Open your front door, smell that summer breeze, stretch your legs and get outside. It’s the time of year where you want to be outside as much as possible. We know how important it is to stay physically active, especially for older adults. And one of the best ways to stay active is by hiking.
If you live in Calgary, you’re very lucky. The city has some of the best hiking trails and day trips in the country. Some trails take you along the mountains, while others are more subdued with lake views and flat paths. Here’s how to get back to nature without leaving the city.
Try these 9 hiking trails in Calgary
You’re going to love hitting these trails. Remember to pack a water bottle and a snack or two, as some of these trails are fairly long and can be challenging. You want to make sure you stay hydrated. It’s also a good idea to bring a family member or friend (respect social distancing rules), or in some situations, the entire family. Hikes are a great time for bonding. That said, you might just want to get away on your own and that’s perfectly okay, as well.. Here are nine of the best hiking trails in Calgary.
If you’re just getting into hiking, this is a great place to start. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is only ten minutes from downtown Calgary, with 2.5 kms of flat hiking trails. You’ll be hiking beside the Bow River and its over 270 species of birds. Since you’ll also be in the Inglewood neighbourhood, you can stop at one of the trendy cafes when you’re finished.
Location: 2425 9 Ave. S.E
Let’s step it up. The Elbow River Path is a full 21 kms running from the Bow River to Glenmore Reservoir. However, you don’t need to walk the entire thing. There are mini trails to explore, like the one that takes you past the Stampede Grounds to the Mission Neighbourhood. That’s about a four hour hike. You can head to the River Trail from there which will take you into downtown Calgary. Pro tip: Break up your hike and hang out in the Mission for a while. No need to rush this trail. This is a full-day excursion that you can relax and enjoy.
Location: 4th Street S.W (Mission neighbourhood entrance)
This is a popular hiking and running trail in the southwest part of the city and only ten minutes from downtown. The 2.5 km long trail is part of Edworthy Park, which the locals have dubbed “The Drunken Forest,” because of the creeping trees along the escarpment. Part of the Douglas Fir Trail includes a 200 foot escarpment called “Dead Man’s Drop.” As popular as this trail is, it’s not for beginners. In fact, it’s closed during winter and early spring because of safety concerns.
Location: Edworthy Park to Cedar Crescent S.W
They say that Nose Hill got its name because at certain angles the park resembles a nose. That might be true, but what’s certain is that there are 60 km of trails and pathways within Nose Hill, which is the largest natural environment park in Calgary. Only 20 minutes away from the city, maybe the most alluring aspect of Nose Hill is the view from the highest peak. If you make it that high, you can see the Rocky Mountains and the Bow River Valley. For those of you just getting started, try the South Nosehill Loop trail. It’s about two hours and just over 6 km. For something more challenging, try the Nosehill Big Loop. That’s about 17 km of trail.
Location: 5620 14 Street N.W
Weaselhead is a short but serene hike near the Glenmore Reservoir. You’ll only need an hour to hike through the woods which makes it one of the easier trails, but strolling along the Elbow River will make you never want to leave. You may also see some deer or a black bear (be careful) and you’ll surely notice one of the largest stretches of coniferous forest of any hiking routes in and around Calgary. It’s only about 15 minutes outside of the city so travel time is limited.
Location: 66 Ave. and 37 Street S.W
With about 25 km of trail, Glenbow Ranch is unique in that you will be rewarded with views of both the Rocky Mountains and the Calgary skyline. Glenbow Park is 30 minutes outside of the city and you’ll need time to get through the trails, so plan for the full day. There are signs along the trails that explain the history of the area and parts of the trail that make you forget the city is only a short distance away.
Location: 255001 Glenbow Rd.
Paskapoo is a popular biking destination so watch out for cyclists peddling up and down the trails. It’s about a 3.7 km loop etched along the Trans-Canada Highway and was used for the 1988 Winter Olympics. It’s a moderate hiking trail, meaning the level of difficulty is average, and has a range of biodiversity that has made it such a hot spot for hikers and tourists. Feel free to bring your dog, as well, just keep them on the leash.
Location: Cougar Ridge Heights, S.W. (main entrance)
This is another trail along the Elbow River that you must try. It’s part of Griffith Woods, which means it’s family-friendly with playgrounds, soccer fields, benches and even basketball courts. It’s about a 5 km long loop and is ideal for birdwatching and easy hiking. Preservation is important to the John Simonot Trail and Griffith Woods and they have been designated under special protection as a natural environment park.
Location: 160 Discovery Ridge Blvd, S.W
With designated picnic areas, canoeing, and a playground for the kids, Prince’s Island Loop is another one of those trails where bringing family would be a good idea. It’s a short 2.7 km hike with water views most of the way. If you’re really in the mood to be around people, there are various events that happen on Prince’s Island. This isn’t the spot for a serene walk; you’ll need to feel social if you plan on hiking through this trail.
Location: 698 Eau Claire Ave. S.W
Hit the trails and stay physically active
Hiking is one of those activities that exercises the body but also touches your soul. The beauty of nature while you’re on these walks is almost palpable. That’s why we suggest you add as many of these hikes to your activity list this summer and even into the fall. Maintaining your physical fitness will help keep you active as you age, allowing you to enjoy all that Calgary has to offer!
At Boomerang, we make it easy to stay active and pursue your hobbies or rediscover your passions. Older adults can register for over 250+ online workshops a month in areas of their interest. Our online classes are led by passionate hosts to help you explore your interests.