Summer weekends are ideal for family hikes. Close to Calgary, there’s quite a few hikes in the Kananaskis region in addition to Banff National Park to choose from. Our family prefers trails that are easily accessible and not too difficult for our pint-sized hiking hater. Consolation Lakes, near Lake Louise meets all our requirements.
Consolation Lakes is a relatively easy hike in Banff National Park, and is most often done from March until November when the trail is dry. You’ll gain about a little over 200 ft (65 m) in elevation gain.
The trail is 3 km one way – just under 2 miles and can be completed (one way) in less than an hour. It’s only 3km from the Moraine Lake parking lot to Consolation Lake, making it an ideal hike for young children.
Read on in you’re interested in deets on one of the best hikes near Lake Louise for families (and pets!).
Banff hiking trails
As far as Banff hiking trails go, this one of the best for families, which is why, a few Saturdays ago, we packed a picnic and whizzed over for a quick day hike. As you start your hike to Consolation Lake, you’ll begin by taking in the view above of the Valley of Ten Peaks.
Unlike the majority of Banff hiking trails, hikers need to travel in groups of four or risk being fined. There’s apparently a fair amount of wildlife in this particular region of Banff National Park, so Parks Canada wants to keep you safe, hence the requirement to travel in groups. Dogs on a leash are OK though.
Consolation Lake Hike
Because the Consolation Lake hike is along a well known wildlife (read: bear) corridor, Parks Canada has thinned out the forest purposely along the trail. This is so hikers can more easily spot bears and other wildlife approaching.
We felt totally safe though. Still, wildlife can come into your space at any time (it is there home, after all). For that reason you always want to carry bear spray with you when you’re hiking anywhere in the national and provincial parks near the mountains in Alberta.
Consolation Lakes Trail
Compared to other Banff hikes, the elevation gain along the Consolation Lakes trail is minimal. This is what makes it so ideal for families with young children, as the whining and requests for snacks (admittedly usually from me) are kept to a minimum.
Along the trail, you’ll spot wildflowers and rushing water. As tempting as it is to traipse down the velvety moss banks and dip your hand in the rushing stream, Parks prefers everyone to stick to the trail no matter which hikes in the region you’re doing.
Along the way you’ll spot plenty of wildflowers – especially if you’re hiking in July. But as the weather in Alberta is, well, unpredictable, we oftentimes have earlier and later starts to our wildflower season.
Pink Indian paintbrushes or or prairie-fire as they’re sometimes know as, are only found at high altitudes. But because you’re in a National Park, it’s illegal to pick them.
The trail is wide enough to walk side by side, and I suppose you could take a robust stroller through here. I wouldn’t recommend it though. Just look at those roots!
If you’re hiking at a moderate pace, you’ll reach Consolation Lake in less than an hour. There are very few hikes that give you such a lovely reward with minimal effort. Besides the lakes, you’ll also be afforded views of Quadra Glacier – half way up the mountaintop.
As you can see, my daughter takes a minute once arriving to enjoy the view. Consolation Lakes is the perfect spot for a picnic. But because of the potential for wildlife visitors, I would be setting up a portable BBQ.
And kids love playing hide and seek amid all these boulders. Bring your fishing rod and see if you catch anything. Just make sure you get your fishing license first!
A rocky outcrop of boulders is ideal for kids to scramble over, find caves and sit upon to look for fish (we saw three). Hopefully next time we’ll spot more fish, and we will be back. This is such an easy hike for families, everyone wins!
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