Douglas Fir Trail - Calgary - Hiking Alberta

 

The Douglas Fir Trail can be accessed from Edworthy Park in Calgary, Alberta.

 

Douglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

***  In the comments section at the end of this post, information can be found about the possibility of this trail being closed.  Action should be taken to prevent this from happening if restoration is feasible.  Your help will be appreciated.  The City of Calgary needs to be informed. ***

Along the south shoreline on steep banks above the Bow River rests a stand of magnificent Douglas Fir Trees.  Part of this forest is home to the 2.5 KM (1½ mile) Douglas Fir Trail which travels through dense forest between parking at Edworthy Park and Cedar Crescent SW in Calgary, Alberta.

Easy access to the Douglas Fir Trail is available from parking areas for Edworthy Park.  North side parking is larger and requires crossing the bridge over the Bow River.  South side parking is more challenging to access but more convenient to the trail head on the paved Bow River Pathway on the south side of the railway tracks.

The trail begins at an obvious spot on the right side of the paved Bow River Pathway at the metal gate before proceeding past a bicycle rack and a large boulder with brass plaques onto relatively level dirt path through inviting forest which curls gracefully east to soon rise a short distance above the Bow River Pathway with an increase in trail complexity which creates the wilderness experience.

Bridge 5122B crosses the first drainage and wooden fortified trail features add safety and comfort along and through the dense forest on the escarpment.  Periodically there are brief views of the Bow River Pathway a deceivingly short distance beneath.

Stairs gain elevation aggressively through massive trees and sandstone features for horizontal traverse much higher on the hill.

 

Douglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The relentless ascent on wooden beam and dirt stairs is an aerobic opportunity rewarded by leading to a pair of benches that provide spectacular views over west Calgary.  A short climb further leads to the short lateral traverse prior to descent on stairs past wooden bridges over major drainages.  Care is required at the tangled remains of Bridge 5122D.  

There is substantial flood damage along the trail and shifting ground has created areas where caution is sensible.  Level trail passes through a meadow beneath a fenced slide area to a fenced barrier which has obviously been breached many times. The breach leads onto mangled trail into and through damaged forest on unstable ground and is best avoided in favor of the short descent to the paved Bow River Pathway where a gravel path detour along the south side of the railway tracks continues along the bottom of the damaged portion of the escarpment. 

 

Douglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The gravel trail adjacent to the south side of the railway tracks passes a small, pristine marsh and continues east on a fairly flat true path past the junction with the other side of the trail interruption.  A short distance further the trail curls right to gain altitude on good wide path past one signed junction to continue on narrow, more rustic trail through dense, aromatic forest.

 

Douglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

This short section leads to another open, three-way junction where old, historic Quarry Road heads uphill and the Douglas Fir Trail continues east on wide, good quality, gravel road.  Periodically, grand views across the Bow River towards Calgary Downtown remind this forest walk camouflages nearby urban density.

 

Douglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

On the return via the same route, a left turn north on high quality trail along Quarry Road swings uphill past the golf course and past the east entrance for the Douglas Fir Trail to communities at the top of the hill.  Evidence of the ancient sandstone quarry appears to be gone and little is known about it's existence beyond the fact that stone from the quarry was used around 1885 to construct government buildings in Regina, Saskatchewan.

On the return descent from the top of the hill, there is scant evidence the quarry may have been active near the junction of Quarry Road with the top of the East Entrance to the Douglas Fir Trail.  The East Entrance trail provides spectacular views over the Calgary skyline before aggressive descent to rejoin the Douglas Fir Trail and the continuing return hike west to Edworthy Park.

 

Douglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Back at the junction with the Douglas Fir Trail the same route skirts west on gravel trail along the bottom of the damaged section to the entrance near the Bow River Pathway railroad crossing for the short ramp up stairs and west over the stairs and bridges past the viewpoint to the south parking area for Edworthy Park.

 

Douglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaDouglas Fir Trail, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The Douglas Fir Trail is an inner-city oasis through old growth forest which provides a relaxing interlude from urban commotion.  This short section of trail should not be confused with the Douglas Fir Sanctuary Trail in Bowness near the base of the Stoney Trail Bridge over the Bow River Valley.  The entire Douglas Fir Forest, which is believed to be the most easterly grove in Canada, stretches along and above the south shore of the Bow River for several kilometers.  Some of the magnificent trees are in excess of 500 years old.  Although specific trails service specific sections of the forest, it is likely there are unofficial link trails which span the entire length of the grove.

Photographs for this post were captured on  Tuesday, May 17, 2016.

 

 

 

 

Categories: 

Tags: 

Comments

Do you have regular hikes up the Douglas Fir Trail? I enjoy going especially with groups.

Thank you for your comment, Tricia.  Personally, I do not hike in groups but there are a host of hiking groups in Calgary.  Often schools and churches will have a group that hikes together.  Check around with friends and family for a solution that may work well for you.  The Douglas Fir hikes at Edworthy and Bowness are very good experiences.  The ancient trees are majestic.  Good luck and have fun.

The City is closing this awesome resource. Have your voice heard by calling 311 and participating at https://www.facebook.com/SaveDouglasFirTrail. Speak up or lose this amazing trail in Calgary.

The east end of the Douglas Fir Trail was closed several years ago due to a landslide on unstable slopes. The 'closed' sections are still used by a few as an alternative to the lower level detour created shortly after the trail closure.  There may be concerns about flood damage and unstable terrain on the remaining section. Given the historic nature and beauty of the trail, the cost of stabilizing and retaining the trail should be considered as an alternative.  I agree the trail is certainly worth saving if the cost of doing that is within reach.  The decision is much bigger than City Hall's opinion.

Add new comment