Your Weekend Planner: It's Spring in the Rockies (May 13-15)

by - Friday, May 13, 2016

Is there anything more beautiful than snowcapped peaks and blue sky? While we may have to hold off on mountain biking for a bit so the trails can dry out, we can still do some road riding or front range hikes with spectacular views. Sunlit trails in Bow Valley Provincial Park and the Canmore area should be in pretty good shape by Saturday. Expect snow in shaded areas and at elevation. Peter Lougheed and Lake Louise continue to hold a lot of snow, but Banff and Kananaskis Valley have several options and Spray Valley is opening up.

I've done my best to check conditions, but please check trail reports and advisories before heading out as things change from day to day. Here's to a fun weekend!


My bike ride of the week is Edworthy Park to Shouldice Park (#7 in 10 Fun Family Bike Rides in Calgary)! I would bike to Shouldice, have a picnic*, bike back to Edworthy and play at the river and/or hike the Douglas Fir Trail! If you need a treat, visit Angel's Cappuccino and Ice Cream at Edworthy Park. She has your kids' favorite ice cream flavors at very reasonable prices and lots of homemade goodies.
  • Picnic sites in Calgary Parks cannot be reserved until May long weekend (exception; some sites in Bowness Park are reservable year-round), so pack a picnic and enjoy a free picnic site!
  • For more picnic places, please see this post (#2).
  • For fun beach itineraries in and around Calgary, please see this post.
Douglas Fir Trail, Edworthy Park
Look for ducklings and goslings near the river (Bow River Pathway, Prince's Island Park, Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Eau Claire), but give them lots of space as it's their parents' job to protect their young. 

Breezy days call for kite flying at Nose Hill Park! Have you found the Medicine Wheel at Nose Hill Park yet? Might be worth checking out at the same time!


May 13-15 Day Out With Thomas at Heritage Park. Ride your favorite tank engine, meet Sir Topham Hatt, get your face painted and more! Tickets required.

May 14 Free Thule Tune-up Day at Bow Cycle. Get your Thule Chariot tuned up for free!

May 15, 2-4 pm More Rocky Mountain Fairy Tales at Mount Royal University Bella Concert Hall. Follow a young girl's journey through the mountains with her fairy friends. Set to jazz music played by some of Canada's best jazz musicians! Tickets required.

Heading to the Mountains? How to Avoid the Hwy 1 Construction

Avoid the big paving operation on the Trans Canada by taking Highway 1A to AB 133 X / Morley Road. You'll come out by Chief Chiniki Restaurant / Gas Station / Store, which is 13 kilometres east of the Highway 40 exit to Kananaskis.


There's nothing prettier than snowcapped peaks and blue sky! Hike, bike or take a gondola or boat to experience the mountains at their prettiest without the cold of winter.

Family-friendly Spring Hikes in Banff include: Tunnel Mountain, Johnson Lake, Johnston Canyon, Fenland Trail & Vermilion Lakes Dock (Mount Rundle viewpoint). Bow River/Hoodoos Trail is another nice one on Tunnel Mountain. Stewart Canyon and Sundance Canyon should be in good shape next weekend (they're kind of wet right now).

Tunnel Mountain, Banff
Vermilion Lakes Drive, Banff
For amazing views, take the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain then hike the 1 km long Sanson Peak Boardwalk. Warm up at the Banff Upper Hot Springs when you're done. During peak season, take the complimentary shuttle from downtown to the gondola/hot springs! (Leaves from Banff International Hotel and Evelyn's Coffee Bar every 15 minutes from 10am-6pm. Last shuttle leaves the gondola at 6:15 pm.)

Sulphur Mountain
The Banff Lake Cruise on Lake Minnewanka is also open now. Be sure to stop at Two Jack Lake on the way there or back - the view is amazing! 

Lake Louise

Many Lake Louise trails still have early season conditions - snowy, or wet and mucky - and there is considerable avalanche danger at elevation.

If you MUST go and want to experience fantastic views, I recommend taking the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola (opens May 13). Tea/lunch at the Whitehorn Bistro is a must! Unreal mountain views and delectable appetizers. Read more about our experience here. **The gondola is open rain or shine!**

Kicking Horse Viewpoint, 1.7 km from top of Lake Louise Gondola
Lake Agnes Trail (7 km, 400 m elevation gain from the Chateau) is finally open, but you'll have to wait until June 4th for tea at the teahouse. Please stay on trail to avoid trampling sensitive alpine vegetation. Dine at the Chateau or Deer Lodge after your hike. For more casual fare, try Laggan's Bakery or Timberwolf Pizza at Lake Louise Inn (both in the village).

Lake Agnes, Banff National Park

Bragg Creek

Fullerton Loop (7.1 km return, 200 m elevation gain) is a nice hike to do this time of year. It's not as muddy as Sulphur Springs and just the right distance for young hikers. It should have less snow than Prairie Mountain as it isn't as high, but Prairie is still a good option for this weekend.

Saturday, May 14 is your last chance to bike Elbow Falls to Forget-Me-Not Pond without cars! The winter gate on Highway 66 opens Sunday, May 15th. For a longer ride, start at Allen Bill, Station Flats, or Bragg Creek. Elbow Falls to Forget-Me-Not is a beautiful 18 km ride with a big hill in the middle, so it's best for bigger kids on bikes with gears.

Highway 66
West Bragg Creek received a lot of precipitation over the last two days, so Alberta Parks is asking that riders stay away until the weekend and avoid muddy sections. Please check trail conditions before heading out!


Bow Valley Provincial Park is always a great choice in spring due its lower elevation. The recent precipitation means trails may be wet and muddy, but most of the snow should melt by the weekend (except at higher elevations). 
Bow Valley Paved Bike Path
Canmore Area: Grassi Lakes (3.8 km) has slippery sections, so take the "easy" trail if you go. Be sure to use the "facilities" (outhouse) at the parking lot as the upper outhouses are temporarily out of commission. If planning on hiking Ha Ling Peak, check trail conditions before heading out as the trail can be sketchy above treeline if snow covered.

Ha Ling Peak Summit

Kananaskis Valley: Hike the Troll Falls and Hay Meadow loop (~3 km), then stop at Mount Lorette Ponds for a bbq/picnic! For sandy, splashy fun, stop at Barrier Lake Day Use. It's a short walk to sandy beaches! Note that the Kovach Pond area is temporarily closed due to carnivores feeding on a carcass.

Beach next to Hay Meadow, Kananaskis

Peter Lougheed and Spray Valley received 8-10 cm of snow on May 11/12, so trails are snow covered at elevation and many lower trails will be wet and muddy into the weekend. Be aware that Chester Lake is closed until June 29, Kananaskis Canyon Trail is closed due to construction, and Rawson Lake has deep snow.
  • Family-friendly choices for this weekend: Upper Lake Trail between North Interlakes and Palliser Rock Slide and Lower Lake InterpretiveWest Wind Pass (4.2 km) should be ok by Sunday if the snow has melted. Mount Black Prince Cirque (4.3 km) is another option, but expect snow near the top and some muddy sections. Planning to bike? The Peter Lougheed Bike Trail is in great shape - no snow or ice! Bike to Boulton Creek Trading Post for a popsicle or Interlakes Day Use.
Upper Kananaskis Lake
Have a wonderful weekend!! Give me a shout on Twitter or Facebook to let me know where you ended up and how it was (or leave a comment below)!

You May Also Like


Join the conversation!