I have loved a good walk in the woods for as long as I can remember. The sights, smells, and the peaceful feeling of being immersed in nature… it never grows old, never loses its appeal.
Hiking is one of my favourite things – on top of a healthy love of photography, crafting, creating, and doing anything where I can be outside. Moving back to the mountains has been something that I am very grateful for and we spend as much time there as possible.
I had Ptarmigan Cirque on my mental list of hikes since we moved to Southern Alberta. I saw photos of it, read about it, and knew that I had to see the incredible views for myself. The hike did not disappoint. The weather was amazing, the views were stunning, and everyone loved it. A complete all-around win.
We hike as a family and on this adventure, our youngest (who was 2 at the time), hiked a good portion of this one his own. The starting point is the Highwood Pass in Kananaskis and sitting at 2206 m (7238 ft), it is the highest paved pass in Canada. Keep in mind, this section of Highway 40 (from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to Highwood House Junction) is closed from December 1 to June 14. We parked at the Highwood Meadows Day Use area and we followed the Highwood Meadows Interpretive Trail before heading onto the Ptarmigan Cirque Interpretive Trail.
This hike didn’t take us long but the first kilometre was a little steep… though totally doable for mini adventurers walking at their own pace. Our youngest hiked most of the ascent and I carried him on my back in a Lillebaby soft-structured carrier (I prefer this style for hiking) for a portion of it. Once we were finished exploring and taking in the spectacular views of the cirque, he made the descent on his own. At 4.5 km return and with 210 m (700 ft) of elevation gain, this is definitely at the top of my list for family friendly hikes in Kananaskis.
This is the amazing view that you are greeted with once you reach the cirque:
When planning a hike, it’s always a great idea to check out the latest trail reports on the Alberta Parks website. The site is updated regularly with information about trail conditions, advisories, and more.
Have a favourite family-friendly hike in Kananaskis, Banff, or beyond? I’d love to hear about it! Are you interested in a family adventure photo session? Send me a message and we’ll get started planning something fun and memorable for your family!
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