Paskapoo Slopes – Calgary – Hiking Alberta

From my fifth floor living room window in Calgary, I look directly across the TransCanada Hwy to Calgary Olympic Park perched on the side of Paskapoo Ridge.   A quick and short drive delivers me to a gravel parking area near the beginning of Sarcee Trail at Hwy 1.  It is a  cool, sunny, blue sky, winter day, perfect for discovering new trails on Paskapoo Slopes.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A mountain biking trail sign near trail beginning is of some benefit for the general layout of major trails but I soon discover these bicycle routes, with interesting names like Jaw Bone and Squatter, represent a small portion of the complex labyrinth of paths interlacing the rolling grassland and forest on Paskapoo Ridge.  My intent, this day, is to hike progressively higher and to the west towards the Canada Olympic Park Ski area for fresh air, exercise and excellent views north, west and east towards Calgary Downtown.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

My target is clearly visible above my current elevation to the west.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

There is a nearly endless selection of trail possibilities as I climb towards the ski jumps beside snow-sculptured grassland bordered by stubby forest and the occasional tall evergreen tree.  The upward transition is from grassland to progressively taller forest.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Naturally occurring ‘snow bumps’, wind-created moguls in forest at trailside.

Along the way, an occasional trail marker shows current location along the selection of mountain biking circuits.  It is a popular summer trail system for mountain biking by individuals or groups.  Excellent summer camps and skill development courses are hosted by Winsport out of Canada Olympic Park.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Trails rollercoaster up and over grassy hills into valleys with streams.  Often the trails are bordered by stubborn, old, wooden fence posts, frequently standing at precarious angles, feigning determination to maintain some semblance of dignity in the struggle to support rusty and tangled strands of barbed wire from days long gone.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The day is warming and bright sun is causing snow melt and creek flow under minimal bridges placed for well-balanced, accurately aimed cycle and pedestrian traffic.  Expansive views to the north unfold as I gain elevation.  The living room window of my dwelling is clearly visible to me.  I would wave to myself if I was home.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Along the way, I discover the occasional snow-covered glacial erratic deposited here, many thousands of years ago, as ice receded and Paskapoo Ridge was formed.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A glacial erratic along the trail traverse to the west toward Calgary Olympic Park

Evidence of summer mountain biking activity rests at trail side in anticipation of summer trails free of snow and ice.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A homemade bike ramp at trailside waits beside a person-hole cover for spring to arrive.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

About two-thirds of the way up the ridge, I turn right onto a flat trail through forest and stumble upon an unexpected and interesting discovery.  It is not obvious to me how the old cars could have gotten here.  There is no remaining evidence of an old road.  The more visible of the two is immediately at trailside.  The smaller car behind it is almost fully submerged into the creek surrounding it.  There must be an interesting story here but I have no idea what it might be.  Perhaps someone who reads this may know and gift a few minutes to enlighten us with a comment.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I shall return here for a better look, on my mountain bike, in the summer.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The final stretch of trail, leading to the west end of the ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park, is through trailside trees draped over to form a tunnel.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I exit the forest to a landscaping and road maintenance storage area beside the west end of the ski jumps and decide this will be a good place to turn around and begin completion of a long loop.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I drop to lower elevation at the first trail descent and get some excellent views north to the Bowness and Montgomery Communities, on the other side of Hwy 1, and west to Canada Olympic Park.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Another rusty wreck, this time an overturned truck at trailside, seems to be functioning as a geographical or property line marker.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

There are excellent views across Canada Olympic Park as I transition from forest back to grassy hills.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, CanadaPaskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A graffiti laden and derelict old trailer lies abandoned on a ridge top overlooking Canada Olympic Park.

The thick, knotted, yellow rope attached to the large concrete block may be waiting patiently for summer adventure campers to make a rope-assisted descent of the steep grade below.  The plentiful number of oddities here fires up the imagination.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

My turn east heads me back towards Calgary.  The trails I pick and choose do not always behave as I expect.  Apparent routes frequently offer hidden changes in direction.  Soon, I begin to enjoy great views of the Calgary City skyline.  Another colorful view is the Alberta Children’s Hospital near the University of Calgary complex in Calgary’s northwest.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The Calgary city skyline from Paskapoo Slopes just west of Canada Olympic Park

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The Alberta Children’s Hospital photographed from Paskapoo Ridge near Canada Olympic Park

To avoid some of the fluctuating ascent and descent on the final approach to the parking area, I carefully navigate offtrail on a relatively straight-line route through grasslands and interesting drainage channels.  Near the end, a short distance off the road, I discover a rusty, old, conveyor ramp across a ditch surrounded by dense brush.  It appears it may have been an old dig or mining operation of some kind.  So many mysteries.

Paskapoo Ridge - Canada Olympic Park - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

It has been a fascinating day and I arrive home with eager anticipation of return visits for more discovery, without snow, while training on the mountain bike for my inaugural trip this summer of the 26 KM (16.3 mile), one-way Banff Legacy bicycle trail along the TransCanada Highway in Banff National Park.

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16 Responses to Paskapoo Slopes – Calgary – Hiking Alberta

  1. Barry
    You just made me want to head to Canada even more. The snow looks so beautiful, what a fantastic way to spend a day.
    In Brisbane (Australia) we never see snow, it would be close to a miracle if it did ever snow here.
    Jealous
    Rene’

    • Thank you for your comment, Rene’. We see many of your ‘down under’ colleagues here in Canada. Australians have a reputation here for being among the most travelled on the planet. Please come to vist us here in Canada the first opportunity you have. We always have a bit of snow to share. In the summer we may have to work fairly hard to get to it at higher elevations. Calgary, where I live, is surrounded by a wide variety of diverse terrain which provide many varied adventures. We are short on tropical beaches.

