Big Hill Springs – Places to Run (or not)

I’m not sure if the “Big Hill” at these natural springs is the hill that I ran since there are bigger hills around, but the hill that I ran was big enough for this short loop. At least it was steep enough. It was definitely a “hiking only” hill.

The park really is very small, with the looped trail only being 2 km long. I hadn’t realized how short the trail was when I planned this run. So I did the loop 8 times to get in 15 km and 400m of elevation gain. My legs were definitely feeling the downhill by the time I ended.

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The park is often very busy with 20+ cars in the parking lot, especially on sunny weekends for the picnic’ers who don’t want to go far from Calgary but want to experience the outdoors. Running the trail then would be very frustrating. On the sunniest days, the kids wade in the water and every open space is used up for picnics, baby strollers, and dogs.

But I had picked a Friday after work when the rain was threatening at any time. So there were only 5 cars in the lot making the trail very quiet. I had lucked upon a good time to go and I even stayed dry.

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The first kilometer of the loop is along this creek that pops out of the ground at several mineral springs. The water isn’t warm, but it is full of minerals and used to be very popular with those seeking the health benefits of mineral baths.

I loved listening to the quiet, to the creek, and being out of the wind in this protected valley.

I’ve noticed that other runner and biking bloggers talk about following the creek from this park for the 20 km downstream to Cochrane. Unfortunately, even though there is a truck trail, it is provincial road allowance, the adjacent landowner has been grumpy for many years and is insistent on the “No Trespassing” through that general area including the road allowance. It looks like it could be a great place to run but alas, I didn’t go for it this time around giving the “crochety farmer” a wide berth.

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I only went off the trail on one loop and went across this make-shift bridge (and stayed dry)

I can’t say this is normally a great place to run. I was lucky that there were no crowds, but that doesn’t happen often. And the loop was only 2 km with not much else in the area to extend it. But the serenity, the creek, and the trees made this a great run for me this time.

Located 1/2 hour west of Calgary near Cochrane at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park

Places to Run – Nose Creek Park

It was a beautiful day today for an afternoon run in the brisk cold air on a sunny day. I had a small window to get my run in between errands. After dropping someone off at the airport I picked a park I don’t often go to near the airport.

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This park, Nose Creek park, has mostly flat trails in a large open space but it is surrounded by subdivisions.

At this time of year the trails can be a bit tough and uneven, but I wasn’t in a hurry.

There were a bunch of dogs and their people out today but mostly it was a pretty quiet lonely trail.

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I definitely bundled up today even with no wind.
-15C and sunny.

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Nose Creek park is very popular with cyclists in the summer and walkers in the winter. Access and parking is not great since it is accessed off some big roads. But I guess that’s what keeps it a little less busy.

Today was 8.9km with 100m elevation going in and out of the small valley along the creek, mostly staying off the pavement. Trails through the fields are way more fun.

Run Streak Day 29

Edworthy Park Trails – Places to Run

The paved pathways at Edworthy Park in Calgary are is a go-to for most all running groups in the area. But there is so much more than just paved pathways. But it seems few people are discovering the gems found right in the city.

There is a whole bunch of single track too. You just need to step of the pavement and head several meters closer to the river and you will find some great trails. They aren’t as long as you might want want wilderness running, and there are no hills on the north side of the river. But they are much quieter than the alternative hard surface. This morning I found almost no runners and I couldn’t hear the nearby road. And if you go to the south side of the river the trails are more than you’d expect. Lots to explore.

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My run this morning was the 10km loop between the two pedestrian bridges plus the 4 km run to get to and from the park. I ran counter clockwise which obviously was against the flow of most other runners. Either way works for me.

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There seems to have been construction at least somewhere on this loop for the last 8 years I have been running it. Between upgrades, park renovations, and river flooding, there is always something to work on, it seems. But the city prioritizes the pathway for commuters leaving it mostly open most of the time.

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These trails are some of my most run trails because of how easy it is to get there from home, and how nice it is to run along a river.

Between the freeway and the tracks

We have this linear trail along the irrigation canal that obviously is very long and flat. So it is ideal for those long runs.

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West side of irrigation canal

However it parallels the freeway and the railroad tracks through the industrial park. So the setting is not ideal. You really have to zone out to enjoy yourself.

Today on my way out I followed the paved pathway on the west side getting annoyed at how loud the freeway noise was. I noticed the single track along the east side and thought I would try to come back on that side.

When I returned along the other side the noise seemed to just disappear. It was probably that I was just lost in my own world on the windy trail.

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Crossing tracks which lead to downtown

There were very few access points. It was basically 9 km between proper access points where you didn’t have to jump a fence or go through some industrial parking lot. I started at the Bow Waters Canoe Club and turned around at the Glenmore Inn.

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East side of irrigation canal

A couple of the freeway underpasses were a little sketchy with loud traffic above me.

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Another thing that would improve the view was if the irrigation canal was actually full. There was construction happening downstream so it was mostly empty with some ducks playing in the puddles and mud.

I don’t think I would recommend this as a great place to run. There were bikes on the trail and for them it probably wasn’t too far between access points.

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So my run was 18 km with almost no vertical. About 3/4 was on pavement and the last 1/4 was beautiful single track on the lonely side of the canal.

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Starting at the canoe club going south towards the Glenmore Inn

It was my longest run in a while and I felt good about it. My knees are complaining now but they will get over it.

I had promised myself a slurpee after the run (for motivation) but I decided to skip that. I shouldn’t reneg on my promises or I will start to doubt those promises and the motivation won’t work so well next time.

Fish Creek Park – places to run

One of the classic linear parks around here follows a creek for the entire width of the city. I would guess the park is maybe 20 km long by 1 km wide.

