Jan 142016
Elbow River pathways

Calgary has an extensive pathway system, covering all corners of the city. It’s one heck of a great resource which we use a lot, especially so in winter, when we can’t always make it to the mountains. These paved lanes head here, there and everywhere, most of them passing through parks, green spaces and the like, affording the urban trekker a huge variety of choices where they can go and what they can see. One rarely has to see the same section twice, keeping it interesting and fresh. Many are plowed if snow should fall.

For this urban adventure, we’ll hike up the Elbow River from where it joins the Bow, to the Glenmore Dam, and back down again, a nice 19km “stroll” that you can do too. Some of this route we leave the pathways and take to the streets. To mix it up a bit.

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ Scroll down for photos and to comment ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

To start, head to the historic community of Inglewood just east of downtown. There is public non-permit parking by the old Alexandria School. Pause for a moment and take in all the near century old houses in the area.

Head west towards the Elbow River and intercept the paved pathway. Turn left, almost immediately hit the 9th Avenue Bridge, a fine old structure that’s over a hundred years old and under threat of being replaced soon (charming Inglewood is being killed by gentrification). Cross the road and get back on the pathway. pass under the CPR tracks, then soon after the MacDonald Avenue Bridge (another historic span) and then enter the Stampede grounds. Look for anglers in the river – yes even in downtown Calgary the fishin’ is good.

Paralleling the river, Scotsman’s Hill rises steeply above to the left, the top a good (free, hence the name) viewpoint for Stampede events, especially fireworks. That name’s perhaps a wee bit insensitive, no?

Notice the Saddledome Stadium and the Stampeded Grandstand right across the river. Squeeze past some livestock pens and soon after trend right. Continue on through the Stampede First Nations Village site, duck under busy MacLeod Trail and enter Lindsay Park, the former site of a railway yard (the old CNR station still exists). Bend left with the river, cross over it (westbound) on a pedestrian span.

For the next few blocks we’ll leave the path and take to the sidewalks. Continue past the old Holy Cross Hospital (we said Grace before, our boo-boo, thanks Mike), which we wanted to see, and coming to the Elbow again, rejoin the path. Turn right and enter a park. Notice all the nice old houses across Elbow Trail. Back on a sidewalk, hit Sifton Boulevard. To the left, in that neighbourhood, is the former site of one of the first buildings in the area, a trading posted operating in the 1870s. That’s even before Calgary was Calgary.

Turn right and soon on, come to the Elbow Park School. Damaged by 2013 floods the fine old structure, save for one wall, which will be incorporated into a new building, is being demolished. Sad.

Cross the Elbow on a foot bridge (a new one, the original was washed away in that same flood), and turn right on Riverdale Avenue. Pass many palatial homes and enter Riverdale Park. Another footbridge over the Elbow (again a replacement for one destroyed by high waters). Head up, the only elevation to be gained this day, to the top of the river valley. At the dog park (bark, bark, lots of friendly pooches about) and behind a small school, turn left.

Heading south, enjoy the views of the river far below. Come to the Glenmore Dam and a water treatment plant. Explore the former, you can cross over it if you like. Built in the 1930s, the reservoir behind is the city’s water supply. A small park to the right makes for a good lunch stop.

Assuming you follow our route to the letter, and there is no need – change it as you like – retrace your steps, dropping back down to river level, sticking with Riverdale Avenue where the one footbridge (by Elbow Park School) comes in from the left. Don’t turn here and instead stick this side of Elbow River. Pass by many more old homes, drop under Elbow Drive, more old homes and enter Stanley Park.

Bending north, follow the river at the bottom of a bluff. More nice old houses on the opposite bank, many of which suffered damage from those nasty floods a couple years back. Remediation work is still ongoing with some.

Enter the Rideau Park neighbourhood, another well-to-do community with many nice old residences. There’s a 1930 built brick school to the right, down a short side street. It’s worth checking out if you like old buildings (and come on, who doesn’t?).

Come to the 4th Street Bridge and turn left (north). At the far side hit the pathway and turn right. Still close to the river, bend left with it and cross over, eastbound, on the 25th Avenue bridge. Cross MacLeod Trail, and the LRT tracks (at a tunnel exiting “cemetery hill”), meet up with the Elbow River pathway again and retrace your steps back to your ride.

More urban hiking…
Urban Trek – Bow Reservoir Loop.
Calgary Pathways – Bowness ‘n’ back loop.
Glenmore Reservoir loop.

If you wish more information on this trail, by all means contact us!

Date of adventure: December, 2015.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Distance: 19km.
Height gain maximum: 80m.
Height gain cumulative: 100m.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.

Rudge Bicycle

Rudge, the world’s most reliable bicycle.

Inglewood OutWest Park

Sculptures in OutWest Park.

Elbow River fishing

Anglers on the Elbow.

MacDonald St Bridge

Passing under the MacDonald Street Bridge.

Calgary Saddledome

The Calgary Saddledome in back.

Elbow River pathway

The pathway below “Scotsman’s” Hill.

Elbow River briidge

A bridge connecting two sections of the Stampede grounds.

Elbow River Calgary

A quiet stretch of river.

Stampede grandstand

The Stampede grandstand in back.

Elbow River pedestrian bridge

Crossing on a pedestrian bridge.

Grace Hospital

At the old Grace Hospital.

Elbow River pathways

In the community of Mission.

Wolf painting

Line-box public art.

Calgary urban hiking

Strolling along…

Elbow Park School

This wall is all that could be saved – Elbow Park School damaged by 2013 floods.

Pedestrian bridge Elbow River

Crossing on a foot bridge.

Tree burl

The biggest burl ever!

Riverdale Park

Entering Riverdale Park.

Riverdale Park bridge

Another bridge to cross.

Sandy Beach Park

Topping out above Sandy Beach Park.

Hoar frost

Hoar frost.

Elbow River Calgary

We’re now high above the river.

Glenmore Dam

At the Glenmore Dam.

Glenmore Reservoir

The Glenmore Reservoir, Calgary’s water supply.

Glenmore Dam Calgary

The structure dates form the 1930s.

Glenmore Reservoir Calgary

The view from out lunch spot.

Sandy Beach Park

Back in Sandy Beach Park.

Foot bridge Elbow River

This bridge replaced one washed away a couple years back.

Stanley Park Calgary

In Stanley Park.

Rideau Park School

Rideau Park School.

Calgary 4th St Bridge

On the 4th Street Bridge.

Calgary LRT

A C-Train exiting the cemetery hill tunnel.

Calgary downtown skyline

Clouds start gathering over downtown.

CPR Calgary Inglewood

We catch an approaching train.

Elbow River pathways

Our route (start at top)…


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4 Comments on "Urban Trek – Elbow River Pathway"

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Connie Biggart
Connie Biggart

Always a fun time with a great friend!

Mike Lowe
Mike Lowe

Wasn’t the Grace Hospital at 10th Street near 5th Av, NW? That was the old Holy Cross Hospital.