Paradise Trail - Cross Conservation - Hiking Alberta

 

Paradise Trail is a scenic hike through diverse terrain at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The entrance to the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area is southwest of Calgary, Alberta, at the 160 Street turnoff from Hwy 22x.  The entrance kiosk is at the end of a 2 KM drive through stately mansions in the rolling foothills.  At parking, the interpretive kiosk hosts a registration book, a metal donation post and a map to borrow for path navigation.  The trail head is a short stroll past the entrance kiosk to the Belvedere Pavilion

Paradise Trail is accessed via the Aspen Trail or the Fescue Trail.  Today, the Mountain Lookout Trail (1.0 KM) will provide outstanding views over surrounding terrain, and spectacular mountain vistas to the west, on the hike to the intersection of the Aspen Trail with the Paradise Trail.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The short jaunt south on a portion of the Fescue Trail leads to a downhill curve on the Aspen Trail past a thicket of trees where a deer is grazing just prior to the clearly signed intersection with the Paradise Trail for a counter clockwise hike around the 3.0 KM trail.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Initially a short, platform bridge crosses a small, wetland section before the trail meanders through the new Spring foliage of surrounding forest.  It is caterpillar season and a hiking pole is handy to sweep forward progress clear of the tiny grubs suspended by invisible, silken threads from the branches above.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Terrain is hilly and varied with occasional open areas before exit from forest at the West Side Lookout where rustic log benches provide the opportunity to rest and absorb the sweeping vistas over surrounding farmland to cloud-enshrouded mountains beyond.

Following a pleasant section through expansive grass fields, the hiking trail enters forest again.  This transition will reoccur many times over the course of the next hour.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Forest canopies create recurring entry passages to sweeping prairie views over foothills.  Livestock grazes in the distance.  Brilliant green land is interrupted by the occasional aspen stand or glacial erratic.  Full field of vision is captured by the magnificent expanse.  A gentle breeze moderates the warmth of intermittent sun.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

 

Click here for a video from the intersection of the south junction of the Paradise Trail with the Fescue Trail.

 

Along the south side of the Fescue Trail a picnic pavilion and a classy outhouse are separated by an excellent, busy and densely-populated ant colony.  The spacious outhouse is meticulously clean and sports a broom, tissue sealed in a coffee can, and hand sanitizer.  A cattle guard surrounding the biffy prevent cows from tipping it over.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The next section of trail is an extended, light descent to old corrals.  In one short section of forest tunnel there are two crows making an audible fuss' perched in tree branches high above me .

When passing through the forest tunnel, about 40 more crows swoop in, and join the pair to create a sizable murder.  Their cold, steely eyes are clearly focused on my biscuit.  If the murder attacks with synchronized precision, it will be like an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  Quickly finishing the biscuit, and picking up the pace, averts any potential crisis.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The derelict corrals at the bottom of the valley stand sentinel near the east intersection of the Fescue Trail with the Rancher's Trail.  A camouflage outhouse at the trail junction raises the question, 'Why is the outhouse painted green?'.

The remainder of the hike is a sustained ascent on the east side of the Fescue Trail.  A small, cattle pond is picturesque on the left but not occupied today.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaParadise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

At the top of the hill the Fescue Trail joins the Mountain Lookout Trail near Belvedere House.  The short hike back to the car completes an excellent hiking experience.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The following map from the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area website will provide better visual perspective than words can do.  They are many options here for  hikes of different length and physical endeavor in an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place.

 

Paradise Trail, Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area is an excellent resource for local folk to begin hiking with short, easy access to a variety of trail experiences.  Many interpretive plaques can make the visit an educational experience about this important wilderness resource.

 

In 1854 it was Chief Seattle who said,

"All things are connected.  Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.  We did not weave the web of life: we are merely a strand in it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves."

 

Photographs for this post featuring Paradise Trail at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area southwest of Calgary, Alberta, Canada were captured on June 4, 2015.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

What a wonderfully relaxing, beautiful walk this is. The lush green, stately silver birches, sense of space and tranquility. Just love it.

Thank you, Helen.  Hiking through the forest and meadows of the foothills is a wonderfully relaxing experience.  There are more than 750 conservation areas throughout the province of Alberta.  Unfortunately there are just a few near Calgary and while many are total wilderness areas, Cross Conservation is well established southwest of Calgary and the grounds are used to educate legions of school children.  I hope your plans to get out and about with Your Friends Down Under for  winter hiking are as exciting as mine for summer hiking here in Canada.  I always enjoy the unique differences between our two countries.

Barry, sadly our only difference here, between summer hiking and winter hiking, is the heat level. During winter we select hikes that we wouldn't enjoy in summer. With no humidity we feel totally fit and invigorated wherever we walk. In 2 weeks time, 3 of us are doing a 4 day coastal walk. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/brochures/20100479YuraygirCoastalWalk.pdf I learnt of this walk 4 years ago when Leslie Gerein of Banff fame, walked it and then visited me. Very excited that I'm finally walking in her steps albeit a tad slower. Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog.

Thanks for the link, Helen.  I shall look forward to the photos.  Enjoy your adventure.

Thank you so much, Barry. This is a really good hiking place with family.

I agree, Barish.  Lots of wide, open space, easy trail of various length and good picnic spots.

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