Historical Paskapoo Slopes guards secrets in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Note: Current 2016 - 2017 construction has sadly obliterated many access options for this dwindling inner-city wilderness sanctuary and research will be necessary to find ways to enjoy what little remains of this historic landmark. This post remains as a nostalgic reminder of what once was.
The swamp hosting a stand of bulrushes is alive with the sound of rubbing insect wings and hidden amphibious creatures enjoying the sun's warmth. The walk along the bicycle path from Bowness to Canada Olympic Park will lead to enjoying a couple of fascinating features on Paskapoo Slopes which is an ancient lateral moraine created thousands of years ago when massive glaciers and Glacier Lake retreated from the area where the City of Calgary now resides and prospers.
Today's objective is a hike up the gravel road east of, and adjacent to, Calgary Olympic Park. Past the small parking area on the left and the open iron gates, is the interesting Highland Scottish Gift Shoppe which deserves a visit before retreating downhill to hike east on trail just beyond the entrance gate. Within a kilometer (⅝ of a mile) are two derelict vehicles, rusting and long stripped of any useful parts. The smaller of the two old cars is partially submerged in a spring-fed pond. The old derelict vehicles are a source of fascination and begs wondering how they came to be here in this unlikely location. The trail being hiked, high up on Paskapoo Ridge, was likely once a road. Who did the old cars belong to and under what circumstance were they abandoned in this obscure location? They always present an interesting photo shoot during the bushwhack around the pond for a series of preferred compositions.
On the return hike via the same route and a short distance west of the derelict cars, there is a steep and inconspicuous path climbing past two abandoned mounds created from old timber and earth. Likely they were once ramps used by thrill seeking cyclists to become airborne. Continuing a short distance further up this trail leads to a fascinating location of reverence and peace. Colorful prayer flags, strung on surrounding trees, announce arrival at a Buddhist site of prayer and worship. The graceful and brilliant Stupa stands formidably still as the field of prayer flags flutter in the breeze.
The return hike can be achieved in a variety of ways within the labyrinth of trail weaving through grassland, forest and valley on Paskapoo Slopes. Trails are shared by hikers, dog walkers and cyclists. On this weekday, there seems to be no-one else on these trails. All is peaceful and calm with an intermittent breeze punctuating the stillness of newly budding trees and foliage trying to shake off a particularly long and challenging winter. A lonely prairie crocus at trail-side near Canada Olympic Park quivers in a breeze delivering the promise of more favorable weather soon.
Those wishing to take advantage of the excellent complex of fascinating trail wedged between Canada Olympic Park on the west, and progressively encroaching high-end real estate development to the east, should probably grasp the opportunity within the next few years. The money grubbers are starting to circle.
Without massive and ongoing opposition, Nose Hill would be covered with high density development today but the historical land was saved for a short hike or as much distance and elevation as preferred.
Paskapoo Slopes is an excellent inner-city area to train up winter-weary muscles for the upcoming hiking season. Eventually this special and unique recreation area may disappear. Given the rich and long historical significance of Paskapoo Slopes, it troubles me that real estate development is being allowed to absorb this historically special place.
Entrance to the trails can be achieved from a variety of locations which include the road at the east side of the COP ski jump towers or a small parking area where east bound traffic on the TransCanada Highway takes the exit for Sarcee Trail and merges onto Sarcee Trail at the bottom of the Sarcee Trail hill.
Images for this post from Paskapoo Slopes were captured on April 28, 2014.