Elliston Lake is an urban oasis in southwest Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
There are paved parking areas on the east and west sides of the park. The east parking area is adjacent to a well-appointed playground area and within a short stroll to one of the main entrances at the corner of 60th Street and 17th Avenue SW.
Beyond the entrance sign, an alcove inexplicably displays two sheltered benches with the symbol for radioactivity on the paved path travelling past them. It takes only a moment to understand the symbol is intended to draw attention to the restored windmill soaring above nearby, interesting, interpretive plaques. Capturing the power of the wind was an integral component of taming harsh prairie conditions in the West. The plaques are informative and interesting.
Adjacent to the windmill is a large, sundial exhibit where a person can stand on the current month stone, with arms held high overhead, so their shadow will point to the current time of day. Neat! Great for the children.
The paved path descends gently past and around a flower garden to an observation platform for the view over Elliston Lake. Elliston Lake is a storm pond which collects runoff from Calgary residential streets and the natural contours of the surrounding land. The lakes depth can vary rapidly and the park is closed at times of significant runoff.
The hike around Elliston Lake will arbitrarily proceed in a clockwise direction. Either direction is fine. Paved path changes to gravel for the majority of the trek around the 20 hectares of storm pond. Soon, there is arrival at the impressive BP Birthplace Forest where trail alternatives wander through the urban forest containing a diverse collection of tree species suitable for this unique location.
The winding, excellent-quality trail above Elliston Lake provides continually pleasing images of a relaxing place where alternating path options provide the choice of trail through forest or along the circumference of the pond.
Small signs at the base of many trees may contain the names of people who planted the forest. Some many stand as memorials of loved ones lost.
Although this little park borders the East Calgary Landfill Site, the only evidence of this location are high, fenced berms and some noticeable large truck traffic on 68th Street which take little away from the beauty of the experience. A floating surface of fragile ice occupies the south end of the pond where the outlet of water passes beneath 68th Street, SW to a large marshland beyond.
The trail makes a tight turn around the south end of Elliston Lake to continue north along the west side of the storm pond. The isolated blanket of ice creates a temporary and picturesque reflector of heat and sunlight.
Several seagulls are using the platform of ice to groom themselves in the warmth of the sun. Edges of the icy surface reflect the light like diamonds for a sparkling display of rainbow colors. Back at the north end of the lake, there are shelters, picnic tables and seasonal washrooms in the picnic and playground area adjacent to two very impressive, age-dependent playgrounds with features not commonly seen.
Elliston Park hosts a sufficiently broad selection of amenities to be attractive to a broad cross-section of people. The small, 415 hectare area provides an excellent half day experience.
The Ellis Family made valuable contributions to the area of Conrich, Chestermere Lake and what is now East Calgary for more than five generations after relocating from Ontario in 1912, with nine children, to establish a homestead in the prairie foothills. Elliston Park is named in honor of their significant contributions.