Before having kids, my husband and I were the epitome of an active couple. We hiked almost every weekend, we trained for a half marathon, we went for long walks and long bike rides. When we had twins a few years ago, we worried it was the end of our adventuring days. But that’s far from the truth! Sure, little kids may not have the endurance to go on 10k or 20k walks and hikes, but we realized that starting our littles on smaller adventures — like these trails for families — helps build both staminaand a love for the active lifestyle.
We now regularly take our kids with us on walks, hikes, and bike rides around the city (and outside the city when time permits!). It’s been exciting to see them hit milestones such as walking or hiking for 1 km and then 2 km and more. We still take our stroller with us a lot, but it’s being used less and less often. Below, I’ve put together a list of a few of our favourite loop trails for families.
Tips for Walking/Hiking with Kids:
Here are a few tips to help encourage your kids to walk more than ride in the stroller — without them complaining:
- Start small. If you haven’t tried to get your child to walk or hike much, keep your expectations low for your first several outings. Start with a walk around the block. When my girls were first getting steady on their feet, we did many walks around the block while they pushed their toy strollers. Gradually we expanded our route and now we go on longer adventures.
- Choose a trail that makes a loop. The adventure is more exciting when there’s something new to see all along the way. Out and back trails can be discouraging because you know exactly how far you have to go back when you turn around.
- Encourage exploration. I’ll point out birds, pinecones, signs, sticks, rocks, or anything that keeps them interested in seeing what’s next on our adventure. When they start complaining about being tired I’ll challenge them to race me to a specific landmark to make it fun for them!
- Dress appropriately. If it’s muddy or wet, wear rain boots and let the kids jump in the puddles. If it’s cold, make sure everyone has warm toques and mittens. If your child (and you!) are dressed appropriately, it’s once less thing you’ll hear them complain about. And comfortable, well-fitted shoes are important so no one ends up with blisters!
- Bring water and snacks. These loops below may seem short to you, but to a little one, they can be tiring. Most whining and complaining can be cured with a break for snacks and water.
- Mix in kid-friendly activities. Many of the walks, hikes, or runs we go on include a stop at a playground before, during, or after. If my girls know there’s a playground involved, they’re typically up for anything. We still push our girls in the stroller while we run for exercise and they do great knowing that at the end of mommy and daddy’s run, they’ll get to play on the playground.
- Don’t be in a rush. Let your child meander for a bit or sit down on the edge of the trail for a break. I was used to powering through walks, runs, and hikes, so letting go of time expectations and going the pace of my children has been a big learning curve!
Beaumaris Lake is a popular spot for many so it’s no surprise it made our list of trails for families to explore. The trail is fully paved so it’s perfect for strollers or bike riding. My girls love looking for geese, ducks, and other birds and wildlife. We often make this loop longer by veering off the main trail to cross 106 St to Beaumaris Park where there is a great playground. There are many access spots around the lake so you can start the loop at a variety of locations.
- Distance: 2.6 km
- Location: Northwest Edmonton
- Address: 11010 153 Ave NW, Edmonton (map)
Doug Kelly Park in The Grange
This is a great loop if you’re just starting out. You can actually make it even shorter by crossing the footbridge to cut off part of the trail. It’s fully paved so it’d be an excellent location test out little legs on bikes, too. My girls loved spotting all of the deer statues around the lake. There’s also a fun playground right at the start/finish of the loop.
- Distance: 1.55 km
- Location: Southwest Edmonton
- Address: 208 St NW and 57 Ave NW, Edmonton (map)
Heritage Wetlands Park
This is one of my favourite trails for families. It’s mostly gravel, but our jogging stroller does fine on it (as long as it’s not really muddy). On our most recent visit, there were a ton of wildlife photographers out as it’s a top spot to view birds. My girls love all of the footbridges and the small boardwalk. You can also take a very short detour at Foxboro Park to check out the playground.
- Distance: 2.48 km
- Location: Sherwood Park
- Address: Foxhaven Dr, Sherwood Park (map)
South Mill Creek Ravine Loop
This is just one of many loops you can choose throughout the Mill Creek Ravine trail system. I can’t pick a favourite part of Mill Creek Ravine because it’s all so fun to explore. The ravine has a mixture of gravel and paved trails but typically the gravel is packed down enough for a jogging stroller (as long as it isn’t muddy).
- Distance: 2.19 km
- Location: Southeast Edmonton
- Address: 34 Ave NW and 28 St NW, Edmonton (map)
Schonsee Preserve Loop
I’m almost hesitant to post about this loop because it feels like our own little secret. This gravel trail in Northeast Edmonton isn’t well identified on any maps. I stumbled upon it one night when looking at the map for a place to run. There’s a nice lookout at the North end of the lake and I’m looking forward to going here in the summer to see if there are any wildflowers blooming.
- Distance: 1.1 km
- Location: Northeast Edmonton
- Address: 170A Ave off of 71 St NW, Edmonton (map)