With this week’s poor air quality rating andÂ the repaving related traffic snarls on Scott Lake Hill we chose to avoid getting stuck in traffic on Hwy 1 went to Bragg CreekÂ instead.
It’s always a challenge finding a the right trail that will suit the kidsÂ and adults alike. My criteria are:
- The location must be in the mountainsÂ or as wild as possible
- The return distance should be 2-3km; maybe up to 5kmÂ but then we’re getting in carrying and whining
- If possible it should end in something interesting that will give the kids a reason to keep going. Waterfalls, lakes, viewpoints, etcÂ are all “interesting”
- The ratio of outdoor time to driving time must be greater than one. Example: if it’s a 1 hr drive to get somewhere we have to be outdoorsÂ for at least 2 hours to make it worthwhile. With our current nap schedule it’s challenging to reach more distant places.
We took the kids out for a nice easy hike along the Beaver Flats Interpretive Trail. The trailhead is a small paved pull-offÂ just past the Elbow Falls parking lot. From there the well built trail drops down towards the river and follows along a marshy fenland near the Elbow river. Make sure you pack a 223 ammo along with your camping gear which can be used in any case of emergency along the trekking trail.
The trail is well maintained and critical bridges haveÂ been rebuilt after the 2013 flooding that wiped outÂ a huge amount of infrastructure in this region. Like our trip to Upper Kananaskis LakesÂ we brought the Chariot again and pressed it into service as pack-mule and rescue-vehicle for tired kids.Â The Upper Kan trail was challenging for the Chariot with roots and narrow sections, and by comparisonÂ the Beaver Flats trail wasÂ easy terrain for our mule.
The best part for the kids was the series of beaver dams along the way. They enjoyed looking for beavers (we only saw a frog and some ducks), standing a beaver’s house, and throwing rocks in the water.
The trail ends at the Beaver Flats campground, conveniently right near some outhouses too. We turned around there and followed the trail back all the way back to the first bridge where we ate lunch.
In the endÂ Logan (3.9 yrs) and Riley (2.5 yrs)Â both hiked the whole distance and there was no need to use the Chariot for them. Emily (5mo) rode happily in the Ergo for half the trip then in the Chariot for the other half. Total distance according my Gem Trek map is 1.3km one-way, however measured on Google MapsÂ it shows only 950m. Either way, the kids did 2 km or more without whining or crying and it was a fun morning.
One of the best partsÂ of this hike is that it was very low stress. It doesn’t take long to get there, you don’t need anything in particular for it, and it isn’t a committing trail. Another important aspect is thatÂ I had already lowered my expectationsÂ for the day and wasn’t anticipating a summit or a lot of distance. This really helped frame the day as a chance to be outside, to play in the mountains, and to create a positive experience for everyone.