It had been exactly three years since we hiked the 2.3-kilomtre loop trail at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park near Cochrane. September is a wonderful month to hike here, as the foliage is changing colours and provides a beautiful golden backdrop to the main attraction: a series of waterfalls that cascade over rocky terraces.
Back then, the kids were six and four, and it took much longer for their little legs to tackle the trail. Now, at ages nine and seven, we seemed to effortlessly crest the hill and zoom through the groves of aspens and stands of spruce trees in no time, ending the hike at the spring-fed stream and falls for which the park is named.
Really, this is the perfect hike for children: it’s close to Calgary, it’s not too long and the total elevation gain is only 20 metres. What’s more, there’s plenty to keep kids interested including giant tufa boulders to clamber upon, a couple of wood ‘tepees’ to explore midway along the trail and lots of opportunities for water play.
My favourite part of the hike was walking along the leaf-littered path through the aspens as new yellow leaves floated down to join the seasonal carpet, with Avery exclaiming, “It’s so pretty!” It’s seems amazing how much more the kids can do — and how much more they appreciate hiking — in three short years.