St. Patrick's Island Park is close to the Calgary Zoo in the Bow River flowing through downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The primary objective for this bicycle ride from Bowness to Calgary downtown via the Calgary Pathway System is to have a close-up look at the giant crane attempting to lift the old 12th Street Bridge from its moorings in the community of Inglewood. St. Patrick's Island Park is adjacent to the Calgary Zoo in the Bow River east of Prince's Island Park. A new bridge over the Bow River will replace the aging relic.
Access to St. Patrick's Island Park is achieved the by crossing Baines Bridge onto Zoo Road. The new entrance and alternate parking for the Calgary Zoo along Zoo Road is temporarily closed and blocking access to 12th Street construction. There is an opportunity for a combination walk and ride onto and through St. Patrick's Island Park. The island has been restored and substantially upgraded since the June 2013 flooding event when the island was essentially underwater and seriously decimated. The recovery is impressive.
New rest areas with historical markers, and picnic areas with charcoal grills, are connected by bridges over waterways and wetlands. During the week this quiet, calm and forested facility is an excellent place to enjoy nature surrounded by rushing waters of the Bow River and outstanding Calgary skyline viewpoints.
Pathways are predominantly dirt with a paved main course through the middle augmented by forest trails and metal walkways over wetlands. The hike and bike continues west past an impressive children's playground and a large earthen mound where wooden stairs lead to the top presenting the opportunity to roll down the grassy slopes on the other side.
Past the hill feature, ponds feeding the subsidiary tributary of the Bow River also host an impressive flow-controlled, bathing and tanning facility which families with youngsters are thoroughly enjoying. This facility precludes passing the artistic light standard prior to crossing the recently completed George C. King Bridge over the Bow River. The foundations and fundamental framework for this bridge were in place and survived the major 2013 flooding event.
From the far south side of the bridge, paved pathway passes several exhibits where the Elbow River meets the Bow River prior to passing Fort Calgary where the Elbow River Traverse leads East behind historic Deane House. Pathway tracks the south shore of the Bow River until the route is blocked by construction fencing at the site of the 12th Street Bridge.
Some back alley maneuvering is required to cross 12th Street but pathway from parking for fine dining available at the infamous Rouge provides visual access to views of the old bridge and massive crane. The initial attempt to lift the bridge failed and now all is quiet as material has been removed to lighten the bridge. Canopy beneath the bridge will reduce debris falling into the river. A day without wind or at least gentle breeze is required for the mammoth maneuver. Following two failed attempts the old bridge is finally removed on May 29, 2017.
The return cycle crosses the Elbow River on the Elbow River Traverse before crossing the Bow River on the George C. King Bridge.
Returning home on the north side Bow River Pathway passes the aging Fourth Street Bridge over the Bow River and continues west along the north shore until arrival at the infamous and perpetually expensive, but also dramatic, Peace Bridge. The Peace Bridge provides transfer to the Bow River Pathway travelling west along the south shore of the Bow River until arrival at shaded parkland behind the Pumphouse Theatre.
This shaded oasis hosts a variety of art work and is a favorite place for lunch beside the Bow River. There is also a foundation here adjacent to the Bow River which, on this day, is accessible. From past observation from the opposite side of the river it appears to be one end of an old bridge foundation but closer examination reveals it is likely the concrete foundation for a small building that may have served as a water pumping facility to a long gone industrial enterprise of some kind.
Lunch is habitually enjoyed at Amy's Bench, the unique memorial bench for Amy Doolittle (August 26, 1960 - October 17, 2009) created by her husband and sculptor Don Dickson in 2011. Walking in the cool shade is enjoyable while accompanied by the sound of Bow River flow and cool breeze. A constant flow of cyclists, runners and folks out for a river walk, stream relentlessly past.
Following a brief visit to Pumphouse Theatre, the ride home continues via the Bow River Pathway with a transfer to the north shore via the pedestrian underpass beneath the 14th Street Bridge to complete the final section back to Bowness.
The Calgary City Pathway System is perpetually being expanded and improved to continue as one of the city's most valuable resources for pedestrians, folks on rollerblades and cyclists.