The Glenmore Reservoir is an urban oasis and home to many parks and an extensive pathway system. In spite of being almost surrounded by the city its a great place to get away from it all. You can picnic, hike, bike, blade, sail, canoe, horseback ride, kite fly or bird watch. Or you can visit Heritage Park which borders on the lake.
There is a paved pathway that circles the reservoir and there are also many side trails allowing you to explore all corners of the park. If you do the complete loop it’s about 16kms. For this trip, we’ll be on foot, but at other times we’ve biked it and this is great fun too. We visit this trail most often in the winter or during bad weather, when access to the mountains is limited.
You can start the loop at any number of places, but this time we begin near the Lakeview Shopping Centre and head clockwise. Beginning here allows us to get the most unpleasant part of the trip over with first. That being the section that parallels the busy and noisy Glenmore Trail.
If you wish avoid this part you can take a footbridge over the highway and loop through a residential area and across the Glenmore Dam. This will add a couple kilometres to the loop but it does allow you to avoid most of the noise. To degree at least – at this point you can never completely escape the din. It’s along this section of the road where we were rear-ended in 2011, completely writing off our car and causing us much pain.
Prior to the Glenmore Trail section the trail follows the power lines though a residential area. There is a golf course here which prevents the trail from getting close to the lake.
Turning south now, we pass the Glenmore Hospital, a very large complex. It’s here we can also view the SS Moyie in it’s winter dock. In the summer, it plys the lake giving visitors to Heritage Park a boat ride back in time. Loosely based on the real SS Moyie stern-wheeler, which is located in Kaslo BC, this replica is somewhat smaller than its namesake. It was built in the mid 1960s by the North Vancouver firm of Allied Shipbuilders.
Shortly after the hospital the pathway enters a residential area and for a couple blocks you follow a road. It’s a quiet neighbourhood so there are no big worries about traffic here.
Back on the pathway we come to Heritage Park (officially the Heritage Park Historical Village). It’ a wonderful place to visit and houses an extensive collection of period buildings and attractions. Open in the summer, this time of year most of the attractions are closed. There is a circa 1890s replica of Calgary’s CPR train station which I like a great deal. The park is also home to the Selkirk Grill – a restaurant Connie and I highly recommend. Around here is where the pathway is most busy. And watch out for trolleys when in the area (in the summer).
Some replica billboards can be seen in the park and I have to chuckle at one. It’s an advertisement for the Calgary Brewery (who as it turns out also made soda in addition to beer) – I laugh as I am certain my step father was single handily responsible for keeping that company in business!
Still heading south we pass the Glenmore Landing Shopping Centre. Then it’s a sharp right heading directly west. The trail here is beside the lake, and can be followed as such until the Glenmore Yacht Club. Or you can take a different path that meanders on the bluffs above. Looking across the water Heritage Park is always in prominent view. And a bit further west on an opposite shore one can see the buildings of the Calgary Rowing and Calgary Canoe Clubs.
Still heading west the trail gently works it way to high forested escarpment. Rather than take this section we take a side trail (not paved) which dips down through the spruce trees below the bluff. This is a nice scenic section and at times it hard to believe we are in a city. We are often stalked by Chickadees who congregate by the dozen every time we stop. Used to people feeding them (including us) the little birds are surprisingly aggressive when it comes to food. This section of the trail is also a good place to watch other birds and we’ve seen hawks and eagles near here (along with other less exciting birds).
Rejoining the pavement again this heavily wooded area which is known as the Weaselhead. These low lying wooded flats border on the Tsuu T’ina first nation reserve and is the only part of the reservoir and park not surrounded by Calgary. We’ve seen moose and bear in this area. There are lots of side trails here to explore and one can keep busy for some time. You can horseback ride in here, although I don’t recall ever seeing anybody doing that.
After crossing the Elbow River, which feeds the reservoir, you head up a steep hill to some bare bluffs overlooking the lake. Following near their edge we are in North Glenmore Park. There are picnic sites here and many playgrounds and open fields to have fun in. You have a clear view down to the lake and on a summer day it can be a busy place with kayaks, canoes, sailboats, sculls and the SS Moyie all vying for space. By October though it’s all pretty quiet, save for a few hardy souls out sailing – probably their last outings before they retire for the season.
At a point (with it’s good overall view of the lake) we turn north and after passing the canoe and rowing clubs, we head out of the park following a road. To our right is that golf course we spoke of earlier. Shortly we’re back at our car and it’s here were our adventure comes to an end.
As I mentioned one can enter the pathway nearly anywhere and each time we visit we mix it up so as to keep it interesting.
The Glenmore Reservoir dates from the 1930s and is the source of Calgary’s water supply. You can often see fishermen along its shore. Coyotes frequent the park so keep and eye on your little dogs.
To see the headwaters of the river that feed this reservoir, click the link below…
Headwaters of the Elbow.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: October 2012.
Location: Glenmore Reservoir Calgary.
Distance: 16km for this loop.
Technical bits: None.
Notes: Watch for bikes coming down the hills. They can be moving quite fast.
Reference: To see a PDF map of the park, click here. Note this map is old and some minor re-routing of the pathway has taken place.