Sunshine Meadows – Hiking with Toddlers

If you’re a reader of this site you know that Jamie and I are big time outdoors people. More than anything we love spending time outside and it wasn’t unusual for us to spend both days of the weekend , every weekend, in the mountains. Since we had two kids and I started an MBA our available mountain-time has been drastically reduced by course work, house work, yard work, and of course constrained by nap-time. However, every once in a while we still make it out, and as our kids get older and I get closer to finishing school I expect that the frequency of trips will continue to increase.

Over the beautiful 4-day weekend, with a lull in school and some wonderful weather we took the opportunity to get out to Banff National Park again and explored Sunshine Meadows. If you haven’t been there Sunshine Meadows is a beautiful location. It’s easily accessed via Sunshine Resort and (for a fee) you can ride a bus up the “ski out” from the base of Sunshine to the “Village” where the lifts are found. This cuts off 6 km of hiking and some substantial elevation gain. On Monday we pulled in to the nearly-empty Sunshine Village parking lot and pulled the kids out of the car.

It was a balmy 7C at the base and Jamie has smartly packed mitts and toques for the kids. The trails in the Meadows still had 70% snow coverage, however the trail to Rock Isle Lake was open and cleared. Logan, our 2.75 year-old son, is obsessed with cars, firetrucks, and school buses so for him the best part of the entire day was riding the “Mountain Bus” up the steep windy road. Riley, our 1.5 year-old daughter loved looking out the window and seeing the water running in the creek.

Once we arrived  at the top we got off the bus, put the kids coats on a started up the trail towards Rock Isle Lake. We traveled for maybe 100m before the kids needed snacks (c: This is our experience



It was a pleasure to be out in the mountains, even if we were about 2 weeks too early. The snow cover was still substantial, however there were wildflowers everywhere just poking their heads up and looking around.


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Unfortunately, this was as close as we would come to Rock Isle Lake. Riley had a full on melt-down and (despite all of the layers) was complaining that she was cold. We devised the “big green hug” and wrapped my jacket around the backpack to build another layer around her in hopes that it would help. The other constraint was the bus situation – buses back to the base ran at 12:30 and then not again until 2:30; and our kids typically conk out for nap around 1. If it had been a stellar warm day up there we would have pushed it, but with one kid already melting down and the other getting whiny we opted to turn around and head back to base.

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The “Big green hug” in action! On the way back to the Village Riley conked out in the backpack and stayed that way all through lunch. We had a nice play at the Village, ate some lunch and the took the Mountain Bus back down to the parking lot.
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All in all I would call it a successful (if abbreviated) day in the mountains.



  1. […] are concerned they get the same joy from the local ravine as they do from an early-season trip to Sunshine Meadows, or Kananaskis […]

  2. […] last year to Sunshine Meadows was a good example of that. We did a lot of prep for the trip: had our packs ready the night […]

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