Kid Friendly Hikes Near Calgary: Grotto Canyon

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Grotto Canyon
Trail Length: 4.5 km return (2-3hrs)
Elevation Gain: 200m
Age Appropriate: 5+

We hiked Grotto Canyon as part of our weekend camping at Bow Valley Provincial Park. It’s just a few kilometres away on highway 1A. From Canmore, head east on Bow Valley Trail for about 10 kilometers. Look for the Grotto Pond Day Use Area sign. The pond is popular for trout fisherman, the trail head is back towards the highway on the west side of the parking lot.

What a great name for a trail to explore, Grotto Canyon. This dried up river bed on the north side of the Bow River is a rock climber’s paradise. The 4k hike is a little technical in that you do have to criss cross the meandering stream that is left in the canyon, and that can mean wet shoes (or a wet bum in our case) if your kids are not careful.

If you go all the way to the end, you’re rewarded with a easy cascading waterfall on your right, or you can turn to your left and head deeper into the back country. The canyon is enough of a reward on it’s own and if the kids get frustrated along the way, you can turn around at any point.

It’s a popular spot for rock climbing, and we ran into a number of belayers with climbers on the rocks above. The canyon is a popular trek in the winter, just remember to have crampons for your feet and poles for your hands, as it can get stumbly and slick.

There are Hopi pictographs along the cave walls, unfortunately we couldn’t find them on our hike.

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I discovered this hike in the book, Take a Hike With Your Children. It’s a list of kid friendly hikes near Calgary arranged by those near Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and Kananaskis. The hikes are mostly under 5k, they’re flat (or not too challenging) and usually end in a reward that is a lake, or meadow, or waterfall. It’s been a great resource for me as I planned my summer outings with the boys.

Calgary Food Truck Reviews: Holy Crepe

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Here’s a complete list of where to find Calgary Food Trucks.

Description: Who says crepes have to only be French?

Holy Crepe bring cuisine, flavors, spices, and traditions from around the world and put them in our crepes. By bringing the perfect blends of food from all over the world, we created the most delicious and flavorful crepes that you will ever have! Savory gourmet stuffed crepes, from keftede and Greek salad, to curry chicken and rice, to decadent sweet crepes and specialty coffees.

The Holy Crepe food truck topped a recent Calgary Herald reader poll as the Favorite Food Truck in Calgary.

Sample Menu:
$9 The Original Sin
Breakfast crepe loaded with veggies, eggs, sausage or bacon, and cheese.

$9 Holy Smokes
Mushrooms, sweet peppers and onions sauteed to perfection. Topped with aged cheddar, our signature chipotle aioli sauce, dill pickle and freshly sliced montreal smoked beef.

$9 The Greek God
In order to be called Godly, you need to be the best. Keftedes (Greek meatballs), Greek salad, feta and our signature tzatziki sauce.

$8 / $5 Sweet (Baby) Jesus
Start with oatmeal almond crisp then decked out with your choice of apple, pear, blueberry, apricot or strawberry or fresh banana, then add your choice of nutella, peanutbutter, chocolate sauce, caramel, or maple syrup drizzle.

Review: I picked up a Sweet Baby Jesus with Nutella and banana for dessert after visiting other trucks in the area. It was perfect. The whip cream was a fresh taste, the cereal sprinkles were a nice texture, and having it as a small size was great.

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Calgary Food Truck Reviews: Braizen Chef Driven Cuisine

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Here’s a complete list of where to find Calgary Food Trucks.

Description: Steve Glavicich, co-founder and Chef of the BLAM!wich food truck, has now taken to the streets with the Braizen Food Truck. Chef-driven (pun intended!), slow-cooked, lovingly crafted, creatively served.

Drawing on flavors and inspiration from Asia, classic American, Middle Eastern, South America and beyond, Steve’s vision for Braizen is authentic food offerings, all lovingly crafted from scratch.

