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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Kootenay National Park | Hikes for Young Kids

Kootenay National Park is south on Hwy. 93, just west of Banff. We tend to visit this area when we go camping at Radium, BC. They have some amazing hikes as well; although I find not very many short ones. However, these have been some of the ones we have found and hiked with kids under 5 years old.

Marble Canyon

Marble Canyon is a 1.6 km. out and back hike with only 51 m. elevation and it probably only took about 30-40 minutes to hike. The trail follows along the top of the canyon and follows the river. It offers amazing views of the canyon and a few waterfalls; and very flat, except from the initial ascent from the parking lot. The kids also enjoyed climbing on a few of the big rocks they found too, as well as 'walking' their stuffed dogs. We also found this hike to be less busy than some of the other canyon hikes - like Johnston Canyon or Grotto Canyon; however, it was during the beginning opening stages of COVID during the week so that observation could be skewed.

(July 2020)

Paint Pots Hike

This hike is just a little way down the road from Marble Canyon – actually you can hike from one trail to the other. The hike is a 1.9 km out & back with 25 m elevation and would take about 45-55 minutes. As you start the hike you get to cross a big bridge, which ended up being an opportunity for us to have 'stick races' in the water. [You drop your sticks in from the top and then see which stick makes it to a specified point first.]

As you get to the end you see an area with paint pots. Paint pots are made of cold mineral springs that are surrounded by earth, which is primarily iron ore, so it creates the colors you see at the top.

(August 2019)

Juniper Trail & Sinclair Canyon

This trailhead starts just north of the town of Radium – right at the west entry of Kootenay National Park. It is a 6.1 km loop hike with 260 m. of elevation gain. The hike with young kids probably takes about 2-3 hours depending on your speed. However, there is the option to break it up into a shorter hike as well.

You can either start the trail from the Radium Hot Springs Parking Lot or the Parking area just inside the National Park gate. If you start from the Parking Lot just inside the gate, you start to descend down the trail through forested area that takes you to the edge of Sinclair Canyon and the rushing waters of Sinclair Creek. If you’re looking for the shorter option, then this is where you’d probably just want to turnaround and head back up to the parking lot.

However, if you want to continue on, you can cross the bridge to continue up. As you continue along the trail you start to ascend up and the environment gets a lot more arid. This is probably the toughest portion for younger kids, as there is some decent climbing because you’re coming from the very bottom of the canyon. I did have to give our 3.5 year old son a few piggy back rides. However, as you near the top you get some incredible views of the Columbia Valley.

As you start to descend down the backside you eventually reach sections with more grass and less trees for a meadow feel. This is where my kids caught their second wind and basically just ran down the mountain, until you reach the bottom where you get kicked out into the Radium Hot Springs Parking Lot. To get back to your vehicle you can follow the sidewalk along Hwy 93 through the tunnel – catching a ‘from above’ view of Sinclair Canyon Falls – and back to the parking lot. (The much preferred option to hiking the way you came from...ha ha!)

(July 2020)

Redstreak Campground to Radium Hot Springs

This is a 4.6 km out and back hike from Redstreak Campground to Radium Hot Springs and about 30 meters of elevation gain. Hiking guides say it takes about 2 hours to complete; however, we didn’t go the entire way so it took us a little less time.

We were camping in Redstreak, so we headed for a post dinner hike after being cooped up in the camper all day due to rain. The trailhead begins from the ‘H’ Loop of Redstreak and takes you on a journey in a cool, moist forested area. It definitely felt completely opposite of the Juniper Hike, which was more arid. Ironically, they are just located across the highway from each other. It was a pretty easygoing hike; however, there are some pretty steep drop offs from the trail in sections. We just made sure the kids walked on the opposite side, as my kids definitely have an interest in walking on edges. We didn’t go all the way to the Hot Springs, as it was closed to COVID-19; plus, it was looking like it was going to start to descend, which we weren’t really feeling the ascent back up that night. However, when the hot springs are open, sometimes campers will hike down to the hot springs and back from their campsite. Although if they would be doing it at night, you'd definitely need some good headlamps!

(July 2020)



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