It was a different kind of spring in Alberta—in all of Canada, for that matter. Summer has followed suit as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. In many places, we’re wearing masks, staying physically distant, and washing our hands like mad. But even when Canada’s public health measures were in full force to flatten the curve, I was still able to leave the house and spend time outside. I’m thankful for that! In all the uncertainty, my time hiking or cycling is so helpful—nay, necessary—to manage day-to-day stress. And the occasional ice cream doesn’t hurt.
When it comes to cycling, there are benefits to living in Canada’s fourth largest city. The more I explore Calgary, the more beauty I discover. Most Calgarians are decent at sharing the road with cyclists. The city is way more bikeable than I used to believe. The pathways are impressive. It has definitely grown on me.
So, here are the Calgary bike paths that I’ve been enjoying these past few months:
Fish Creek Provincial Park
Fish Creek Provincial Park is situated in the south of Calgary. It boasts more than 80 kilometres of interconnected pathways—about 30 kilometres paved and dirt trails for the rest. There’s a lot of wildlife to see, such as pelicans, owls, coyotes, deer, and more. This park is highly maintained with maps posted in multiple locations. It’s a Calgary gem for cyclists and park enthusiasts! As one of the largest urban parks in Canada, Fish Creek makes my list.
Fish Creek PP is conveniently close to my house, at about eight kilometres to the entrance near the McKenzie Meadows Golf Club. When I ride from home to Fish Creek, I enjoy cycling the park’s pathways and trails. These pathways connect to the Bow River Pathway and the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway making it a great place to begin or end a ride.
Bow River Pathway
I jump at the chance to spend time beside water, so cycling next to the river is nearly as good as it gets! Before this year, I had only experienced short sections of the beautiful Bow River Pathway near Sue Higgens Park (Great dog park, by the way). This year, I decided to cycle 85 kilometres from Copperfield to Bowness and back—most of this ride was on the Bow River Pathway. Once I approach downtown, the path connects with RiverWalk in East Village which is a nice place to stop for coffee or lunch. Or you could continue along RiverWalk to Eau Claire Market or Prince’s Island Park. I crossed the bridge and kept going along the Bow River toward Bowness Park.
If you’re looking for a longer ride with beautiful views, this is the path for you. The diverse landscape while cycling by the river, into forested areas, through different communities, and into downtown makes this an interesting route. This bike path is easily one of my favourites in Calgary.
Nose Hill Park
Nose Hill Park is another one of Canada’s largest urban parks—over 11 square kilometres. Calgary has maintained some increadible green spaces (okay, they’re Calgary brown in the shoulder seasons!). We live in the southeast of the city, so I really don’t travel to the northwest very often. But I enjoy the variety that Nose Hill offers. There are flat paved pathways for road cycling and dirt trails for mountain biking with steep hills and more challenging terrain. My hybrid bike handles both paved and dirt paths fairly well. This is a great place to go to just have some fun. Nose Hill is located just north of the downtown core with cityscape views and the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
The loop around Glenmore Reservoir is about 16 kilometres. This beautiful bike route is popular for a reason. It’s one of the best places to cycle in the city while enjoying summer breeze and natural landscapes. This area can become rather congested with cyclists and walkers, so just be prepared. If you’re looking for a place to ride in the shoulder season, the pathway may just be clear enough.
This Glenmore Reservoir bike path stretches around the reservoir and into Weaselhead Flats. The Weaselhead Flats Natural Area is maintained by the City of Calgary. The area next to the reservoir is very open with views of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Weaselhead Flats is quite forested and I’ve often come across deer and other small wildlife while cycling here.
The Rotary/Mattamy Greenway surrounds Calgary and connects other bike paths like spokes on a wheel. The loop around the city is about 140 kilometres, networking with 1,000 kilometres of Calgary’s impressive pathway system. From my home in Copperfield, I often jump on the Greenway to head north alongside Stoney Trail highway. This connects to many interesting places like Ralph Klein Park. Visit the Parks Foundation website more information.
There’s so much of this pathway I have yet to experience. I’ve explored sections in the northeast near Abbeydale and the southeast near Copperfield. One of these days, I may attempt the 140 kilometres…. Maybe!
Well, there you have it! There are some really great spots to cycle in Calgary. Do you have a favourite place to ride? Are you from a different city or town with exceptional bike paths? I’d love to hear about it!