Last weekend my family went out on our first back country camping trip. We had some friends that had an extra site booking so we went out to meet up with them. We loaded up the car, packed our packs, threw the little red wagon into the back of the car, and off we went!
We drove up to Barrier Lake west of Calgary, and after unloading the car, began the 3.5km hike to the campground. The trail was a lot of ups and downs, and the wagon did pretty good on the trail. The kids did even better. My 6-year-old and 3-year-old made it the whole way without any help!
We arrived at the campsite and quickly set up camp while the kids played. I don’t know what it is about remote outdoor areas, but it’s almost impossible for kids to be bored in them. Alberta Parks maintain some pretty nice tent pads at this site, and there were bear bins and a group use cook area complete with multiple picnic tables. The only downside was that we couldn’t have a fire due to the excessive dryness this summer and the extreme fire hazard. Still, with the beauty of the area, and the excellent company, that didn’t matter. Our friend Kyle even took all the kids for a quick canoe ride in the bay!
Though it was a short trip, it was a great introduction, and after getting a little bit more gear, perhaps some smaller camp stoves and a sleeping bag that folds down better, we’ll be ready to do this completely on our own. As it was, this was a great experience, and the Jewell Bay Campground was beautiful. I’d go back in a heartbeat. Just don’t take the shortcut on the trail if you’re hauling gear in anything with wheels, as that stretch gets a little treacherous!
As I mentioned before, I would go here again. The hike was manageable even for our three-year old, and the views were amazing. I loved that we didn’t have to worry about the kids running out into traffic like you could potentially see in a standard campground, and they had a blast with the freedom that afforded them. If you use the bear bins and follow the instructions they give about how to clean up your site bears shouldn’t be an issue, and with cell service being sporadic at best, this is an excellent way to get away from it all for a weekend.