Sample Menu:
$7 SOBA NOODLE SALAD Edamame, beanspouts, cilantro, sesame ginger ponzu
$8 JERK CHICKEN SLIDERS (2 each) with pineapple slaw
$8 MEATBALL SLIDERS (2 each) in marinara with arugula
$9 CUMIN RUBBED LAMB With summer succotash & tumeric cream
$9 ADOBE SHORT RIBS With cranberry buttermilk slaw

Review: The short ribs were on point. Sweet with a little kick, the slaw that came with it was just average. The bean salad with avocado cream was fresh and crisp and perfect on a hot day.

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Kid Friendly Hikes Near Calgary: Troll Falls

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Troll Falls – Kananaskis Country
Trail Length: 3.2 km return / approx 90 minutes
Elevation Gain: 40m
Age Appropriate: this hike is stroller friendly making it great for all ages

Next to the Grassi Lakes Trail, the hike at Troll Falls in Kananaskis Country has to be the most popular for young families and kids near Calgary. (Here’s a look at Troll Falls in winter)

To get to the trail head, head just past the Kananaskis Village and take the road down on your right for the Stoney Trail. This is a popular place for horseback riders, it’s also access to the hiking trails at the base of Nakiska.

The trail is mostly flat, it’s easily accessible in K Country and there is a waterfall at the end of the easy 1.6km hike. The fact it’s named after a troll, and there is a bridge about halfway through the hike gives even more food for the imagination.

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On the return trip, veer to the left and head to the powerlines. From there you can head straight back to the parking lot, or add a walk through the Hay Meadow alongside the Kananaskis River.

There are geocaches at the parking lot, bridge, in the meadow, and at the top of the falls. It’s a busy trail, but we’ve still seen bear poo on the trail in the past, so bring bells, make noise, and have your bear spray handy.

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For a complete rundown of Kid Friendly Adventures in and around Calgary, check out

Calgary Day Trips: Smith-Dorrien Spray Lakes Trail Loop From K Country

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Banff and Lake Louise may get all the tourist love, but when it comes to authentic Rocky Mountain experiences, I’ll take Kananaskis Country every single time.

If the big national parks are filled with tourist traps, K Country is where the locals go to experience one of the best backyards the world has to offer.

The mountains are raw and steep in K Country. They just feel much more spectacular to me because you’re right up against them. The Highwood Pass runs right along the edge, and without fences it’s often you’ll see Rocky Mountain Sheep on the road. This is an old school Rocky Mountain experience.

The Smith-Dorrien Spray Lakes Trail is a gravel road running from Canmore to the K Country. Most of the road is 80km/h, there are some slower spots where the road narrows next to the lake. I took our SUV and had no problems with it, most of the other vehicles were trucks. I did see a fair number of smaller cars making the trek, I don’t know if I would have been comfortable in my compact with all the potholes, but the road is good enough that many different vehicles take it.

View Larger Map

The road is at the bottom of the Smith-Dorrien Valley and follows along the shores of the Spray Lakes reservoir. Mount Smith-Dorrien towers over the valley, taking the name of Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, a British soldier and commander of the British II Corps and Second Army of the BEF during World War I.

In Canmore, you grab the Smith-Dorrien Spray Lakes Trail by the Canmore Nordic Centre. It runs along to the top of the Grassi Lakes area and then to the parking lot where many gather to assault Ha Ling Peak. From there the road goes along the Spray Lakes reservoir leading to camping, picnicking, hiking, and recreation spots.

The road then pops out at the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park activity centre at Kananaskis Lake.

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If you have people visiting from out of town, take them over the Highwood Pass Loop or drive the Smith-Dorrien Spray Lakes Trail. They’ll get a chance to dip a toe into the raw backcountry that makes this part of the world spectacular.

Why I Joined Team Diabetes

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Many of us only become active in charities when they directly affect our lives. Our kids have autism, we wear the blue puzzle pin. Our grandmother has breast cancer, and our world becomes pink. Some charities, however, go beyond and reach out to those without personal motives. The red ribbon of the AIDS movement, and Lance Armstrong‘s Livestrong bracelets are examples of awareness becoming almost fashionable.

