By SILVIA PIKAL
With golden leaves, cooling temperatures and quieter trails, the autumn shoulder season is the perfect time to explore trails in a beautiful park in Calgary. These natural trails range from challenging hillier terrain to hikes suitable for all abilities. Experience stunning city and mountain vistas and see abundant wildlife without ever leaving town.
Nose Hill Park
Nose Hill Park features a natural prairie landscape with more than 60 kilometres of designated trails and pathways. For a good workout, park at the Many Owls Valley Parking Lot and get ready for a steep incline that tops out to a flat plateau, with stunning views of downtown Calgary. Enjoy the view at sunset; there’s a good chance you’ll see deer. To continue your walk, follow any one of the numerous trails that intersect and cross at the top of the hill, which offer many different options for distance and terrain.
5620 – 14 St NW, 403-268-2489, www.calgary.ca
Bowmont Park stretches along the north edge of the Bow River, overlooking the communities of Montgomery and Bowness. In addition to the main paved path, there are several single-track trails to explore, which are frequented by hikers and mountain bikers. At the top of the park, you’re treated to views of the Bow River and mountain vistas to the west. For a unique experience right in the city, head to the Waterfall Valley trail conveniently located near the centre of the park. Bring the kids along for a fun hike down a wooden pathway to see wildflowers, bushes, trees, and best of all – a waterfall.
85 St NW and 48 Ave NW, 403-268-2489, www.calgary.ca
Fish Creek Provincial Park
This provincial park features 80 kilometres of paved and unpaved trails. Start at Bow Valley Ranch historical site at the end of Bow Bottom Trail South. Stroll through the Artisan Gardens, a public art gallery in nature featuring Canadian artists, before embarking on Fish Creek’s large trail system. The route is mostly flat on the main paved path, but you can travel on several hilly trails along the way that provide views of the park below. On the way back, treat yourself to a coffee from Annie’s Bakery and Café.
15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE, 403-297-5293, www.albertaparks.ca
Weaselhead Flats Weaselhead Flats natural environment park borders the west end of the Glenmore Reservoir. Park at the lot at 66 Avenue and 37 Street SW. Take a paved trail down a steep hill before crossing a concrete bridge to access the Weaselhead Flats trail system. Here you’ll find Calgary’s only delta, created by the Elbow River slowing down as it flows into the Glenmore Reservoir, and depositing sand and gravel to create a network of channels and marsh. The meandering trail intersects several times, giving you the option of stopping for a rest on benches in quiet areas. The area supports water birds, beavers, muskrats, and a mix of vegetation. Stick to the trails and be cautious of horse riders.
66 Ave and 37 St SW, 403-268-2489, www.calgary.ca