By Joanne Cook
September 5th, 2011

My husband and I agreed, the only agenda we had for the Labour Day weekend, was to spend time together.  We had a great summer, filled with lots of activity and visiting with friends and trips with family. But now it was time to hang out, uninterrupted, as a family.

Because of that notion, we stumbled on a great, new discovery.
That discovery is Big Hill Springs Provincial Park.

I loved it there!

It was the perfect place to hike, especially if your companions are of the ankle-biter variety. It’s like this place was made for 4 year-olds! There were shallow streams you could easily cross.

There were fallen trees and branches acting as bridges and gateways to the other side. There were waterfalls and muddy pathways and a huge rock you could climb on or hunker under. It was the type of place a kid’s imagination could run wild.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park

The main trail itself was gentle and easy to walk. If you are feeling more adventurous, there are different ways you can wind and scrambled your way to solid ground.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park

We decided to be adventurous. My 4-year old had no problem traversing the roots and rocks and slippery ground. And at no point, do you ever feel lost. You are never far from home base.

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park

We packed a lunch and when we were done hiking, we claimed a spot by the stream and had our picnic. The sun was shining, we were surrounded by water and trees and gently rolling foothills. The kids were happy. The parents were happy. It was the perfect way to spend our afternoon.
Close to home

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park

The park itself is off the 1A (Crowchild Trail west), the turn-off just past Bearspaw. From there, it’s only 16 kms to the park! To be out of the city and smack dab in the middle of this nature retreat in about half an hour… fantastic! We rounded out the afternoon with a little stop in Cochrane at MacKay’s ice cream (come on… we were so close, how could one not stop?). We were still home well before dinner, in plenty of time to, well, actually figure out what to have for dinner. (We made individual pizzas, complete with homemade dough – FYI).

My point is, this place has everything we are looking for when we want to escape the city. It’s close enough to home that you don’t feel like you are spending more time driving than actually doing. The park itself is just lovely. I kept saying to my husband “it’s just so pretty here – who knew?” And I really think it’s a perfect spot to explore the great outdoors, if you have younger children.

Check it out and let me know what you think?
Just don’t spread the word too much. I’d like to keep this place as my own little secret.