pearce Estate Park to Nellie Breen Park with options to go further (to River Walk/East Village, St. Patrick's Island, Eau Claire, the Calgary Zoo, or Inglewood Bird Sanctuary). The trails around Pearce Park are less busy than the Bow River Pathway and family-friendly! 
    River Passage Art Installation at Harvie Rapids
  2. Banff / Canmore: The Legacy Trail was swept on April 13th! Ride from Canmore to Banff, or ride from Cascade Ponds to Banff for a short, leisurely ride (less elevation gain!) with the kids.
    Legacy Trail, Banff
  3. Bragg Creek: I know I mentioned Highway 66 last week, but it was so amazing last Saturday I have to include it again. You can only ride the gated section (just past Elbow Falls to Little Elbow Campground) until end of day May 14, so go soon! The highlight was hanging out at Forget-Me-Not Pond without a single person in sight.
    Highway 66, Elbow Valley
  4. Kananaskis: There is a partial closure on the Bill Milne Trail between the golf course and Mt. Kidd Campground due to construction, so I wouldn't recommend the whole trail for families right now (as you'd have to ride on the side of Hwy 40 for 1 km), but Ribbon Creek to the Golf Course is a pretty ride that is flat and perfect for young cyclists. You could even do this section with a skateboard or scooter! Be sure to pop in to Moose Family Kitchen (in same building as Kananaskis Outfitters, beside the Delta Kananaskis Lodge) for ramen or a tasty Japanese beef bowl after! 
    Bill Milne Trail, Kananaskis

Crafts

Always wondered what to do with all the trail treasures your little ones collect? Why not incorporate them into a fun nature memory game. Rhythms of Play shows us how here.

A fairy garden is fun to make in spring too! Decorate a small bird house from the dollar store, or build your own! We scattered wildflower seeds and beans around it and are patiently waiting for them to grow. 

Events

April 1- May 31: Spring Alive Festival in Banff / Lake Louise 
Spring Alive celebrates "the ARTS, CULTURE + WELLNESS diversity that Banff and Lake Louise have to offer." 
http://www.banfflakelouise.com/SpringAlive

April 6-April 17: Canmore Uncorked. 
More information at tourismcanmore.com.

Friday, April 15, 12-1 pm: Free Bear Awareness Clinic at Mountain Equipment Co-op
830 10 Avenue SW Calgary
http://events.mec.ca/event/111376/bear-awareness-101-apr15

Saturday, April 16, 11 am-3 pm: Wildlife Week Giveaways at Bow Habitat Station
1440 17A St SE
http://bit.ly/CWF-WildlifeWeek

Saturday, April 16, 7 pm-11 pm: Star Night at Fish Creek Provincial Park 
Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre, 13931 Woodpath Road SW
http://www.albertaparks.ca/fish-creek/activities-events/events/fish-creek-star-night-spring-2016/ 

Sunday, April 17: Spring Trio 5/10/15 km Run, East Village
http://bethereraces.com/spring-trio-5-10-15-km/ 


For more ideas on what to do in Calgary this weekend, please see last week's Weekend Planner!

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