Monday, 15 July 2013

Hiking with Kids in Banff: Consolation Lakes

One of my fondest memories of my childhood is going to Moraine Lake and climbing on the huge rubble pile at the end of the lake. Back then, it was just an untended rubble pile with no paths. You had to find your own way up, and that was half the fun. Now, an engineered path leads to a viewing platform at the top and if there aren't signs telling you not to climb on the rocks there might as well be.
Click here for more kids hikes in Banff, Kananaskis, Kootenay and other areas of the Canadian Rockies.

Luckily, there are other childhood joys still to be found at the lake that graced the Canadian $20 bill for years. One of these joys is the trail to Consolation Lakes, which starts at the Moraine Lake parking lot and winds around the base of the rubble heap before crossing the rubble field at the base of the Tower of Babel (scrambling to the top is on the to-do list for my kids this year; climbing helmet required) and disappearing into the trees. True, there's often group size restrictions in effect, requiring everyone to hike in minimum groups of four due to the bear activity in the area. And the 6 km return trail is hidden in the trees for most of its length,
obscuring the view of the valley your hiking through. But the reward at the end is all worth it.

Upon exiting the trees, the trail deposits you in boulder field with big grey rocks that kids--and you--can climb over, squeeze under and scramble around for hours. It's one of those treed trails that toddlers can manage (well maintained, minimal elevation gain) and that won't bore older kids before they reach the rocks. For adults that don't like to let their inner, rock climbing kid out, the two Consolation Lakes are set in an amazingly beautiful alpine valley. I'd comment on the lakes, but to be honest I was so busy
playing on the boulders that I don't remember much about the lakes.

Distance: About 6 km return
Roundtrip Time: 3 to 4 hours
Elevation gain: 60 m

Driving Directions: From Calgary, drive west on Highway 1 and take the exit for Lake Louise. Go straight through the four-way stop, drive up the hill and turn left onto Moraine Lake Road. Park in the Moraine Lake parking lot.

Click here to see a driving map.

1 comment:

  1. I remember this valley being painful but I think it's because I was on my out from Panorama Ridge and we had gone up the front side so it was a long day with much technical scrambling. By the time I got off the ridge I had no energy left for the boulders in Consolation Valley. It's nice to see your trip report from a kid's perspective. Might have to go back there with my son. He loves scrambling.


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