My five favorite spots for a Calgary winter walk:
Bowmont Park Waterfall Valley, NW. Little rockhounds will love racing down the boardwalk trail into Waterfall Valley, where a 3m cascading fall flows over a spongy-looking deposit of tufa. The tufa is composed of mineral deposits that result when spring water precipitates calcium carbonate over algae-covered rocks. On a very cold winter day, when the falls are frozen and the spring water is warmer than the air, you are immersed in a glacial steam bath. Climb out of the valley to the stunning Bow River and Rocky Mountain views as you walk west along the single-track escarpment trails. Descend to the wetlands and listen for the familiar croak of the boreal chorus frogs and tiger salamanders, before looping back along the Bow River pathway. Starting point: Parking lot at Silver Springs Boulevard NW and 54 Avenue NW.
Jackrabbit Trail, Glenmore Reservoir, SW. Within minutes of the trailhead, you leave the paved path and begin a chickadee-intensive walk on a rolling, forested trail, where you’ll enjoy intermittent views of the Glenmore Reservoir. The narrow path grows wider when you enter the Weaselhead Park trail system that continues to the paved Glenmore pathway at the far west end. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and, while moose and bear sightings are rare, these animals do, at times, follow the Elbow River Valley into the city. The entire Jackrabbit Trail loop is about 7km, but can be customized to be shorter or longer. Plan a stop at the Quinterra Legacy Garden, an interactive musical park, and the South Glenmore Park playground at the end of your walk. Starting point: South Glenmore Park, 24 Street and 90 Avenue, SW.
Crescent Heights and Sunnyside, NW. A Crescent Heights Christmas lights walk is a great way to kick off the festive season. The combination of the downtown skyscrapers and elaborate light displays is dramatic and impressive. Continue your walk to the McHugh Bluffs hillside trails or stairs and descend to Prince’s Island Park. During the day when the sun is up, explore the east end wetlands trails before looping back west to the Peace Bridge. Cross into Sunnyside, where garage murals and cozy cafes await, before climbing the path at the end of 7 Street and back up to Crescent Heights. Starting point: Crescent Road, NW. Park anywhere in Crescent Heights or the Sunnyside LRT.
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Vast and open, Glenbow Ranch hosts 40km of interconnecting paved and gravel pathways that meander through the rolling grasslands and alongside the working cattle ranch. Boundless views of the Bow River Valley and the Rockies beyond are a constant when climbing out of the aspen-filled coulees. You will see trains, cattle, deer, and possibly a camouflaged moose tucked into the shrubs. Since 1883, trains have traveled through this piece of prairie as part of their cross-Canada trek. Pack a thermos of your favorite hot drink and a picnic, and settle in for a grasslands lunch with a view. Starting point: Glenbow Road, off Highway 1A, about 4km east of the town of Cochrane.
Tom Campbell’s Hill, Bridgeland and St. Patrick’s Island, NE. Pat a few pooches and soak up the stunning Rockies and downtown views as you walk through Tom Campbell’s off-leash park. Follow the paved path off the hill and cross Memorial Drive, continuing west to St. Patrick’s Island. Nature trails, a sledding hill, and a playground make this a popular spot with kids. Cross the Bow River to the RiverWalk, grab a snack at the Simmons Building, and then loop back along the river pathway or along Inglewood streets, 8 Avenue for the homes tour, or along 9 Avenue for a bit of shopping, an Esker Gallery visit, or many tasty pit stops before crossing the Bow River on the 12 Street bridge and looping back. Starting point: Bridgeland LRT or Tom Campbell’s Hill parking, Child Avenue and Hill Road, NE.
Lori is the author of Calgary’s Best Bike Rides: 50 urban cycle tours and pathway pedals and 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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