Jan 192017
Beacon Hotel Calgary

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?!

Calgary’s Best Walks #10: a fun urban trek from that book. A Chris and Connie Adventure! (BIGDoer/Synd/CityOfCalgaryED)

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.

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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.

More urban hikes…
Urban Trek – We Have Wine!.
Urban Trek – Bow River Loop.
Happy Trails High River .

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.

Downtown Calgary Skyline

The downtown skyline and mountains calling our name.

Calgary Airport

Making an approach…

Deerfoot Pedestrian Bridge

Goin’ over Deerfoot.

CPR Calgary to Edmonton

Crossing the CPR’s Calgary to Edmonton Line – darn no trains!

Artistic Photo BIGDoer.com

Aren’t we artistic!

Calgary Renfrew Neighbourhood

Entering Renfrew Neighbourhood.

Calgary Winter Walking

Strolling along in the frigid cold.

Outdoor Christmas Ornament

Merry (Belated) Christmas!

House Calgary Renfrew

Found this house photogenic.

Calgary 16th Ave

On 16th Avenue.

Pho So Calgary

Lunch stop – nothing beats Pho on a winter’s day!

Beacon Hotel Calgary

Connie dreams she’s “Freakin at the Beacon”.

Linas Italian Calgary

Lina’s Italian Market – yummy stuff there.

Scopa Calgary

Bikes at Scopa Restaurant.

Calgary Urban Trek

The odd things that catch the eye.

Winston Heights Calgary

In the Winston Heights/Mountview Neighbourhod.

Midfield Mobile Home Park

Channeling Ricky at the Midfield Mobile Home Park.

Calgary Pathways

Dropping down to Nose Creek.

Garmin Virb X Timelapse

Recording a silly little timelapse.

Vista Heights Calgary

In “Vista Heights” and almost back at the car.

Calgary's Best Walks #10

Our route roughly follows route #10 in the book Calgary’s Best Walks.


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18 Comments on "Calgary’s Best Walks #10"

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I remember the Brick being on that corner, at some point when I was kid it had an animated neon sign of some kind of character tipping his cowboy hat. We used to call him the Howdy Man. This is a vague memory lol I hope it was actually real!?

Paul von Huene
Paul von Huene

I drank a beer or two at the Beacon. Don’t ever remember a fight or drugs. Lots of old cowboys nursing their beer. Round tables with the red terry cloth covering. ALCB glasses with the line. Somebody doing a rendition of Dave Dudley’s “Six days on the road”. Early ’70’s

Haley Zeller
Haley Zeller

Amazing how you capture ordinary places and through your photos and writings and a bit of subtle humor make them something special and interesting.

Diane Beaudoin
Diane Beaudoin

(via Facebook)
Peekin at the Beacon was a blast.

Bernard Nemeth
Bernard Nemeth

Beacon was not just a name. They had a revolving beacon light that could be seen from Hwy 2 south as you approached Calgary.

Karen Davies
Karen Davies

Spent a few Friday nights “Freakin at the Beacon” back in the day!! Had a lot of fun there!!

Glen Halvorson
Glen Halvorson

Great memories (at the Beason), seen lots of great bands there Godo,Helix and many many more and not to mention lots of dancers and dancing Doug Johnson who would enter amateur days on Sat afternoon and then share his winnings in beer with his buddies LOL!

Roberta Lyons
Roberta Lyons

(via Facebook)
We loved freakin at the beacon!! Especially on Halloween!

Rick Nesgaard
Rick Nesgaard

Saw Mitzy (ping pong queen) Dupree there (at the Beacon).