Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary at the west end of Bowness Park in Calgary, Alberta.
From Bowness, in northwest Calgary, Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary is a short bicycle ride across the Bow River and through Baker Park to the fully repaired pedestrian pathway under the Stoney Trail Bridge. Let's begin with photos of spring-storm rainbows captured through the living room window near Canada Olympic Park a couple of days prior.
On the ride into Bowmont Natural Environment Park, high water is affecting the banks of the Bow River and there is considerable evidence of gradually collapsing river boundaries. The bicycle ride west through Baker Park along the north shore of the Bow River and across the Bow River via Stoney Trail bridge is very pleasant on this fine, sunny, summer day. The Frisbee (Disc Golf) courses are busy in Baker Park.
On the south side of the Stoney Trail Bridge, at the shore of the Bow River, there is a wooden viewing platform immediately to the west. From here an excellent view of high water is available of the Bow River under the Stoney Trail Bridge.
The short, flat, easy hike though Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary Trail passes through magnificent and reverent old growth forest. Some of the trees are more than 400 years old and tower over newer trees which will inevitably replace them just like human population. There are a few obstacles which may prevent everyone from participating but the short trail is a wonderful forest experience and not limited to this short span.
The relatively easy trail continues past its short span. The canal may prevent access to Bowness Park, which is closed for rejuvenation and flood damage repair, but an uphill link connects the trail to Wood's Home in Bowness. There is an opportunity to return west for exploration of a well established side trail and thoroughly enjoying this magnificent forest section on the way back to the Stoney Trail Bridge.
There is evidence of flood damage along the trail but also many indications that time and new growth will overcome.
Back at the Stoney Trail Bridge, the paved cycle path continues uphill on an impressive set of railed and paved switchbacks, initially beneath the bridge, to communities above where Stoney Trail approaches its intersection with the TransCanada Highway (16th Avenue through Calgary).
On the way up the paved switchbacks, a trail entrance heads west and the excellent trail initially heads across west before beginning descent. At a sharp right turn it becomes obvious the trail is a loop back to the junction at the Bow River. How convenient. Partway down I intersect with a lateral trail. Turning right will return me to the bottom of the Stoney Trail Bridge. Turning left (west) will continue through Douglas Fir Forest . There is a goldmine of urban hiking available here as an extension to the elaborate Calgary Pathway System.
There are park benches along the way to rest and enjoy the forest. On the final stair descent, the trail returns to near river level and offers a grand view of Stoney Trail Bridge prior to the ride home through Baker Park and Bowmont Natural Environment Park to Bowness.
On the ride home, a stop at the park bench near where the Bow River flood in June 2013 destroyed the link beneath the CPR bridge new rock fill, to protect the banks, allows the possibility to walk around the bottom to trail on the other side even though river levels are quite high.
Sitting on the bench in the sun and enjoying the relaxing sound of rushing water for half an hour is occasionally interrupted by a sturdy raft, or inflatable kayak, passing by and carrying fully equipped and experienced pilots downriver. Bow River is in spring runoff and unpredictable obstacles from last years flood make the river unsafe, and outright dangerous, for marginal craft and inexperienced crew.
Rainbow photos were taken on June 20, 2014 and the hike and bike photos to Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary and beyond were captured on June 22, 2014.