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Adventure Outdoors

Two-Wheeled Travel By Colleen Seto

Calgary is home to the most extensive network of urban trails in North America. With approximately 635 km of pathways and 260 km of on-street bikeways, there is no shortage of great terrain for you to explore.

Glenmore Park
For a great family ride, take the kids around the man-made Glenmore Reservoir, Calgary’s largest body of water. Ride through Glenmore Park, where there are playgrounds and toilet facilities for pit stops, and in the summer, ice cream trucks offer tasty refreshments. As you descend into the Weaselhead Flatlands Natural Area, you might be lucky enough to spot a bald eagle. The entire loop around the reservoir makes for a nice challenge at 16.5 km.

Fish Creek Provincial Park
This enormous park is more than three times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, and is located in a river valley in the city’s south. With paved, dirt and off-road trails, Fish Creek is a favourite among both amateur and expert cyclists. Wind along the many pathways as you take in the wildflowers, plants, birds and trees. The park is home to 80 km of trails, of which 30 km are paved, and features a variety of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, owls, and beavers.

Nosehill Park
On the north side of the city, a ride through Nosehill Park, offers a peaceful ride with less traffic on the trails. You can ride up to 60 km of both moderate and difficult pathways. Most are dirt or gravel paths so they aren’t the best for inexperienced riders. Nosehill marks Calgary’s highest point and from it, you can see the mountains and the western skyline.

Confederation Park
Located in Calgary’s northwest this park features manicured lawns and greenery, along with creeks and tiny bridges. Confederation offers a pleasant ride that’s about 4 km one way. In the east end, Carburn Park offers a 3 km loop along the east bank of the Bow River, south of Glenmore Trail. There is a paved pathway around the perimeter of the pond which, with no hills and dips, is a great place to practice cycling. There is a playground on the west side of the park and toilets are available at the park entrance.

Bow River Pathway System
For a scenic ride to take in the city’s sights, the Bow River pathway system is your best bet. Start at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and cycle west past the zoo. From there, ride through bustling Chinatown, check out the downtown core, and pass by Shaw Millennium Park where skateboarders and BMX riders do their tricks. Finish up at Edworthy Park, along the south shore of the Bow. The best feature of the park is the Douglas Fir Trail, which passes through a rare stand of fir trees some greater than 400 years of age. The trail isn’t open to cyclists so park your bikes and enjoy the short hike.

Note: the parks and pathways are also great for walkers, runners and rollerbladers. Watch for signs as paths may have speed and activity restrictions.

BIKE RENTALS: The University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre rents bikes, and is accessible by the public transportation system. If you have a car, try Sports Rent, which is located very close to the pathway system. Cycling maps are available online at www.calgary.ca or at any Calgary Co-op store.

Calgary’s Blue-Ribbon Bow

Did you know that Calgary’s Bow River is considered one of the best fly fishing destinations in the world?

Tom Windsor, a local fly fisherman and guide, notes that the stretch of the Bow River just south of the city has been rated one of the best fly fishing rivers for trout in the world. Why is the fishing so good? According to Windsor, trout from the Bow are both big (averaging 18 to 20 inches) and notoriously spirited. “People can’t believe how hard the fish fight,” he says.

Wayne Hanson is another veteran guide who acknowledges the supremacy of the Bow, but adds “there’s a lot of great, great rivers within a two-hour drive of the city.” He recommends what he calls the ‘Horseshoe Trip’: if you start at Highway 22 by Longview and head south to Coleman, you can fish in sequence: the Highwood and Livingstone Rivers, Dutch Creek, the Old Man River and the Crowsnest River.

Though southern Alberta is not known as ‘lake country’, our lakes have some pretty decent walleye and pike stocks, according to Marty Anderson, a guide who concentrates on lake fishing using spin-cast reels and motorized boats. “I’ve had a bad day where I catch 40 to 50 fish,” he says, noting that he can reel in a whopping 200 on a good day. Anderson suggests Crawling Valley Reservoir, just 90 minutes east of Calgary which has walleye that are both big and plentiful.

You can head out on your own, but if you’re looking for someone who can supply boats, equipment, and a savvy knowledge of where the fish are hiding, Windsor, Anderson and Hanson all run professional outfitting companies: Walleye Chasers Professional Guide Service, 585-3882. Bow River Hookers Fishing Adventures, 874-8522. Hanson’s Fishing Outfitters, 1-888-522-4489.

Top 10 Golf Courses (That You Can Actually Play On) By Andrew Penner

You don’t need a $20,000 equity membership in a private country club to have a great golf experience: Calgary and area has some of the best public and semi-private with public access golf courses in the country.

With three distinct nines, a world-class practice facility, and a beautiful clubhouse overlooking Pine Creek Valley, Heritage Pointe is a leader in this town when it comes to upscale public golf, 256-2002.

A short drive south to Okotoks, D’arcy Ranch is one of the most enjoyable country courses you’ll ever play. Plenty of great holes routed through natural coulees, 938-4455.

Just minutes from downtown along the Bow River, Inglewood is a classic course that, thanks to city bylaws, will always provide some tee times for the public, 272-4363.

The secluded holes of Redwood Meadows—which curl through lush and pristine natural terrain near Bragg Creek—are impossible not to fall in love with. No public access on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, 949-3663.

One of the toughest tracks around, Valley Ridge is definitely a beauty and a beast all in one. Nasty mounds, wild greens, and a couple of difficult forced carries make for an exciting round, 221-9682.

If you like prairie golf, you’ll love it out on the wind-swept links of Speargrass. Half an hour southeast of the city in Carseland, the finishing run here is sweet, 901-1134.

High on the wind-scoured slopes above Cochrane, the Links of Gleneagles is about as brawny as golf gets. If you spray, you pay. However, for glorious Rocky Mountain views and some knee-shaker par-3s, look no further, 932-1083.

This Bragg Creek bully has a few of the most hair-raising holes in the land. Beautiful, boggy, bearish, bodacious, but if you want to play a raw but spectacular course in them thar rolling hills, this is the place, 949-3333.

One of Calgary’s newest is also one of its best. A terrific, tough-as-nails layout that swerves through a beautiful, unkempt swath of Pine Creek Valley, Sirocco is, rightfully, one of Calgary’s fast-rising stars, 201-5505.

Unquestionably, the stately, finely-groomed track at the Elks is one of the city’s best. Great variety and an awesome finishing stretch—including a wicked par-3 with an island green, 276-7981.—Collen Seto, Andrew Penner & Andrew Mah

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