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Top 5 family friendly hikes in the Columbia Valley, Canada

There are so many wonderful hikes to be done yet so many of them require a good fitness level, hiking experience and the ability to cover distances that can be challenging for the young, injured and elderly. Ultimately, fewer older and younger individuals feel that they cannot approach hiking as a recreation and end up not doing it at all. In reality there are many great hikes that cover shorter distances and lead to great vistas, making them good choices for inclusive family hiking. Here are our top 5 family friendly hikes in the Columbia Valley, Canada. The Old Coach Trail – Deja Vu This should be the immediate `go to` for toddlers, young children or those that have distance as a limiting factor for hiking. Relatively flat throughout and just 1km each way, this trail winds you through beautiful arid pathways with the Rocky Mountains at your back and The Purcell Mountain range in-front. As you reach the apex of the loop you find yourself standing at the top of a gentle viewpoint that opens up to showcase the wetlands, bench lands, Columbia River and Purcell Mountains, with their dramatic and rugged appearance. In the spring and the fall you can enjoy the progression of colour from the inky blue wetland waters to the crisp snowy peaks above, while summer time offers every hue of green from the glacial mineral waters of the Columbia river to the vast array of shrubs and forests all around. This view point is the perfect place for a picnic and a rest before circling back to the parking lot. 2. The Hoodoos This is a great choice for younger children breaking into the hiking scene and learning about elevation gains and the rewards that they so often reap. An overall short hike – just 1 hour return and a small elevation gain – this repays your efforts during the climb with several impressive look outs on top of the Hoodoo rock formations at the top. Looking directly across to Fairmont Hot Springs, south to the Columbia Lake, west to the Purcells, and North to Lake Windermere – there are opportunities to gain 360 degree views of your surroundings. Do be sure to keep children close by at the top as the Hoodoos themselves are notorious for crumbling, and the edges themselves are steep. The access with the parking lot being 5 minutes from Fairmont Hot Springs. 3. Lilian Lake This has gained popularity in recent years for good reason. Predominately flat with some ups and downs this network of trails gives you lots of walking options from 1kms loops to much longer. The more impressive ones follow the cliff edge overlooking Toby Creek, with Mount Nelson and other larger peaks in the background. The access from the carpark is easy, and many of the trails interconnect giving you `easy outs` if you decide that you have bitten off more than you can chew. The trails are well maintained and do give the edge a wide birth – but do exercise caution with small children by holding their hands or keeping them close by. The views from here are unlike others in the valley as they are South / South-West facing which lends to a particularly magical sky in the evening time. 4. Mount Swansea Though you can hike Mount Swansea in its entirety, the section I am referring to is at the very top – after you have snaked your way up the mountain in a 4X4 and parked at the peak parking lot. From there, it is a short and sweet hike to the summit. It is worth noting that it is a steep (but short) ascent, so for those with injuries or that struggle with ups, downs and stepping movements, it may not be the hike for them. For small children or those new to hiking however, it the perfect trail full of wonderful scenery, forest and vegetation – with the true highlight being the summit view. On a clear day you can see mountain peaks 360 degrees in every direction, with the ancient Columbia Valley carved out below, decorated with lakes and rivers. Conveniently there are picnic tables and even an outhouse at the top, and the space is big enough that you could spend a while there taking it all in. If you’re lucky, you may even see a paraglider take off or a glider do a fly by. 5. Pedley Pass At just 2kms from the parking lot to the alpine pass and spread over 300 meters of elevation gain, this hike has everything that a much larger alpine adventure would have – including the amazing vistas. After winding through a quaint forest and up a rocky section of trail, Bumpy Meadows offers the perfect rest plateau or lunch spot before you tackle the second half. Once at the top, the flowers, views and alpine tarn are breathtaking as you look into the heart of the Rockys. It is unusual to reach such a dramatic vista without an enormous hike to get there, and the variety of the trail itself is sure to keep younger ones motivated. It is ideal for a young family finding their hiking feet, or those that want to enjoy alpine views but are unable to do very big climbs or cover lots of kilometres. You do need a high clearance vehicle to access the trail head however, but once you are there the trail itself is well marked. While it is important to acknowledge our physical limitations, it is equally important to not give them more credit than they deserve, and to stop doing the things that we enjoy entirely. Whatever the location, there is sure to be a good number of approachable, scaleable hikes waiting to be enjoyed. Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Nadine Robb

Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school specialising in private ski lessons, snowboard lessons and resort guiding services. The first of it`s kind in Hakuba, Japan – guests have the freedom to manage their time how they see fit, and have a choice of ski resorts, onsens and local lunch spots to ensure that they get the very most out of Hakuba. Originally from the UK, Nadine has been in Japan for 10 years now, with time spent in Austria and Canada previously. Author to the children`s book `Joey`s First Ski Lesson`, Nadine is also a professional Ski and Snowboard Instructor, Wilderness First Responder and Swift Water Rescue Technician and mother of two.

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  1. Those final words about acknowledging our physical limitations are very true. Though as someone who has been involved with personal training for most of my life I think many people, with some sensible preparation, are capable of far more than they ever think. As long as they undertake a structured and sensible training programme the rewards are not just a great family hike in awesome landscapes. They are also getting themselves in shape for life long after the hike is over and also getting themselves ready for the next hike too. Once you’ve done one it is so hard to resist another.

  2. Thank you Andy for your comment, and a great point raised about improving your overall fitness and shape. As you more than most would know from your profession, studies show not only the physical benefits from being in good shape, but the psychological ones as well. They say it takes 3 months for a new `thing` (sport, past time, activity) to become a true behavioural change, so even as autumn sets upon us, let`s keep up those new routines and hikes!

  3. One little tip for family hikes. Take plenty of water so that you can wash any wild fruit that you come across.

    My three were not great fruit eaters but they were happy to eat any fruit that we foraged along the way. Usually the taste is far more intense than what you get from commercial fruit.

    1. Great idea Sheila! Something about finding your own fruit surely does encourage the eating of it!

      Of course we must be confident in our knowledge of what something is before considering eating it. Many wild berries, mushrooms and foliage that are edible also look a lot like ones that are poisonous. Plant books specific to region can be useful, or just sticking to the ones that we are absolutely certain of.

    1. That is true Alex – for that reason it always good to start out with easier hikes so that you come to know exactly what distances your kids can achieved by them. Piggy back are very hard, and for much smaller kids – like toddlers – shoulder rides may be more comfortable (and more fun for them!).

  4. I would love to have a hike there, those mountains are quite extraordinary. I also like the view and the sceneries, it’s like those desktop wallpapers that you download on the internet where you can have a clear view of all the lands and the waters in the area. I have a very limited hiking experience, so I can’t really say I’m an expert. An easy family friendly hike is definitely something I can do. I was able to hike the Sierra Madre mountain range in the Philippines. Some parts are very steep and it would really get the best of you, but it’s really satisfying and exciting when you reach the peak and just enjoy the view, making you realize that these are the moments that are worth saving, experiencing nature at its finest.

  5. I used to hike when I was a bit younger but now that I am a mom, I cannot even remember the last time I went out of the house for a tour. Someday I dream to bring my daughter with me and hike The Old Coach Trail, I know she would love the scenery and the experience, same way as I did before.

    1. Thank you for your comment Regina, ah and how I can relate! Having kids sure does put the breaks on activities such as hiking. That said, walks like The Old Coach Trail are fortunately short enough that if your little one does get tired, it is possible to carry/piggyback/shoulder ride them back to the parking lot, yet also allows the space and terrain for them to explore until their hearts are content. When children are small the dawdling is endless, so the hardest thing on these entry level explorations is often keeping upbeat and patient!

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