This is a short, easy hike that you can do with kids. Or without kids if you want. I can’t tell you what to do. Regardless, it’s a nice little loop that leaves plenty of time to check out a few other things in the Park if you want to (because, honestly, don’t make the trip into the Park just for this hike. It’s nice, but not that nice).
Where is it? The parking lot is just past kilometre 7 coming from the West Gate. The entry is on the north side highway 60 and it’s not a huge parking lot. Given how close it is to the gate, I suggest coming early if you don’t want to be parking on the small access road that leads up (literally, it’s up a hill) to the parking lot.
How long is it going to take me? It depends. Herding three kids along the trail and trying to keep them from jumping off it where the terrain beside it drops away? An hour, an hour and a half. On your own and just out for a walk, 30 to 45 minutes if you’re taking your time and enjoying the views.
What’s it like? I don’t know that this is my favourite hike I’ve done in the Park. It’s not a bad trail, but it was pretty busy which always takes things down a notch as far as I’m concerned. You start from the parking lot and descend a surprisingly steep hillside (make sure your 5 year old isn’t trying to just jump from top to bottom in one step). That takes you to the Oxtongue, and from there the trail follows a couple of twists and turns of the river. There are some nice views, and the trail is pretty well maintained. It is also, however, apparently falling away in places. There was one spot in particular where the river has eaten away at the bank underneath the trail. At this spot the trail happens to be about thirty feet above the river, meaning that if you’re not paying attention to where you step you might be in for a surprise. The river part ends at Whiskey Rapids, which is a nice enough spot but, again, super busy. The return walk is just a straight shot through the woods and is, frankly, boring.
Am I going to get lost? If you get lost on this trail you should consider never hiking again. Or leaving your house.
Am I going to learn anything? Like every other trail in the Park this one has a guidebook and posts every so often that provide you with some interesting information. If I remember correctly, most of the information on this one was about bugs. Oh yeah, there are definitely bugs. The Oxtongue is a slow moving, shallow river. Apparently one spring, researchers captured a million (black flies I think) rising out of one square metre of water.
Highlights? There are highlights, right? I suppose Whiskey Rapids would be a highlight. There’s also a spot about halfway along the river where you can leave the trail and walk along some sand banks which are quite nice. But there’s not really anything life changing here.
Should I do it? Yes and no. If you’re looking to keep the kids occupied it’s a good one. If you’re looking for a secluded or challenging trail, this is not the of one for you.