This fairly long urban trek is part loop and part out and back and takes us west from Edworthy Park to our final destination, Bowness Park. Along the trip, paralleling and close to the Bow River much of way, we’ll pass through many parks, natural areas and green spaces via paved pathways. In addition we’ll pound the sidewalk in places, mostly when we visit the community of Bowness. The entire day we enjoyed stunning blue skies.
Our adventure starts at Edworthy Park. From the parking space we cross the train tracks and soon after the Bow River via a pedestrian bridge. On the north bank, we turn left and follow the river for a while, soon passing behind a residential community before hitting Shouldice Park.
At a bend in the river we head north for a time and right away pass under the Trans-Canada highway bridge. The section we’ve traveled so far will also be seen on the return leg of our journey. At the old John Hextall Bridge, we begin the loop part of the trip. We head right, then left almost immediately on the first crossroad. For the next block or two we walk along a bike lane, given there are no sidewalks here. At the base of a hill, we hit the paved pathway again, which is icy in places. We soon drop down to river level.
Soon we’re heading west again, passing through a reclaimed green space (winter brown on this visit) that was once a gravel pit and cement company plant. Lots of debris from the 2013 floods is still visible along this section but I suspect it’ll get cleaned up eventually. That event made a big mess which will take time to fix.
Soon we’re heading up an escarpment, the only real elevation gain the whole day. This lofty position allows us a good view of the beckoning mountains in the west and the nearly ice free (odd this time of year) Bow River below. This section is known as Bowmont Park, or Bowmont Natural Area, a slice of green between residential neigbourhoods and the river.
The houses along this section are clearly from the late 60s and early 70s and have a real Brady-eque feel about them.
We pass by a side trail leading to Waterfall Valley, a place we plan to check out in the future. The weather has been warm for quite some time and as such the only snow we see in on the Canada Olympic Park (COP) ski hill seen in back. Otherwise, save for a bit of ice here and there, winter seems far away. Don’t worry, it’ll return. It always does.
In no time we drop down to an off leash dog run area, cross the river on a road bridge and enter our objective, Bowness Park. We glance back towards downtown and notice a lot of smoke, in fact quite a big plume of it. From this angle it appears like the Children’s Hospital is on fire, but it’s actually a building under construction in downtown, so further behind, that’s going up in flames.
Bowness Park has been a Calgary institution for over a century. A former “trolley park, so named because in the old days people arrived there by streetcar, it suffered a great deal of damage in the 2013 floods and even today, it’s still being fixed up. Notice the miniature trains track shown in one picture. That ride has been at the park for decades. Time for lunch!
Back to the walk, we head east now. Is that a Boler? Yes! Anther one for the records. In quick succession we pass two interesting bridges, one a fairly new and for pedestrian use only and the next quite a bit older, used by trains.
The pathway here has been washed out and so we detour and take to the streets in a residential area. Along here were find a nice 1963 Ford Fairlane, not fixed up or anything, but still looking cared for, and soon after a late 60s/early 70s Ford Van painted bright yellow. It’s just like my jacket!
We dip under the train tracks, catching a westbound freight in the process and soon enter “downtown” Bowness. This community was independent from Calgary until the 1960s and in the old day, quite a distance from it. It has an interesting small town feel.
Taking to a residential street, we’re soon at the John Hextall Bridge, often refereed to as the Shouldice Bridge, a former road crossing over the Bow now used by pedestrians and cyclists. There is a new span for autos immediately to the right. This bridge was built just over a hundred years ago and once carried those streetcars that we spoke of earlier, coming and going from Bowness Park.
Back on the route we came in on, in no time we’re at the car, another fun trip behind us. While these urban hikes are nothing spectacular, we’re spoiled by the mountains, they serve a good purpose. We get the exercise we need, and some adventure, even if it is on a more pedestrian level.
If you wish more information on this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: March, 2015.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Height gain cumulative: roughly 100m.
NOTE: all heights and distances are approximate.