Paskapoo Grasslands – Calgary – Hiking Alberta

Given what little remains of native land on Paskapoo Slopes, and the impending potential threat of having it largely eliminated by commercial and residential real estate development, it occurs to me the majority of my meandering over the past 30 years has been through the forested areas of the upper slopes.  Today I shall hike on the grassy, lower slopes simply because the opportunity may be limited.  A parking area near the base of the Olympic Ski Jumps is on a southerly gravel branch off the paved access road to Canada Olympic Park south of the busy intersection at the TransCanada Highway with Bowfort Road.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

One entrance at parking area near the ski jumps at Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Hiking north- east on Paskapoo Slopes at Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Nose Hill is on the far side of the valley.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Commercial development on th north side of TransCanada at Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The view east to the Calgary skyline across Paskapoo grasslands on Paskapoo Slopes east of Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Hill erosion channels spring runoff to nourish dense aspen and balsam poplar forest in the dales below.  There is evidence human activity has been busy constructing temporary dwellings complete with storage alcoves carved into vertical surfaces and an old car roof providing shelter from the elements.  At the bottom of the slope an intersection hosts a bicycle trail map near access point # 2 which documents the main routes.  The Canada Olympic Park sports complex accentuates the slopes above.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes erosion near TransCanada Highway and Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Human construction on lower Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes hiking and bicycle trails east of Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The southwest view on lower Paskapoo Slopes to the ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Trails of varying quality spread out in all directions with complex options to choose alternative exploration adventures.  My choice is an old road at valley bottom which will keep me closest to tracking the proposed development area along the TransCanada Highway.  The old road soon dwindles into forest.  Four old tires in adjacent forest make me wonder if they have anything to do with derelict cars buried in the slopes above me.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Multiple paths near the TransCanada Hwy at Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The old road (trail) travels through dense forest at the base of Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The trail disappears into forest at the base of Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Can you find the four old tires in the forest at the base of Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada?

Two old fence lines from obviously different eras disappear into wetland which forces me up to the edge of the TransCanada Highway heading east into Calgary‘s downtown core.  The wetlands to my right, which purify the water and host a wide variety of plant and animal life, would be lost to construction.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A variety of old fence lines on Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Running water and wetlands force me to the edge of TransCanada Hwy at Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Marshland at the base of Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Heading east towards the Pattison Billboard at the base of Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

At the Pattison billboard sign, a right turn and an easy ascent in mud raises me up onto an outlook above the billboard advertising over the east grasslands bordered by Sarcee Trail.  Here again there is evidence of old fencing.  The hilly return route on trail travelling west provides sweeping vistas over Paskapoo Slopes.  Many of the roads, trails and bridges which are visible now will soon be hidden when spring leaves arrive.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Grasslands at the east base of Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Trails and bridges on the return route Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Rolling hills and major drainages from the output of ancient underground springs occur at the very defined borders of grasslands.  After the water receded from a glacial formed lake thousands of years ago, and before development of the area, there is ample archeological evidence that indigenous people occupied the area.  In ancient times Paskapoo Slopes was the site of a buffalo jump.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Hiking west on higher ground grasslands at Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Approaching Canada Olympic Park on Paskapoo Slopes, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The concrete cube is an anchor for rope climbing exercise held in a summer camp.  The chair is likely left over from a cycling competition but I sat on it anyway to absorb the fantastic views while warm sun complements a refreshing breeze.  This is a grand place.  It would be a shame to lose it to development.

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The view northwest from higher ground in the grasslands of Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Trail through forested gullies for challenging cycle and hiking opportunities on Paskapoo Slopes, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Photographs for this post were taken at Paskapoo Slopes west of Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on March 19,2015.

A recent right eye vitrectomy, in an attempt to correct failed retinal detachment surgery, will limit my hiking activity for at least the next couple of months.  The existing volume of entries to my personal journals provides a broad range of hiking opportunities.  Please remember my humble work is a personal journal.  It is by no means intended to be an alternative to a good, and readily available, hiking guide and map.  Thank you for visiting.  I will be tackling new but gentle projects as soon as possible.  In the interim I will be enjoying nature on trail more suitable to the less experienced hiker.

