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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Canadian Badlands | Kid-Friendly Hikes for Young Kids

When it comes to hiking, often times Southern Alberta gets characterized by the majestic Rocky Mountains, but there is such diversity in the Alberta landscape. The Canadian Badlands are one of these unique landscapes and is a relatively short drive from several Albertan metropolitan areas. In addition, if you have kids who LOVE dinosaurs, checking out this area is definitely a must, as this is the area where the dinosaurs used to roam. It also boasts of the largest deposit of dinosaur bones in the world.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

This provincial park is located east of Calgary (219 km/2 hr. 15 min. drive) and 48 km north of Brooks, AB and is near Newell. The park is very family friendly and there are campsites available for overnight stays as well. They host a trail system that all branch off a loop that goes around the Park. There are 5 different trails, and all of the trails are under 1.4 km. We went out for a day trip, so we only had time to hike two of them, but it would be a great place to spend a really full day or a couple of days while camping.

Coulee Viewpoint

The Coulee Viewpoint hike is a 1 km Loop that goes through such unique rock surfaces with carved rills, pipes and tunnels. It also offers a spectacular viewpoint from the ridge; although we did have to be quite cautious of the kids on the ridge. The kids absolutely loved exploring the trail. There were all kinds of nooks and crannies to explore, little caves to go in and they chipped at some of the rock on the surfaces, which would easily crumble away.

Trail of the Fossil Hunters

This trial is a 1.4 km. out & back trail that leads to a 1913 quarry site. There was lots of signage along the trail that tells the stories of these early fossil hunters and some of the discoveries they made.

(May 2020)

Horsethief Canyon - Drumheller

Although Drumheller is world renown for dinosaurs, especially with the Royal Tyrell Museum, it is NOT part of Dinosaur Provincial Park. Instead Drumheller is 1 hr. 40 mins. Northeast of Calgary and 1 hr. 40 mins Northwest of Dinosaur Provincial Park. While there are a ton of fun dinosaur related things to do in Drumheller, there are some great landscapes and hikes as well. One of these is Horsethief Canyon, which is 16 km Northwest of Drumheller.

Horsethief Canyon can be whatever you make of it - the trail can either be a super short viewpoint trail, or there is the opportunity go down into the canyon and explore the floor. We journeyed down to the canyon floor and it was one of our more unique hikes, as there was lots of footwork and scrambling that we needed to do. However, it was a fun hike to explore the little mostly dried creek and discover the unique landscape; we even came across some small cacti as the climate is very arid in this part of Alberta. However, I probably would recommend making sure your kids are old enough to walk on their own, as I think it might be a little more difficult to do with a carrier on your back (weight being off balance and all). We did it fairly easily with an almost 4 year old and 6 year old. However, we did have to help with some boosts on the steep parts.

(Sept. 2020)

Badlands Interpretative Trail

This trail is located right outside the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller. This trail system also allows you to explore and go as far or as short as you'd like. We actually rode our bikes through a portion of it, as the pathways are paved and easy to navigate. The trail eventually meets up with the river pathway system that runs through Drumheller as well. We continued down to the river and it was amazing how quickly the landscape changed!

(Sept. 2020)



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