Here’s a pleasant city hike. Inspiration for it comes from the book Calgary’s Best Walks (Lori Beattie, 2015) and for the most part follows route ten as laid out in its pages. The trek takes in a nice mix of green spaces (well, white in the depths of winter) and parks, older well established neighbourhoods with tree-lined streets, and busy commercial strips. The going is flat as a pancake, save for the dip down to get in and out of the Nose Creek Valley. On our visit temperatures hovered in the mid -20s. Hopefully it’s not so frigid when you do it.
Start at Vista Street NE, at Airways Park and follow the paved pathway as it heads roughly northwest-ish behind a ball diamond. There’s nice views of the downtown skyline and the Alberta Rockies here. A parade of planes on approach to Calgary International can be seen, and heard, passing overhead. Look up! Moving on, drop down a bit and at a pedestrian bridge cross Deerfoot. The din! What’d you say? WHAT?!
Trend south-ish keeping next to a golf course. Cars noisily zip by just beyond the fence to the left. Cross Nose Creek, frozen solid on this arctic-themed day, hop over the CPR’s tracks (Calgary to Edmonton Line – sadly, no trains were seen) then turn left immediately. Head under 16th Ave and take the path that switchbacks upwards. Top out at a nice view point then hit the streets in the Renfrew Neighbourhood. Head north on Renfrew Street then turn left on 15th Avenue and follow it for a time.
Left on Russel Road where 15th ends. Then in a short distance it’s right on Regal Crescent. The neighbourhood dates from just after World War Two. For a time the land here was home to Calgary’s airport. There’s lots of nice post-War houses to see in the area. Ones from then are always so small when compared to the giant McMansions of today. A few caught our eye…but then we’re suckers for old dwellings, even ones still lived in. And you thought we’re only after the abandoned stuff.
At 4th Street turn right and in a couple blocks go left on 14th Avenue. At 1st Street turn right, then almost immediately left on hitting 16th Avenue. Here’s where we deviate from the guidebook (they’ll have our hides!). We’re looking for lunch and head a couple blocks west to where the restaurants are. A Pho places fits the bill – warm soup on a cold day can’t be beat and anyway we’re cheap buggers and these places are always budget friendly.
Next door is the Central Landmark Building, home to an Asian Grocery store. In years past the notorious “Beacon Hotel” was located here. In the 1970s it was a rough and tumble place, with dive accommodations where no one in their right mind would stay, a couple dive bars, one for fans of cheap booze, another for fans of booze and boobs. Getting sloshed at the Beacon was right of passage for everyone fresh out of high school. Let’s go Freakin’ at the Beacon, they’d say (alternately “Get Peakin’ at the Beacon”). There was always trouble there. Drunks, drugs, fights, crime…you get the picture.
The place closed in the 1990s (I think it had another name them) and no one but the booze-hounds lamented its passing. The cops, well, they breathed a collective sigh of relief. The ghosts of scantily clad entertainers, near-naked lost souls roaming aimlessly about the halls of Central Landmark, are reported from time to time.
Head north up Centre Street in the Tuxedo Park neighbourhood. It’s an older community and dates back to the 1910s-1920s. A place of note seen along this section is Lina’s Italian Market. Lots of yummy stuff there, if you can afford it. At 22nd Avenue turn right passing many fine old homes as you go. On crossing Edmonton Trail (almost got mowed down there) enter the Winston Heights/Mountview neighbourhood (1930s-1950s era).
At 6th Street head left, then 24th Avenue a right, right again at 7th Street, then left once again back on 6th Avenue. At Victory Park, on a paved path, head towards the Fire Hall, then behind, the trailer park. This is no Sunnyvale, quite the opposite. It’s nice, tidy and orderly. One can’t help chuckle however thinking of Ricky, Lahey and Cyrus types causing trouble here. No matter what, trailer parks always come with this seedy reputation as is satirized in the show, even when it’s undeserved.
Head east-ish on a high escapement. Soon on, drop down to the main pathway where you came in and retrace your steps back to the car. There’s an easy dozen clicks behind you. Felt (to us) like a lot less.
We had some fun here. Suspect we’ll follow more routes outlines in the Calgary’s Best Walks book which we’ll share here over time. The author seems to have picked some fine routes taking in all manner of interesting things.
If you wish more information about this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: December, 2016.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Distance: 11.5km loop.
Height gain maximum: Maybe 50-ish.
Height gain cumulative: Maybe 100-ish.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.
Technical bits and notes: The usual urban hazards.
Reference: Calgary’s Best Walks by Lori Beattie.