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Cross Conservation Area – Calgary – Hiking Alberta

The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area is a 4,800 acre (1,942 hectare) parcel of donated ranch land southwest of Calgary, Alberta along Hwy 22x  at 160th Street.  Parking for the educational recreation area is 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) south of the signed intersection.  The short drive through architecturally unique mansions precludes arrival at the gravel parking area and reception booth.  The breathtaking view over prairie foothills to Calgary provides an interesting and unique perspective of the urban establishment.

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The Calgary skyline from the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The entrance sign and booth at the parking area for the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The entrance booth and interpretive plaques at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The booth contains several interpretive signs and an area map which provide the basis and reason this parcel of rolling farmland is available for public enjoyment and education. There is a sign-in ledger and a sturdy locked donation box.  The back of the entrance booth leads to a short road which curls its way uphill to Belvedere House and hiking trailheads for a variety of options.  Belvedere House is the nerve centre for tour gathering and education.  A group of young children at the back porch are vibrating with anticipation as their tour leaders prepare them for their wilderness adventure.  After a short walk to a trail junction, I arbitrarily choose to hike the Aspen Trail which cuts to the right over a field to good quality trail through long-established Aspen groves.  Trees devoid of spring leaves host early spring buds, however the leafless trees provide stunning vistas over sprawling farmland.  Each season will provide a unique outdoor experience.

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Belvedere House at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Belvedere House at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Memorial marker at the back of the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A grassy trail leads to the Aspen Grove at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The wide, clearly-defined trail through long established families of Trembling Aspen trees, punctuated by the occasional evergreen companion, hosts informative and educational interpretive plaques concerning the nature of the land and it’s relationships within the complete environment.  Clearly, this includes grazing by herds of very healthy cattle so appropriate footwear, and watching where one steps, are important.  Narrow cattle guards provide passage around locked gates.

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Corporate sponsored Interpretive plaques along the Aspen Trail at Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Narrow people passage at the side of gates at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Views along the Aspen Trail at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Views along the rolling land of the Aspen Trail in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A protected area hosts short early spring icy sections on the Aspen Trail at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Along the edge of an extended, gentle descent adjacent to icy trail, a fenced and gated area leads to an aspen-divided pasture hosting an outhouse and a rustic, wooden, dining shelter.  As the trail curls left past a small drainage, an interpretive plaque at the far side of the fenced area provides interesting information about the Great Horned Owl (Bubo Virginianus) which is Alberta‘s provincial bird.  Alberta‘s flower is the Wild Rose.

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The gate to a fenced area with outhouse and dining shelter at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The rustic, wooden dining shelter at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Wetland and a small drainage on the Aspen Trail in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The Great Horned Owl plaque at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A flat stretch across grassland leads to a trail junction with the 3 KM (1.9 mile) Paradise Trail.  Each trail junction is clearly signed and hosts a map.  I choose to continue uphill on the Aspen Trail until it intersects with the Fescue Trail.  Without any specific agenda, it is an easy decision to link on the Fescue Trail to gain elevation on the Mountain View Trail where a radio tower and benches suggest the possibility of spectacular views.  It is rewarding.

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The junction of the Paradise Trail with Aspen Trail at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Views at the Fescue Trail in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Ranch land views from the Fescue Trail in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The tower, benches and cow poop at Mountain View in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Vistas from the high point are spectacular and photographs cannot do justice to capturing the magnificent field of vision.  One must stand there and turn about.  The Rocky Mountains are capped with winter snow along the western horizon.  The surrounding land contains a wide variety of terrain over vast stretches of rolling land characteristic of the foothills dividing mountain ranges from prairies.

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The snow-capped Rocky Mountains from Mountain View at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Prairie and forest foothills from Mountain View at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A long lens view of the Calgary skyline from Mountain Trail at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Closing in on Belvedere House at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The vistas from high ground are spectacular as gentle breeze counters warm sun.  This brief and rewarding introduction to the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area has been a worthwhile experience.

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Ranch land views at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Return to the Belvedere House at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area SW of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

It is important to mention this location is not a park.  It is open to the public and accepts donations to support the cost of maintaining the facility.  There is an opportunity to volunteer time and service in the maintenance and further development of the area.  It is recommended to visit the website and reserve your hike in the event there are issues which may require rescheduling.  ‘Leave no trace’ is important here.

