Sunday, June 14, 2015

Calgary's Best Walks and Nature Strolls with Lori Beattie

If you aren't familiar with Lori Beattie's work, she's a Calgary author and has been walking her way across our awesome city in a quest to find the best urban places to explore on foot.  Along the way you might find your dream neighborhood to live in, you'll most certainly find a new favourite coffee shop (chances are it will have warm out-of-the-oven cinnamon buns for the kids,) and odds are pretty high you'll discover a new playground, off-leash area, green space, or environmental park to fall in love with.

We love hiking around Calgary and have been using  Lori's books to guide our footsteps over the past ten years in the city.  And true story:  I think my son has had a nap on almost every trail in Lori's original book while I scouted out new places to explore with the Chariot in the early years of being a mom.  Since then, we've hiked many of the trails in Lori's first book with our Outdoor Playgroup Community and have used it as a resource guide for the best family hikes close to home.

Exploring Calgary's Best Natural Areas and Parks

Lori's original book, Calgary's Best Hikes and Walks, has been invaluable to me and I'm excited to help her promote her newest book and sequel:  Calgary's Best Walks (35 brand new urban jaunts and nature strolls.)  Both books are great but the new one stands out with original art work, vibrant maps and photos, and some great new walks that have been recently added since the first version.

I could tell you about all of my favourite walks in Calgary but I figured perhaps I should let the expert herself tell you about her favourite walks instead.  I asked Lori to share with us her top 5 Favourite hikes for families in Calgary. 

Lori Beattie's Top 5 Family Hikes from "Calgary's Best Walks" Guidebook

Jackrabbit Trail, Glenmore Reservoir, SW

There is no Wi-Fi in the forest but trust me you’ll find a better connection.  This secret single-track wilderness gem is hidden below the very popular paved Glenmore Pathway. The dirt trail rolls along tucked into the trees with wonderful reservoir views. Kids love the chickadees that land on your hands. They also love the chance to stop at Glenmore landing for a pre or post walk treat. 

Hiking on the Jackrabbit Trail (photo:  Calgary Outdoor Playgroups)

Downtown Art Walk and River Walk, SW/SE

A public art treasure hunt is hands on and fun for kids. Create you own route based on which pieces of art you would like to see. Head north to Princes Island, the Bow River and the East Village River Walk or walk south to Memorial Park and 17 Avenue. Food trucks outside of the Bow Building and Memorial Park make a great mid-walk stop and for the teenagers in the group, a walk along 17 Avenue is sure to please. This people-populated street is full of energy.

Downtown Art Walk (photo:  Lori Beattie)

Briar Hill and Hounsfield Heights, NW

Single-track green space trails, varied and at times, quirky architecture, creative gardens, secret walkers-only connecting paths, the Bow River Pathway and a natural area park climb to spectacular downtown views. All this plus gelato and a diner stop with burgers and shakes! The variety on this urban walkabout keeps the kids happy!

Funky house in Briar Hill (photo:  Lori Beattie)

Sandy Beach, Elbow Park and Britannia, SW

Starting at a playground, you soon move past Sandy Beach. Kids love to rock skip and play in the shallow Elbow River during the summer and fall. A climb up the Britannia Slopes leads to Village Ice Cream Shop at Britannia Plaza and coffee options for the adults in two. Or stay low along the river and soak up the canopied streets of Riverdale Avenue. The Riverdale pedestrian bridge leads to Elbow Park and up the hidden staircase to Saskatoon covered slope trails through a mini natural area park. Eat your way along the trail throughout August when the berries are ripe. Travel through River Park off leash on the return loop and pat a few pooches before descending back to the river.

Playing in the Elbow River at Sandy Beach (photo:  Calgary Outdoor Playgroups)

Fish Creek Park, Bow Valley Ranch, SE

Annie’s Café! Artisan Gardens! Mule Deer! Wildflower meadows! Beaver Lodges!  All of these things make a walk from Bow Valley Ranch in Fish Creek Park a family favourite. Follow paved or shale pathways, play in Fish Creek, check out the beaver lodges and watch for the mule deer. At the end of it all you can enjoy lunch or a treat at Annie’s Café or bring your own picnic and settle in anywhere in the park to soak up the natural wonders of Calgary. 

Playing in Fish Creek near Bow Valley Ranch (photo:  Calgary Outdoor Playgroups)

For more information on Lori's new book, visit her website at Calgary's Best Walks.  Lori's book can be purchased off her website or at book stores around the city.  A complete list of bookstores can be found here

Lori's Guide Book will help you find spots like this in Calgary

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