Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Hiking with Kids in Kananaskis: Cat Creek

The waterfall at Cat Creek
It's short. It's easy. It's a great hike for younger kids or as an early or late season hike for any kid.

The first time we hiked Cat Creek in Kananaskis, it was a last minute substitution for Ptarmigan Cirque, which was being rained on. I'd quickly scanned the Kananaskis Country website and there it was. Longview to the east was forecast to get rainy periods, so I figured it was worth a try. What we found at the end of the trail was a beautiful waterfall and lots of rocks for the kids to climb on.

Click here for more kids hikes in Banff, Kananaskis, Kootenay and other areas of the Canadian Rockies. 

The trail itself is a neglected interpretive trail that passes by old mining roads and never leaves the trees. Half an hour or so of hiking and a couple ups and downs takes you to a bridge across the creek. A couple minutes later and you're at the waterfall. Beware: kids scrambling up the rocks can send showers of scree down on unsuspecting hikers below.

One of the scrambling options at Cat Creek
As I said, the trail is easy. Much easier than most of the trails I take the boys on. The first time we went, Mack was 10 and not challenged at all. But Michael was five and found the hike to the waterfall challenging enough to engage him but so challenging he was discouraged. Likewise, the scrambling at the waterfall was too easy for Mack, but ideal for Michael. Last year we went back, Michael was seven and you could see that he's no longer satisfied with such easy trails. (Yes! All this hiking is working!) If you have kids under 8 that you're introducing to hiking, Cat Creek is a good choice year-round. Otherwise, save it for early or late in the season when longer and higher trails are covered in snow.

Distance: 4.5 km return
Elevation gain: Negligible
Hiking/Exploring Time: 2 to 4 hours
Directions:  Take Highway 22x west to Highway 22 and turn left. Follow Highway 22 through Turner Valley and Black Diamond and continue on it to Highway 541, just before Longview. Turn right. Follow that road to the junction of Highways 541, 40 and 940. Continue straight (Highway 541 turns into Highway 40) for about 6 km and turn left into the Cat Creek day use area. At the north end of the parking lot you'll find a trail that leads across the highway to the start of the interpretive trail.
Cat Creek waterfall
Click here for a driving map.

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