Calgary’s Best Walks

I’m a firm believer, whether at home or while traveling, that walking is the best way to explore a place. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good train journey, an epic ferry ride or a cycle through the countryside (*cough cough* okay, cycling is a vicious lie!), but walking trumps all. So, it was through joyful happenstance that I came across Calgary’s Best Walks by Lori Beattie.

Calgary's Best Walks

It was the cover that first drew me in, a painting of downtown Calgary done in vibrant colours and thick swatches of texture. Flicking through the pages, I was blown away by both the quality and the diversity of the walks – many that I’d never done before. Isn’t it shameful how we can live in our hometowns for years and yet we barely scratch the surface? Buying a copy of this book, I was determined to change that.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

Luckily I have quite a few friends and family members who share my love of a walk’n’talk outing. One of my friends indulged me and we picked Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, which is technically on the outskirts of Calgary, about 7km from Cochrane (home of Mackay’s Ice Cream, om nom nom).

Calgary's Best Walks

Per the guidebook, parking was no problem and the main lot is the start of a number of trailheads. Knowing that we didn’t quite have energy for the entire 14.5 km loop, we chose the 9.8 km option. What blew me away about Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is that it very much has a Badlands feel to it in areas. First you walk through a wooded area, complete with ancient, rusted farm equipment, then the path opens up to our big Alberta skies, the Trans-Canada rail line and the crystal clear Bow River. Absolutely stunning.

Calgary's Best Walks

Excuse the slightly dull pictures – we hadn’t quite reached full spring in Calgary yet. I swear we’re in the midst of budding blooms and green grass as we speak. Should you choose to recreate this walk now, I bet these trees are full and leafy.

Calgary's Best Walks

In many ways, the park operates not only as a great walking destination, but as a living museum. We passed a stone fireplace, fenced off from the public. Turns out this was once the fireplace of Waverley Ranch, owned by pioneer Joseph Cockbaine and his wife Elizabeth in the late 1800s. They bought the land for $10 and had only three years to make “improvements” to the land, otherwise it would go back to the Land Office ownership. Not only did they build their home, Waverley Ranch, on the land, but they began to cultivate it and farm it as well.

The sad part of this story is that they developed the entirely wrong piece of land! We really have no idea how lucky we are to have GPS nowadays, hey? Thankfully the government forgave them for their mistake and reassigned their plot to the land they’d already built their ranch on!

Calgary's Best Walks

And then… we got lost.

In NO way do I blame the guidebook for our getting lost – in fact, I blame a lack of signage at the Provincial Park. Beattie has a dotted line that leads to, ahem, a dead end – she knew it! Somehow we ended up on this line without realizing it. Look, we followed the cyclists that seemed to know what they were doing. See… this is why I despise cycling and cyclists. They’re a tricky bunch.

Turns out we missed the very sharp right turn that would have had us gracefully loop behind the hill we’d already passed. Instead we weaved our way up and down another forested area, to not one, but two dead ends, and thank god we finally made our way back to the path. Not wanting to get lost again, we chose to backtrack and return the way we came.

Calgary's Best Walks

Guarantee that our 9.8 km walk actually did turn out to be 15 km or more! While my friend and I truly got ourselves into this sticky situation, I felt most sorry for her three-legged dog, Buddy.

I owe Buddy some biscuits.

Calgary's Best Walks
Aside from our little navigation fail (I will hand in my former title of Map Girl… with shame), we were both full of fresh air, had the time to talk about everything going on in our lives, and were able to take in some gorgeous new scenery. I highly recommend this walk, just STICK TO THE PATH and don’t for the life of you follow cyclists.

Calgary's Best Walks
Overall, Beattie’s guidebook is extremely well written, has fantastic maps and provides a number of walks that differ in intensity, scenery and notes all the interesting sights (and coffee shops!) en route. It is well worth an investment if you share my love of exploration on foot.

Giveway – Win a Copy!

Everyone likes a free book, right? Well, for you lucky readers, I am giving away one copy of Calgary’s Best Walks. Enter the Rafflecopter link below, and find many ways to earn multiple entries through a points system.

Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline to enter is May 19, so you have two weeks to spread the word. Whether you’re a resident of Calgary or Alberta, or if you’re planning to visit, this walking guide is phenomenal!

This contest is open to anyone residing in Canada or the United States. That said, if you’re visiting Calgary from further afield (a real, planned trip), I’m willing to consider your entry and the shipping cost, so just comment below.

Calgarians – where is your favourite place to walk in the city? Personally I’m an addict for the river pathways (they’re on my doorstep)!

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2 Responses to Calgary’s Best Walks

  1. Alison Potter May 7, 2015 at 12:42 am #

    I like walking the labyrinth in Silver Springs which is a really short but meaningful walk! I have to confess that I don’t walk much (unless you count the off leash parks with the dogs) but this book could change that!

    • Victoria Smith May 16, 2015 at 9:48 am #

      Glad to hear it, Alison! It doesn’t look like you actually entered your information into the rafflecopter link, however. I can do so on your behalf, if you like – just let me know.

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