More than 700 properties in Canada are administered by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.  Properties range from tiny parcels to vast areas of critically important watershed.  It is worth the time to learn more about them.  As well as unique hiking opportunities there are countless opportunities to learn and volunteer in the outdoors.

Following is a brief video of work performed by the Carbon Farmer in association with One Million Trees at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area.  You may find it informative and inspiring to learn how legions of people are countering sins of the past.

Photographs for this post on the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area were taken on March 11, 2015 southwest of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

It is the last hike done before repeat emergency surgery for a detached retina on March 17.  There may be another delay before I can get back out there.

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Seventy Buck Valley – Sibbald – Hiking Alberta

Parking for Seventy Buck Valley is at roadside 4.5 KM (2.8 miles) west of the junction at Sibbald Creek Trail (Hwy 68) with Powderface Trail in Kananaskis Country.  The location is on the north side of the road across from Crane MeadowsSeventy Buck Ridge is the first ridge west of parking at roadside but I am feeling unusually masochistic on this sunny Spring day and decide to hike an off trail ascent of the ridge on the east side of Seventy Buck Creek.  There is an obvious rocky outcropping on the south face which might provide excellent views over Crane Meadows.  The bushwhack may be a good test for new glasses in challenging terrain.

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Parking for Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

My target for the day on the East side of Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Beginning the ascent above Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Simple route finding is slightly compromised by rocky drainages, however, crossings are within easy range on the sustained ascent.  Terrain varies between easy and challenging.  Snow cover in the forest increases with elevation but open spaces facilitate progress.  The alternative is navigation through dense brush.  Areas of blow down are more challenging.  Near the top of the ridge there is a large section of lichen-covered rockfall.

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Drainages on the east ridge of Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Varying snow cover on the east ridge of Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Deadfall and blow down along the ascent above Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Rockfall area near top of east ridge at Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Poor vision in ugly terrain motivates a retreat.  The alternate descent route is straightforward with the exception of one large area of blow down where the path of least resistance is a challenging climb over a jumbled maze of fallen, dead trees.  A partially frozen creek with mossy borders creates a pleasant interlude until my own tracks in the snow lead me back to the car.

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

A partially frozen, moss-surrounded creek in Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Beautiful groundcover through forest above Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Creek at Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Slightly to the west, there is an old logging road with a trail sign which reads ‘No Motorized Vehicles’ beneath the likeness of a bicycle.  Not obvious to me either.  There is time in this day to walk part of the road.

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Various sections along the east side of Seventy Buck Ridge have been logged over many years but the road is still a pleasant and scenic walk through forest.  Unfortunately, access to the trail which ascended to Seventy Buck Viewpoint has been obliterated.  Tiny new trees will repopulate areas which have been logged in the past.

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

After a couple of kilometres of easy hiking on a very gentle ascent, the snow deepens in protected areas to a point which encourages return into south views of forested foothills above Crane Meadows.

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Time to turn about in Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The view south from the logging road in Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Before the return to Calgary, it is nearly mandatory to observe the early spring beauty of Crane Meadows.  Soon the area will burst into Spring colors.  Deer Ridge provides a familiar background on the east horizon.

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

View east over Crane Meadow to the humps of Deer Ridge east of Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Crane Meadows near Seventy Buck Valley across Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Seventy Buck Valley, Sibbald Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Crane Meadows across from Seventy Buck Valley along Sibbald Creek Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Crane Meadows were originally named Warhpepan tidan (Sour Grass clearing) by Indigenous People.  Source ‘Kananaskis Country Trail Guide’, 4th Edition, Volume 2, Page 251.  From the same source, Gillean Daffern’s iconic Kananaskis Country hiking guide informs the name, Seventy Buck, originated many years ago when rancher Percy Copithorn, searching for stray cattle on snow covered ground, lost a wallet containing 70 dollars.  Perhaps the wallet is still out there.  It was not found on this day.

My new glasses fail the day’s test.  Perhaps a flawed prescription.  Possibly a longer learning curve.  Frustrating in either case.

Early Spring photographs for this post were taken on Monday, March 9, 2015 in the Sibbald Creek area of Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

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