April 11, 2018
Think you need to venture off to Kananaskis Country or head off to Banff to get some real trail running in? Think again. Calgary’s sprawling quadrant set-up means there are plenty of inviting parks within city limits with beautiful trails. There are great options for beginners or even seasoned runners, each accessible by transit or car-share.
Bring your favourite run buddy with you, double check car-share parking zones and make sure you’re set up with all the trail essentials for safety. Now, just pick your park or pathway.
1. Nose Hill Park
Covering 11sq. km of the city’s NW, Nose Hill Park has a fantastic mix of trails that work for newbies or pros. Get in your hill work by running up to the top and take in views of the city, Rocky Mountains and Bow River Valley, then split off on one of many singletrack routes or stick to the main gravel path to traverse the park.
- **Transit to the trails:**Several bus routes encircle Nose Hill. The Moovit App has a helpful trip planner to get you there from locations around the city. There are several parking lots along 14 Street, one at John Laurie Boulevard and Brisbois Drive, and one at Shaganappi Trail and Edgemont Boulevard, all which would require a stopover if you’re using car share.
- Good to know: The singletrack routes lean on the steep side, so stick to the gravel if you’re still finding your pace. Nose Hill also doesn’t have a ton of shade, so make sure you have covered your bases in terms of sun protection. The park is dog-friendly but may require leashes.
2. Edworthy Park
Red dirt paths and dramatic views of the Bow River from the top of park bluffs are just two of the perks of trail running in Edworthy Park. This SW greenspace follows the southern bank of the Bow and is home to a trail-run favourite, the Douglas Fir Trail, which runs up stairs and paths through dense wooded escarpment and crosses natural springs. Fun fact: creeping trees along the escarpment have earned the area the nickname “the drunken forest” and some are around 500 years old.
- **Transit to the trails:**Bus routes 1 and 40 stop along Bowness Road on the north side of the park, while the 93 runs along Spruce Drive at the park’s southwest end. The car2go home zone includes parking along Spruce Drive and on the north side of the river.
- Good to know: The escarpment in Edworthy is roughly 60m high and very steep. If you’re looking to tackle these tougher trails, make sure you wear some very grippy trail shoes. The park has some off-leash areas for your pooch, too.
3. 4. and 5. Baker, Bowness and Bowmont Parks
Okay, technically three parks, but a couple pedestrian bridges turn these green spaces right on the Bow River into one awesome interconnected mega-park. The three Bs are strung together by the Bow River Pathway (BRP) – a fun paved route that will lead you to some lush and lesser-known trails.
Start in Baker, take the BRP west to the pedestrian bridge under Stoney Trail, cross and continue to head west. The path will lead you into some sweet singletrack behind Valley Ridge. When you’re ready, turn around, this time stay south and run through Bowness, across the 85 Street bridge, and up to Bowmont Park, where some challenging singletrack awaits.
- **Transit to the trails:**The 40 and the 725 buses stop at 87 Street and Nose Hill Drive, a short walk or warm-up run from the entrance to Baker Park. Otherwise, the 1 stops right at the entrance of Bowness Park on the south side. Parking lots are available on both sides of the park – you’ll need to commit to a stopover if you’re using car2go.
- **Good to know:**If you’re not interested in switching it up between trails and pavement, head straight to Bowmont Park and try out the steep drops and climbs on the Sideshow Bob trail, not to mention fun stairs and boardwalks.
6. Fish Creek Park
Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of the largest urban parks in Canada, and with over 80km of trails to explore, it’s a sweet spot for trail runners of any ability. This beautiful (and big) urban park in Calgary’s south will take you through grassland, wooded forest and alongside creeks and riverbanks. There are flat trails for beginner trail runners to get a feel for off-roading, while more seasoned runners can find plenty of elevation change on marked trails.
- Transit to the trails: Parking is available throughout the park and the LRT line stops within the park limits. This Fish Creek trail map (pdf) shows transit stops, washrooms and pathways throughout the park.
- **Good to know:**If you’re looking for some shade on a hot day, stick to the west side of Macleod Trail, where there’s more trees.
7. South Glenmore Park
Glenmore Reservoir is wrapped in parkland, including North Glenmore Park, Weaselhead Flats, and South Glenmore Park, all which make for lots of running options and beautiful water views. South Glenmore Park’s Jackrabbit Trail is a pavement-to-pathway route that features roots, rocks, fallen trees, and challenging dips in elevation.
- Transit to the trails: The 79, 80 and 780 buses all stop near the 24 Street entrance to South Glenmore Park. If you are bringing your own wheels or grabbing car share, you’ll find parking at the same entrance.
- **Good to know:**Once you master the Jackrabbit, follow the singletrack trail to Weaselhead Flats environmental park for a more extensive trail system that’s also good for hiking.