      • rene@landscaper brisbane says:

        Too true,
        Us Ozzies are the adventurous type. We’re all chasing a bit of adventure and excitement.
        I think you can get enough of tropical beaches after awhile.
        I’ll definitely be visiting Canada soon. My partner loves snowboarding and I’m sure he won’t object :)

  2. Charrmagn says:

    The snow really looks beautiful…I’ve never been to Canada and this makes me think to book a flight this year…
    Charrmagn recently posted..livia condo

    • There is plenty to see here in Canada. Great diversity. Personally I tend to favor the mountains, The Pacific Coast and the Atlantic Coast. There is no preference which cannot be satisfied from cosmopolitan to remote wilderness. I hope you create the opportunity to come and see for yourself. There are many parts of the planet I would like to visit as well. Thanks for your comment, Charrmagn.

  3. Leigh says:

    Looks like an interesting outing if you don’t have time to head for the hills- especially on a fresh snow day. There are some pretty nice views along the way too. I didn’t even know they were there so thanks for that info Barry.
    Leigh recently posted..5 Great Bike Rides in Newfoundland, PEI and Nova Scotia

    • No doubt it is very convenient for me and I like to promote local recreational areas that are easy to access. I will spend more time there in the spring, with my mountain bike, getting ready for more aggressive rides in the mountains. Thanks for your comment, Leigh. Always good to hear from you. I enjoyed your recent post on great bike rides in Newfoundland. I must get to that place.

  4. Sandra says:

    Your photos are always so amazing and I feel so homesick for Calgary! It is a pity the old cars were not restored. Perhaps it is too late. On another note, I have tried contacting the rock hounds club in Calgary, (no luck so far), about finding selenite crystals (hourglass) from Willow Creek. I want to give our geology department a presentation because the area south of Calgary has so many unique geological sites. What I want to know is how people find the crystals – are they in the mud and only by Chain Lakes? Does anyone have photos of the process? Look forward as usual to your next account. Many thanks, Sandy.

    • Thank you for your comment, Sandra. Yes those cars, I am guessing, from the 1940′s were certainly the pride of someone sometime. I have a feeling the horizontal traverse I was on at the time was once an old road. Although heavily overgrown now, it may have been wide enough at one tiem to transport a vehicle. Otherwise it is not immediately obvious how those old cars ended up there. I am going to return there in late spring or early summer, when the snow is gone, and have a better look at the situation. The documented history on Paskapoo Slopes dates back more than 3,000 years. It is a historically significant site. Unfortunately, it is also valuable real estate. There is an ongoing conflict between preservationists and developers. Hopefully, it will remain the valuable recreational resource it has become. As for the selenite, Sandra, I do not know. There have been so many times, when I have been in the mountains, I have wished I had a geologist with me. There are so many interesting formations and rocks. I simply enjoy them for their aesthetic value. Hopefully the rock collector organizations will be able to help you, or a reader of hikingwithbarry, that stumbles across the comment. Good luck.

  5. June says:

    Hello, Barry. Long time, no write. I’ve been lurking but not blogging. This blog about Paskapoo caught my attention because the existence of Paskapoo was recently revealed to me in an out-of-date book by James Martin called “Calgary: Secrets of the City”, pub. 1999. The reason Paskapoo is so noteworthy is that it was a buffalo jump, just like Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. I was shattered to discover that the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta allowed developers to ravage this site. I’ve since done a bit of research into the archeological significance of the site, and the more I learn, the more appalled I am that this site has been ruined for the sake of COP and a recreation area, as if there wasn’t enough historically insignificant available land all round us where recreation facilities and residential developments could have been built. These developers and the local authorities that enable them to destroy historically significant sites are worse than Philistines. Paskapoo, in its pristine rusticity, was far more valuable to the city, the province and the world than it is now. And, as if that isn’t enough to make my head explode, the latest I’ve read about Paskapoo is that COP wants to build a condominium development on that recreational land between COP and the Trans-Canada Highway in order to make generate yet more money. Go figure.
    June recently posted..Swiss chard and strawberry spinach smoothie

    • Thank you for the book reference, June. I shall check it out. Sounds very interesting. I believe it would be wise to preserve what little remains of Paskapoo Slopes from further development. It is an inner city resource, like Nose Hill or Fish Creek Park, which is valuable for all the people. It should be saved from the few people and organizations interested in little more than turning a buck. Enough is enough. There is an organization in Calgary devoted to preserving Paskapoo Slopes. With sufficient support they can make the offenders too visible to succeed.

  6. Marcin says:

    Okay, I admit it: as seen from the Trans-Canada Highway, Paskapoo Slopes never looked appealing to me. That is until we visited it today, after reading your excellent blog post. Thank you for the great photos and informative descriptions!
    Marcin recently posted..Elbow Valley / Riverview Loop

    • Agreed. It’s a bit of a sleeper and not much to look at from the bottom but once you get in there, Paskapoo Slopes contain a broad variety of trail that suits a wide range of fitness and terrain with forest privacy or broad sweeping vistas to the mountains, across Bowness and Montgomery, or towards the downtown Calgary City skyline. It is very spectacular in Spring with new glossy leaves and spring flowers. Ideal for hiking or mountain biking. I hope it is not encroached upon any further. The history of Paskapoo is significant to the development of Calgary and the hill contains many sites and artifacts worthy of protection. Thanks for your endorsement of the beauty of the area and for your kind comments, Marcin.

      BTW, it was your posts which inspired me to recently explore Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park near Cochrane, Alberta. It is a good hiking and educational experience. So, right back atcha.

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