Quiet paved pathways, creeks, wildlife, playgrounds, ice cream and some wonderful picnic spots – that’s what makes a perfect bike ride for little kids! No set destination, just pedal and explore. Check out the suggestions below for rides that are perfect for the littlest and newest of bike riders.
Confederation Park, NW
Creek crossings, duck pond, paved pathways, natural play space playground
Serene, peaceful, and pleasant, Confederation Park is a break from the city’s bustle and a wonderful place to recharge, take a playground break, or have a picnic. Paved pathways that wind beneath the poplars and alongside the creek, Confederation Park is a popular year-round destination for walking, running, and biking and is the perfect spot for kids to hone their biking skills while soaking up nature. Once known as the North Hill Coulee, Confederation Park became a more manicured recreational park in 1967 and is now popular with everyone self-propelled. The paved pathway that runs through the park parallels a stream and managed wetland. Creekside balsam poplars thrive, and shrubs like water birch, red-osier dogwood, and several species of willow provide habitat for a variety of ducks, geese, and gulls, along with muskrats and many winged invertebrates like butterflies and dragonflies. There are many parking lots to access the park and you can start at any of them and then pedal as far as you’d like before stopping to enjoy a snack along the creek.
Starting point: The 10 Street parking lot just south of 23 Avenue NW, or any Confederation Park parking lot.
Destinations: Natural play space in Confederation Park, duck pond with viewing platform, many picnic tables
St Patrick’s Island & Riverwalk Loop
Pathways, playgrounds, picnic spots, Trout Beach natural water park, ice cream, coffee, people watching
St. Patrick’s Island is a family favorite and a perfect spot to test the new bike skills on the mix of paved and gravel trails. Plan to stop and enjoy Trout Beach natural water park and of course, the playground. As you pedal the park you will also find a fishing cove, wetlands, wooded areas with meandering pathways, and a hill to climb to get great views of the city and then to run or roll down. Cycle across the Bow River to the East Village Riverwalk and stop for a drink and snack at the Simmons Building. Soak up the energy of the city as you enjoy your snack and people watch. The Riverwalk in the East Village is a happening spot where all sorts of self-propelled people pass by and live music, markets and festivals are often taking place. Post-snack, you can continue east along the paved Bow River Pathway past Fort Calgary and into Inglewood for a longer ride. Loop back across the 12 Street bridge and past the Zoo to your starting point.
Starting point: Take the Bridgeland LRT or park in the official parking lot.
Destinations: St. Patrick’s Island Trout Beach and playground, the Zoo, TELUS Spark, or walk or ride through the East Village to the Central Library and National Music Centre. Search for murals and public art throughout the East Village.
Tasty pit stops or picnic supplies nearby:
Carburn Park & Lynnwood Escarpment, SE
Big nature with wetlands, deer, and abundant birdlife along the Bow River
Families looking for an afternoon or post-dinner pedal or to allow the kid to burn off some energy, will enjoy a visit to Carburn Park and, depending on cycling abilities, a ride north to the Lynnwood escarpment. This pedal is perfect for all ages with its water features, wildlife (so many deer!) and mostly paved pathways. When the trees are in leaf, this extensive suburban green space becomes a refreshing nature getaway. Balsam poplars offer shade while shrubs like saskatoon, chokecherry, American silverberry, and Canada buffaloberry provide textures and colors along the trail. Pelicans, double-breasted cormorants, and bald eagles all frequent this area, and many deer call the park home. Follow the paved path around the lakes at Carburn Park or for a longer ride, continue north along the Bow River Pathway under Glenmore Trail, and up the escarpment to Lynnwood. Soak up views of the Rocky Mountains, the downtown core towers, and industrial Calgary. Park the bikes here, grab a seat on a bench and enjoy a snack!
Starting Point: Park at the Carburn Park official parking lot at 67 Riverview Drive SE.
Destinations: Bring a picnic, your fishing rods, canoes, dinghies, and paddle boats and enjoy a float on the two ponds at Carburn Park post ride.
Facilities: Bathrooms near Carburn Park parking lot
Lori is the author of Calgary’s Best Bike Rides: 50 urban cycle tours and pathway pedals and the best-selling guidebook Calgary’s Best Walks: 45 urban jaunts and nature strolls. She is the owner of Fit Frog Adventures where she leads year-round urban walks, hikes, and snowshoe days. Lori presents about all things walks and biking and she partners with the Calgary Library to offer free guided urban walks every month. Connect with her, see upcoming events, and get signed copies of her books on Instagram @lorifitfrog and at fitfrog.ca and at bookstores and cool shops throughout Calgary.
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