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One of the access points to Fish Creek Park is at Votiers Flats near the center of the park. From here you can go either west or east. I chose West. Maybe next time I will go East. It should be quite similar.

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You can follow the paved pathway along the entire length but I chose to follow the lesser trails mostly right along the waters edge and deeper in the trees.

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Corduroy trails in a couple spots

Most of the trails are bike friendly so I had to keep paying attention. I ran into the same biker three times over about half an hour. Each time he was obviously trying to work up some adrenaline by going very fast on narrow trails. Keep your head up!

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Some friendly spectators

The water was hardly moving since we have barely had rain this month (or last month).

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These photos are from last weekend and as you can see winter hadn’t shown it’s face much. But as I write this a week later, snow has blanketed our city of Calgary and the temperature has dropped to well below freezing. So that run may have been my last snow free run in a while.

My run was about 13 km. I was able to run mostly on one side of the creek going west and the other on the return. And I was able to stay off the pavement for the most part.

Weasel Head Flats – places to run

During most months of the summer this park is swarming with mosquitos which ensures you don’t take walk breaks. The bugs are relentless.

Weasel head flats is an nature preserve in a wetlands area in SW Calgary. Today as the last day of October, it was threatening rain but definitely no bugs and almost no mud.

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Sometimes the trails can be very muddy. Today they were a little wet in a few places but my shoes didn’t even get muddy.

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One reason this area was very quiet was because of construction. It actually was a long detour (couple kms) to get to the parking lot, so the parking lot was mostly empty. Construction lasts all winter so this might be a nice quiet place to run until then.

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From the parking lot there is about 1km of paved pathway to get to the trail head. The trail goes down to the river edge maybe 30m vertical on steep trail. After that it is mostly dead flat on gravel and dirt trails.

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I zigzagged through this park and made it a 10 km route but it was tough not to double back to get in the mileage. It really isn’t that big a place on the east side of the river.

The trails can get pretty small, to the point that it is impossible to run with all the branches in your face. The trails right along the river are meant for walking slowly due to the numerous zigzags. So the best trails are the straightest ones, and the ones with the least amount of gravel. I like to stay on the non-improved trails as much as possible, but it wasn’t always possible in this park.

Great trail system for a quiet run right in the city, as long as it is a bug free season.

Lost in Griffith’s Woods

Trails with NO HILLS!  That doesn’t happen very often around here.

Griffith Woods is a city park in Calgary with lots of trail types but notably no elevation change. It follows the wetlands adjacent to Elbow River so some trails can get wet.

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The entrance to the park seemed a little ominous to me with signage like this. Especially on the week before Halloween. Good thing it wasn’t getting dark yet.

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I intended to stay off the paved trail and this was possible. And then I determined to stick to single track. That’s where it got a little wild since the single track seemed quite aimless in direction.

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I got lost here. Well not exactly lost but the trail didn’t go in the direction I wanted. I should have stayed to a more main trail. There was this linear pond that I was trying to get around and there was only a deer trail along the waters edge. Lots of thistles too.

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The route I took was not very direct as I noticed from my Strava map after the run. It ended up being 10k taking just over an hour.

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Lots of other walkers out on the main trail but I stayed off that.

Overall it was a great run and I will have to head that way again.

Trail Feature – Nosehill Park Circuit

Nosehill park is a mainstay of trail running in Calgary. The view is very open as you can see in these photos but in one run the terrain can vary significantly.

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I don’t very often get out here since it is not quite close enough to home.

I like it because on a clear day you can see both the snow peaked Rockies and the downtown towers. And you can always find a lonely trail.

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It really is an odd park in that it is this huge expanse of prairie surrounded by the suburbs. It is not even close to the edge of Calgary anymore. In the 70s it was decidedly outside the city but not anymore. This city is exploding.

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On my one run today I ran on so many types of trails but mostly on single track packed dirt. There are some gravel pathways and a paved pathway around the whole thing.

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A trip around the outside of the park is at least 10km long depending on your route. My route today was 12 km with 250m of elevation gain.

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I don’t think there are moose in the park anymore but there are definitely deer and coyotes. Unfortunately I didn’t see any today. The weather was much too nice and the were too many dogs out on and off leashes.

It is a great place to almost forget you are in a city and to get a great trail run in.

Sand, Sidewalks, and Trails – Running Lakeshore Drive

Tip: go early to beat the tourists.

Tourists swarm the beaches of Lake Okanagan from the late morning into the evening. So to get the best running experience, go early, or pick a cold day.

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I was running along the beach by 9:00 on a weekday and it was very quiet. I started at one end of the beach, running along the beach side pathway, along the pier, past the out door patios of the hotels, along the marina, and past the tennis courts to the natural treed area along the waterfront behind. On the way back I ran through some of the residential area and then along the beach again to get back to the start.

The city has done a great job with the waterfront, keeping it accessible and clean, and open to all types of users.

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I turned around at the 5 k mark making this a 10k run with absolutely no vertical and absolutely no wind.

A weekend on the trails

Bowmont park is either a paved pathway full of bikers and walkers or quiet single track trails. I usually choose the unmarked trails to stay away from the crowds. But on these quiet trails you often find a biker, or a dog, or a worried dog owner without a dog. Getting past them can change it up just enough to keep me from zoning out too far.

It was a beautiful day for a run. Conditions couldn’t have been better. And I got it done before it got too hot.

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It was my last longest run before the race so I was glad to get it over with. It surprised me how much I didn’t want to finish this run.

Today lots of people were floating down the river in their rafts, soaking up the sun. I wanted to be with them instead. But I am glad I got through it.

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