Thursday, May 07, 2015

Our Favourite Microadventures in Calgary

Confession time:  I'm an outdoor mom who hates playgrounds.  Truth.  I find them boring and I count down the minutes until we can continue on with our bike ride, head home, or leave to do anything else. I still take my 6 year old son to the playground because I know how much he likes them, but I build playground time into our bigger adventures and contemplate smuggling wine in my water bottle (something I haven't actually done yet.)

This is my IDEAL playground (The Big Rock on the Paskapoo Slopes, Calgary)

In my ideal world, we'd jump in the car ever day after school and head to the mountains to go hiking.  We'd spend every afternoon climbing mountains, biking, or paddling down a river.  And evenings, again if we could, we'd drive out to the local crag to go climbing, we'd drive to the nearest mountain bike park, or we'd tackle a summit for sunset.  This is the world I'd like to live in.

Every evening would be spent on top of a mountain in my ideal world

Reality?  Gas is not free.  We do not live in the mountains and it's a 45 minute drive from my house before we can climb anything.  Bedtime for my son is 8pm.  And finally, I'd probably wear out my 6 year old if I were to drag him to Canmore or Banff every day after school.  Gosh, I'd wear myself out.

Thank God for Microadventures!  These are the little adventures that save our lives, that bring sanity into our week, and help us survive until the following weekend when we can flee the city for the hills once again!!

Microadventures like this keep us sane through the week (biking on the Paskapoo Slopes, Calgary)

Below are some of our favourite microadventures that keep us sane each week:

Mountain Biking on the Paskapoo Slopes of Calgary

It's rather pathetic that we'd never explored this amazing natural area in Calgary until a week ago!  We live less than ten minutes away and yet had never explored the Paskapoo Slopes or "Eastlands" as the area is often referred to until last Friday.  Since our visit, we've now gone biking here three times!

Biking "Lemon Orchard" East of Canada Olympic Park on the Paskapoo Slopes

Every time we visit this area, we discover something new.  On our first visit we found the Big Rock and the Old Beaters (both shown in photos above.)  On our second visit we re-visited the rock, the old cars, and found the remains of an old house foundation.  Then on our third visit, we introduced Grandma to the rock, the cars, the old house, AND we found a Buddhist Stupa!

Every Microadventure takes us someplace new.  (Exploring the Paskapoo Slopes, Calgary)

For more on this amazing gem in NW Calgary and to read more on why we need to save the Paskapoo Slopes from development, please check out my friend Karen's newest story:  Save the Slopes!! (Why the Paskapoo Slopes Should Not be Developed and How you can Help.)

The Old House Foundation on the Paskapoo Slopes, Calgary

Want a map of the slopes that shows the location for the old cars, the old foundation above, and the big rock?  Check out the one below with stars for each landmark.  The map is courtesy of Save the Slopes.  

Hiking and Geocaching in Calgary's Natural Areas

Geocaching in Bowmont, Calgary

Geocaching is another thing I'd heard about for years but had never tried.  This spring however, I finally purchased a geocaching app for my iPhone and we headed out to see what all the fuss was about.  The result?   We now have something to do on cool crappy spring days.  It doesn't matter if it's sunny or rainy, cold or warm, or if we are inspired to get outside at all.  Geocaching is always fun and can be done in all conditions or moods.

So far, these are our geocaching highlights:
  • Chasing rabbits around Riley Park in the dark while doing a night geocache with friends
  • Finding two porcupines on Nose Hill instead of the cache we were trying to find
  • Finding a geocache underneath an old trestle bridge in Bowmont
  • Hiking around Kananaskis Village in the dark looking for a geocache while staying at the Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel

And honorable mentions for highlights has to go to the time we dug through garbage and old leaves at the Sunnyside C-Train Station (again in the dark) trying to find a micro-cache that was super hard to find!!

Geocache in the Tuscany Ravine that was well camouflaged

I have to link to my good pal Karen from Play Outside Guide again for this one and recommend you check out her blog for more on Geocaching.  Her story on Geocaching 101 has all the info. you'll need to get started. We use different apps for geocaching so check out Karen's suggestions in her story or check out my earlier suggestion for the official Groundspeak app from the apple store.

Geocaching for porcupines?? COOL!

Exploring the Bow River Pathway in Calgary on our Bikes

This one isn't perhaps as "natural" but we love riding our bikes and we have an amazing pathway system in Calgary.  One of our favourite rides is from Edworthy Park in the NW downtown to Prince's Island Park for lunch.  We hit the playground for a short visit and then bike back to Edworthy for ice-cream at Angel's Cafe.

Biking over the bridges on the Bow River Pathway is a fun way to spend an afternoon

For more on biking the Bow River Pathway, read my story for Family Fun Calgary that I wrote last summer titled:  Biking the Bow River Pathway with Kids.  And while you're out biking, make sure you bring along some toys to trade in the geocaches you'll find along the way!

Scooting is another fun way to enjoy the pathways in Calgary

Feeding Ducks, Climbing Trees, and Exploring Nature around the City

Finally, a trip to Confederation Park to feed the ducks, climb a tree or two, scoot or bike the paved pathway and visit the playground never gets old.  Just make sure to bring healthy food for the ducks if you feel the need to feed them (read what to feed ducks here.)

Chasing Ducks this Spring at Confederation Park

Want to discover a new park that you've never visited before? Check out Lori Beattie's new book Calgary's Best Walks(review to come soon)  

The City of Calgary also has a great interactive pathway map that you can even load on your phone with the mobile app.

Our Favourite Swimming Hole in Bowmont, Calgary

And finally, there's a whole page on my website devoted to our favourite hikes right here in Calgary.

Playing in the Tuscany Ravine (one of our favourite places to explore in Calgary)

So, now you know what we've been up to this spring and I hope you'll come join us on a microadventure soon! Want to get connected?  Check out these Calgary groups below and make some new friends this summer.

The Calgary Outdoor Playgroup Community (targeting families with children ages 1-5, with infant hikes as well)

The Calgary Outdoor Adventure Group for Big Kids (targeting families with children ages 6-12)

Life's More Fun with Friends


  1. Thanks so much for linking up! I linked back to this post in my Save the Slopes writeup! : )