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Take a Hike!

The sun is finally shining - it’s time to head out for a walk with the kids and burn off some of that excess winter energy. There are over 100 different natural areas to explore in Calgary ranging from vast grasslands on Nose Hill to mountain-like surroundings along the Douglas Fir Trail, so there are lots of choice for everyone.

The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is a great place to start. This 32-hectare wildlife reserve offers more than two kilometres of level walking trails throughout the riverine forest, by the flowing river and alongside a peaceful lagoon. More than 250 species of birds and 300 species of plants, plus several kinds of mammals, have been observed in the area.

While spring and summer are prime times for viewing birds, a variety of wildlife can be seen throughout the year. The public is welcome to visit the Sanctuary during daylight hours, year-round but please leave your pets, bicycles, roller blades and bird food at home. Admission is free; however, the Sanctuary gratefully accepts donations.

According to Roland Kirzinger, a natural history programmer with the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, “Hiking gives us a chance to bond as a family, have fun and discover nature.” He adds, “When you¹re out for your walk, try looking for animal and bird tracks, and try to identify each species. Keep an eye aloft as well and
look for nests. Watch for birds and animals moving about; you're bound to see squirrels scavenging for food or just romping around as they celebrate spring. Have
geese started to return to your area yet? Keep an eye and an ear out for them.”

Hiking Tips from the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary:

  • Choose a trail and pace appropriate for the ages and abilities of the hikers.
  • Ensure everyone has proper shoes or boots, a hat, sunscreen and a backpack, (for extra clothing, water bottles and snacks).
  • Watch for new young plants. Make sure you don't step on them or hurt them in any way.
  • Never break off branches and twigs of trees or bushes, these are very important for new growth.
  • Don't pick wild flowers.
  • During walks, remember to pick up your litter, then dispose of it properly. Not only is garbage unsightly, litter can also sometimes badly injure wild animals and birds.
  • Watch for nestlings and baby animals, but never touch them. Sometimes, their mothers will not take them back if they smell human scent.
  • Dens and nests are the homes of wild creatures. Take care that you don't damage them.

Remember, "It's the journey, not the destination that is important."

Where to Go

1. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary - an oasis consisting of riverine and grasslands. Bird and plant life are numerous as you stroll along thetrails, with several observation decks for wildlife viewing and relaxation.

2. Nose Hill Park Natural Area - a vast grassland. It offers a breathtaking view of the city. Numerous prairie plants and animals can be seen making this area an ideal place for nature study.

3. Edworthy Park: Douglas Fir Trail - a magnificent illustration of mountain-like habitat because of a dense stand of 400-year-old Douglas Fir trees. It is not unusual to see deer, coyotes, woodpeckers, and a beautiful array of wildflowers.

4. Lowery Gardens - a wonderful natural area full of Balsam and Aspen Poplar, not to mention a multitude of rose bushes.

5. Weaslehead Natural Area - provides a scenic view of the Elbow River valley and its delta. Named after an Indian Chief who resided in the valley, Weaslehead contains numerous different plants and animals at home.

6. Carburn and Beaver Dam Flats - semi-natural areas feature lakes, river pathways and picnic facilities. Allow at least a half hour one-way travel time between the parks.

7. Baker Park – located right across the river from Bowness Park, Baker Park was once the sit of a convalescence hospital for First World War soldiers. Bathed in light and dotted with dozens of varieties of planted trees, the park radiates from a river-side plaza along the Bow River pathway. An ideal alternative to those summer days when Bowness Park is filled to bursting.

Some Suggestions for Summer Walks:

• Mini Walk - look for things smaller than a penny.
• Green Walk - search for different shades of green.
• Smelling Walk - sniff various objects such as mud, bark, moss, buds,etc.
• What's New Walk - keep a note in your family journal of returning birds, flowering plants, awakening animals.

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