When I joined Team Diabetes in 2003, I had no direct link to the cause. I had no friends or family with the disease. I joined for purely selfish reasons: I wanted to go to Iceland.

Once I was part of the cause, I realized I had a chance to make a difference. As a member of the media, I have opportunities to not only win money for charities, but to use my voice as a louder than average tool to raise awareness. We all know that Bob Barker is behind people getting their pets spayed or neutered, I wanted to be the guy known for getting people to take their health seriously.

Team Diabetes Iceland 2012 was my 4th event with Team D. I did Iceland in 2003, Easter Island in 2009, and Rio in 2010 before. At this latest event, I was asked to address the team on the celebration night with an inspirational speech. Usually this speech is given by someone with a remarkable story about how diabetes has affected their lives and how Team Diabetes helps to make a difference. I have no such story, yet I took the microphone to talk about 2 people I thought of as I ticked off every kilometre of my run.

daniel hurtubise - ride of a lifetimeDaniel Hurtubise was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 15. Later, as a father of two, he decided to ride his bike across Canada to raise funds for JDRF.

After two weeks on the bike, Daniel had a hard day managing his diabetes. He wrote this in his journal:

For some unknowed reason I had a very bad day with my diabetes, during the whole day I could not transform my carbohydrates and protein to energie. The whole day I had a terrible headache, I was weak and could not think straight. Alex, Sonia Robert and François were very concerned, everyone was very quit and did not know what to do, I told them that despite the situation the day had to go on. A bad day for a diabetic trying to control his/her energy is much worst than riding 177km… Ask any type 1 diabetic and they will all agree with me…

Whenever I hit a wall in my Team D races, I think about everyone on that course from our team who is living with diabetes. The race is twice as hard for them. What I’m going through hitting that wall is easy in comparison, so I push through.

Two days after that entry, Daniel’s team was hit by a vehicle outside Winnipeg. Daniel and his best friend were killed, Daniel’s children sustained serious injuries but recovered. His cross Canada ride was never finished.

Kerri Sparling

Kerri Sparling –

The other person I high fived for every kilometre of the course was Kerri Sparling. Kerri is a very active diabetes advocate through her blog, Six Until Me. Kerri was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 6 years old and says that while diabetes doesn’t define her, it helps to explain her.

When Kerri was younger, she attended diabetes camps. She loved how she could run and play with kids who understood her issues and how she no longer was different. The camps created a great sense of community in Kerri’s life. That sense of community started to disappear as she got older. So Kerri started a blog about living with diabetes, and once again discovered a world of people who understood her highs and lows and could appreciate what she was living with.

Kerri is, perhaps, my most direct link to understand what it’s like to live with diabetes, and I’ve never met her in person. I googled for stories about life with diabetes 5 years ago, I came across Kerri’s blog, and we’ve been corresponding ever since. The story she told about hitting a low and crashing a lunch rush line up at Panera Breads should really put things in perspective.

There was a line for lunch. Four cashiers were working furiously, but the low was creeping up just as fast and my legs were beginning to buckle.

“I need orange juice. I’m diabetic and having a low blood sugar. Can you please help me as quickly as you can?” I stood there in my work clothes and my coat, with my grown-up purse over my arm and started to cry because I couldn’t function properly and I was becoming more and more confused. Not sobbing, not whining, not outwardly breaking down, but big tears rolled out of my eyes without permission and headed for my jawline.

Whenever I raise a dollar for Team Diabetes, I like to think I’m helping Daniel Hurtubise finish his mission to reach $500 000. Whenever I talk about Team Diabetes on the radio, or in social media, I like to think I’m helping Kerri Sparling build her community even bigger.

You can donate to Team Diabetes Edinburgh 2013 right now. Better yet, you can join Team Diabetes and do your own fundraising, your own training, and raise your own awareness. There are runs everywhere from the Cayman Islands to Amsterdam to right back in Reykjavik, Iceland again next August.

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