Kid Friendly Hikes Near Calgary: Grotto Canyon

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Grotto Canyon
Trail Length: 4.5 km return (2-3hrs)
Elevation Gain: 200m
Age Appropriate: 5+

We hiked Grotto Canyon as part of our weekend camping at Bow Valley Provincial Park. It’s just a few kilometres away on highway 1A. From Canmore, head east on Bow Valley Trail for about 10 kilometers. Look for the Grotto Pond Day Use Area sign. The pond is popular for trout fisherman, the trail head is back towards the highway on the west side of the parking lot.

What a great name for a trail to explore, Grotto Canyon. This dried up river bed on the north side of the Bow River is a rock climber’s paradise. The 4k hike is a little technical in that you do have to criss cross the meandering stream that is left in the canyon, and that can mean wet shoes (or a wet bum in our case) if your kids are not careful.

If you go all the way to the end, you’re rewarded with a easy cascading waterfall on your right, or you can turn to your left and head deeper into the back country. The canyon is enough of a reward on it’s own and if the kids get frustrated along the way, you can turn around at any point.

It’s a popular spot for rock climbing, and we ran into a number of belayers with climbers on the rocks above. The canyon is a popular trek in the winter, just remember to have crampons for your feet and poles for your hands, as it can get stumbly and slick.

There are Hopi pictographs along the cave walls, unfortunately we couldn’t find them on our hike.

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I discovered this hike in the book, Take a Hike With Your Children. It’s a list of kid friendly hikes near Calgary arranged by those near Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and Kananaskis. The hikes are mostly under 5k, they’re flat (or not too challenging) and usually end in a reward that is a lake, or meadow, or waterfall. It’s been a great resource for me as I planned my summer outings with the boys.

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