Hidden Gems of Calgary: Part 1

Posted on September 1, 2018

A little over a week ago, some of the Green Calgary staff went on a hike together to Twelve Mile Coulee as part of a team building exercise. While we were walking, between identifying birds or plants, we talked about Twelve Mile Coulee itself.

Of our 6 participants, about half had been to Twelve Mile Coulee before, some more than others, and the other three had either only heard of it or not at all! So, naturally, we started to talk about other hidden gems in the city. Parkland or urban wild spaces that we've discovered or that we go to all the time, that others might not have heard of.

What was impressive is that no one had complete knowledge of all the places mentioned. Some people knew more or less of these hidden gems of Calgary, but nobody knew all of them!

We decided to share 5 with you in the Urban Park category, but we hope to continue the series later with other hidden gems of Calgary. Here are 5 hidden gems in Calgary: Parks Edition!

1. Twelve Mile Coulee: Of course this would be on the list, it's what inspired us, after all! This natural area separating Tuscany and Scenic Acres includes a large number of hiking trails, biking trails, off-leash areas, and more. We saw at least 10 different species of birds, including an osprey carrying a fish from the river! Once you're down near the bottom of the coulee, it's almost like you aren't in the city at all anymore!
2. Fish Creek Park: Not exactly hidden itself, Fish Creek does hide many secrets! It's the second largest urban park in Canada and one of the biggest in North America. Even if you've been to one part of the park, it's so big that it contains many different kinds of environment. With 80 kilometres of trails, you could explore the place for years. It also includes a beach, restaurant, and the wonderful Friends of Fish Creek Society organizes tons of events in the park! 
3. Carburn Park: A bit more hidden than the last two if you're not from its part of the city, this park is accessed through the Riverbend community and boasts trails, boating, and fishing! It's also a beautiful spot for birdwatching!
4. Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs: A true hidden gem, these beautiful gardens are nestled right in city parkland in Silver Springs, and include a number of different garden patches. On their website, you can see a map of the planting beds, as well as what is planted in each, so if there's a particular flower you want to see, you could look it up! A really cool park and resource if you've never checked it out before.
5. River Park Sandy BeachThese interconnected pieces of parkland are all popular destinations on their own, but together they make up an impressive piece of green space! In fact, they're just the biggest parks in this network, there are more! Some staff told me that they liked being in this park because you could forget that you were in the city at all, and I have fond memories of the day camp along the river from when I was a child. There's much to explore, including all the adjacent parks, you'll be at it for years!

Honourable Mentions by our Team:
North Glenmore Park / South Glenmore Park WeaselheadA well-known urban park, but worth the mention. If you've never been there, prepare to be amazed! Especially the protected Weaselhead Flats area. Truly spectacular.
Edworthy Park: Another massive chunk of parkland, you can hike from the river floor to the top of the hill, and the view is worth it! The Douglas Fir Trail is also very beautiful. 

We know there are so many more that we've missed! Even the little ones in peoples' neighbourhoods can be impressive! What hidden parks have you found? Get in touch with us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram and tell us your secret spots!

This article was originally posted in the August 25th newsletter. Want to read blogs like this earlier? Sign up for the newsletter!