Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hiking with Kids in Kananaskis: Fullerton Loop is a Good Early Season Hike in Kananaskis' Elbow Valley

Figuring out where to go hiking in the spring or fall can be a challenge, with or without kids. In the Calgary area, the Elbow Valley trails west of Bragg Creek on Highway 66 are usually a good bet. At the eastern edge of the Rockies/western edge of the foothills, these trails are often clear enough of snow to hike as early as April and as late as November.

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

Following the pathway along the Elbow River
Last April we checked out the Fullerton Loop with a group of parents and kids. Starting at the far east end of the parking area at Allen Bill Pond, we turned left and followed the north bank of the Elbow River under the highway. At the sign marking where the Fullerton Loop path leaves the Elbow River path, we turned left again on a well worn path until we reached the Y-intersection of the loop. Here we chose the less steep path to hiker's right and did the loop counterclockwise. From there, the 6.5 km trail is straightforward, winding up through the trees for 200 m before dropping back down.

A break from the trees
This isn't a trail I'd recommend in the summer
when you have much more interesting trails to choose from. Around the halfway point you start to get some nice views of the Elbow Valley, but it's mainly a nice stroll through the forest. Not exactly the "fun" hiking experience I look for when selecting a trail for kids. Luckily, we had enough kids that spontaneous adventure broke out shortly after the first "How much further?" was uttered. But if it's spring or fall and you want to get out to the mountains on an avalanche risk-free trail, Fullerton Loop is fine. If you go with a group of kids who can entertain each other, I'd even say it's great.

Distance: About 6.5 km return
Elevation gain: About 200 meters
Hiking/Exploring Time: 1.5 to 4 hours
Driving Directions: Heading south on Highway 22 from the Trans-Canada, go straight through the traffic circle. At Bragg Creek, turn left at the four-way stop. You'll come to a T-intersection. Turn right onto Highway 66. Follow this until you reach the Allen Bill Pond day use area on the left.

The view of the Elbow Valley


  1. We have to meet in person some time. Every picture I see of you looks different and I don't think I'd actually recognize you on the street, lol.

    Glad you like the Fullerton Loop - and that your kids do. I myself love the little trail and used to do it as a Chariot hike all the time when my son was young. Now, he hates this trail. We have really bad hikes every time we try it. Think we may wait another year or two before we try it again.

  2. One of these days a hike will work out. For some people, the camera adds ten pounds. For me, it adds someone else's face.

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  4. I agree this is a great spring hike and a good one to test kids' legs if you want them to go further without too much elevation gain!


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