This in-city hike parallels the Bow River from a point just west of downtown Calgary, heading away from the core towards the green oasis that is Edworthy Park. From there, of course after crossing over the water, the route reverses direction to eventually bring one back to where it all started. In spite of this being urban territory you’ll pass through a nice and large natural area, one with an identity crisis, on the return leg of the trip. The CPR tracks will keep you company much of that time – good to know if you’re train crazy.
It was a “mild” -10c this day. Balmy weather for a stroll. We’ve done it @ -30c with even thinking about it. You of course can do it sans snow and cold if you like. But…shouldn’t you be in the mountains when it’s warmer?
You can do this loop clockwise if you like, but the way we travelled means you’ll leave the best part for last (IMO). Start by parking at the Sunalta C-Train Station. There is free no-permit spaces beside that nearby park.
Go up and over the CPR tracks, aiming for the Greyhound Bus Depot. Back on ground head northeast toward the 14th Street Bridge and cross over the Bow River. Turn left at the far end of the span and intercept the Bow River Pathway. That water course will always be close by your entire trip. Continue west.
Make note of a Osprey nesting platform, simply a pallet atop a tall pole, where a pedestrian overpass crosses over Memorial Drive. Dip under busy Crowchild Trail where it crosses the river (we seem to spend a lot of time under bridges). Get real close with busy, noisy Memorial Drive for a time, bend left a bit leaving the dim behind and duck in behind a residential area. This will likely be the busiest section of the trip for you.
Come to Edworthy Park. Before crossing over the river grab a hot chocolate (if it’s cold) or an ice cream (if it’s hot) at Angel’s. In Edworthy Park, long ago site of a farm, pass playgrounds, cross over the railway line and immediately turn left (east). The next section of path does not get plowed in winter, so be prepared (ignore this warning if you visit in August). Ice flows from natural springs coming off Spruce Cliff, that high treed slope to your right, adds to the fun.
Cross over the tracks and enter Lowery Gardens. Note: the city calls it Lawrey Gardens and other sources refer to it as Lowry or Lowry’s Gardens. Regardless of name, it’s a large natural green space that’s very un-urban like. Located on a low flat treed plain beside the river, this area managed to escape development all these years, no doubt due it’s susceptibility to flooding in the spring. Lowry, Lowery, Lonny, Larry or what ever his name was once farmed near here. Old records refer to him as Lawrey, so I guess the city is right, so we’re not sure why it’s morphed as it has with Lowery being most used often by others, including us I guess. Enough.
If you like to train spot, and who doesn’t (what, you don’t), find a trail that heads towards the tracks and take in the action. That was out plan, but the railway let us down. Damn, no trains! Wait…we have wine. The day is saved! Since the CPR could care less of our needs we find a nearby fallen tree turned bench, have lunch and get a bit tipsy. Not a bad plan B.
Moving on, cross under a busy road bridge (us trolls can’t avoid them), come to Pumphouse Theatre made from, you guessed it, an old pump house. It once an integral part of Calgary’s waterworks system.
Turn right, come to the tracks (again!), crossing over, and at the first east/west trending avenue, turn left. In a few blocks you’ll be back at the car. We take a small detour to visit a store however. Had the munchies from drinking all that wine! Along here we notice a number of fine old houses, or what once were fine old houses, slated for demolition. More history lost.
Back at the car, it’s been an easy but enjoyable walk. Not the most exciting of hikes, but it’s not without some charms. Anyway, one should always enjoy everything they do. Have a blast, always, get in the groove, and nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever be ever boring.
If you wish more information on this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: December, 2015.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Height gain maximum: Negligible.
Height gain cumulative: Negligible.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.