West Nose Creek Park is an urban wilderness oasis in northeast Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
West Nose Creek Park occupies 73 hectares (180+ acres) of fascinating and colorful terrain in NE Calgary adjacent to the Beddington Trail exit along Deerfoot Trail near Nose Hill and the Calgary Airport. When accessing this unique park from the south along Deerfoot Trail, keep right on the Beddington Trail ramp and make a right turn just past the first stoplight into a generous parking area adjacent to a fenced dog off-leash area. The park entrance is obvious near warm season washroom facilities. West Nose Creek Park can also be accessed by driving further west on Beddington Trail for a right turn north into parking off Harvest Hills Blvd. NW.
A short distance on paved bike path leads to gravel road access into the 2007 BP Birthplace Forest hosting in excess of 5000 deciduous and evergreen trees embellished by rock formations in artistic arrangements. The forest will show best in full foliage.
Exit from the 2007 BP Birthplace Forest leads to stunning views across West Nose Creek Park. The narrow, winding creek twists and turns through vibrantly colorful fields of golden fescue. From this lofty perch the entire park is visible and a faint trail continues west along the top of the ravine. In hindsight, the decision to pursue this faint trail would not be advisable for the sensible and less adventuresome.
The trail dwindles to nothing and tracks tight to chain link fence dividing the steep slope of the park's south boundary from the narrow apron separating traffic along busy and noisy Beddington Trail. The chain link fence is occasionally required for support to remain at the top of the hill. The plus side of the tenuous route is the phenomenal view of the entire park below and the building anticipation of eventually getting down there to hike through it.
After hiking along the concrete portion of the park barrier, the view from the top of the steep slope suggests there may be no feasible route across the creek at the bottom of the valley. An easy climb over the concrete barrier provides noisy passage across the creek valley in close proximity to high speed traffic prior to the quick drop down on the far side near additional west end parking along Harvest Hills Blvd. NW for Confluence Park aka West Nose Creek Park and the popular driving range at Beddington Golf Park.
A quick loop down and beneath the bridge provides the opportunity to hike west for excellent views along West Nose Creek before heading back under the bridge for the much anticipated hike through West Nose Creek Park formerly known, and still signed, as Confluence Park. The far (east) end of West Nose Creek meets the confluence of Nose Creek flowing south to join the Bow River near the Calgary Zoo.
This refreshing and fragrant hike along dirt path through the bottom of the valley is adjacent to the clear water of the winding creek surrounded by a wide variety of different colored grasses. There are occasional bridge crossings and some fenced-in areas to protect fragile creek banks while Spring runoff creek erosion is underway. A short distance further the trail arrives at Split Rock. There is a well groomed, gravel path around Split Rock but the truly adventurous will be compelled to engage the crack.
After greasing myself up, the short distance through the split is achieved with millimeters to spare. Two. No need to bother with any further dieting. Split Rock is a glacial erratic deposited many thousands of years ago at the end of the most recent Ice Age. The interior of the split rock is a slightly rotated mirror image confirming it was a single, very large boulder long ago.
The gravel path leads to the top of the adjacent and historic stone quarry. At the top there are benches available to relax and absorb the outstanding valley view. Interpretive plaques reveal the interesting origin of the glacial rock deposit originating from the Jasper area and a brief photographic history of the sandstone quarry which is one of at least four in this valley that served early construction of Calgary buildings.
Back at the bottom of West Nose Creek Park, trail passes the old rock quarry and continues east through brush and grass with occasional bridge crossings over West Nose Creek.
Locations of other stone quarries are obvious along the valley walls. The hike will be modified substantially by new foliage but on this day features are enhanced by open ground.
Occasionally, dirt trails share asphalt sections of bike path which mainly occupy the north top of the valley with the occasional branch into and out from the bottom. There are also faint but obviously used trails for a superior wilderness experience into the detailed nooks and crannies of the valley.
The wide and plentiful grass varieties are an interpretive guide's dream in this botanical treasure.
The east end of the valley ends at the fenced corridor containing the railway tracks adjacent to frantic traffic on Deerfoot Trail. The 2007 BP Birthplace Forest stands clearly on the south ridge above and all that remains is the intuitively obvious path alternatives to navigate return to the starting point at the top of the valley with excellent views of the nearly completed hiking adventure.
An interpretive plaque provides historical information which explains the Deerfoot Trail was originally the aboriginal North Trail stretching from Mexico to the Edmonton area. A stage coach journey along North Trail from burgeoning Calgary to Edmonton required four overnight stays along the way.
West Nose Creek Park is an excellent inner-city hike for early season conditioning while waiting for snow to recede in nearby mountains.