In Calgary we are very fortunate to have been gifted the largest provincial park within the limits of any city in Canada. Within the boundaries of the 1348+ hectares of land in Fish Creek Park there are several interesting geologic formations that identify the geologic history of the area as well as coniferous and deciduous forests, grasslands, oxbow wetlands, year-round springs, the Bow River and of course approximately 19 kilometers of Fish Creek snaking through the park.
These habitats provide homes and food for a fantastic array of fish, fowl and wildlife. The varieties of wildflowers, native grasses, berries and wildflowers is extensive. There is much to discover in this calm and serene setting for everyone of any age with any interest.
And it’s free!
There is much to be seen and enjoyed at the East End of Fish Creek Park. To jump right into the nature part of your experience you would follow Bow Bottom Trail south until it turns into a small 2-way, asphalt road riddled with pot holes (you are now in the provincial park). The speed limit is 30 kmph due not only to the condition of the roadway but also in respect for the abundance of wildlife that is in the trees and shrubs that line the road and the bicycle riders who are utilizing the numerous bike paths through the park.
Should your interests lie in the history of the park you would take the first turn on your right into the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Center. Currently the Visitor’s Center is closed, however, the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant and Annie’s Café are open along with all the trails in this area. The Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant offers exquisite fine dining while Annie’s serves up an array of sandwiches, coffee and hand scooped ice cream cones. Information regarding menus, opening times, availability, booking events and reservations for both businesses can be obtained at www.bowvalleyrancherestaurant.com.
When leaving the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Center, you would turn right and continue south on the road towards Sikome Lake. Take the first left turn before the road forks turning into the Hull’s Wood picnic area. There are many roomy picnic spaces nestled in the shady meadow complete with tables and fire pits. Restrooms are open and parking is ample.
From Hull’s Wood you can hike or bike the many pathways and trails through the deciduous shade and shrubs to the edge of the Bow River. Looking directly across the river you can see a very large group of white pelicans nesting and feasting on the largesse the river provides.
Listening carefully and observing closely you can enjoy the many other species of wildlife that inhabit the park from the white-tailed deer, beaver, fox, coyote and weasel to the owls, woodpeckers, goldeneye ducks, sandpipers and common mergansers. As well, wildflower enthusiasts are treated to a multitude of varieties of colourful. fragrant. flowers and foliage.
Fish Creek Park, east end, is a lovely uncrowded destination within city limits where a day or even a few hours can be enjoyed discovering the bounty of nature at our doorsteps.