The Bow River through Calgary provides opportunities to enjoy a broad range of recreation, discovery and adventure.
This day begins with mundane recreational goals and becomes another unplanned, impromptu adventure. Every bluebird day is worthy of a walk in the forest and near the community of Bowness in west Calgary, there is a goldmine of opportunity. At the north end of 77th Street NW, which terminates at 48th Avenue NW, just to the right there is a signed alley with concrete steps and pathway which provide access to the Bow River. Most popular is the hiking route over the Hextall Bridge to adventures in Bowmont Park, Baker Park and Bowness Park.
This day will break from common practice near the south end of the Hextall Bridge to continue under the black railroad bridge on new, wider platform recently replaced after the old, narrow platform was destroyed and washed away by June 2013 flooding along the Bow River. Around the corner and a short distance along the asphalt path is a dirt trail branching off the the left called 'Maximum 20'. The paved path continues west to link up with urban bike path along Bow Village Crescent, NW.
The dirt path enters forest and drops gently down to track the south shoreline along the Bow River. Quite a bit of flood damage evidence still remains combined with spectacular views across the Bow River to cliff features along the north shore.
This early Spring Bowness saunter along the south shore of the Bow River behind homes along Bow Village Crescent, NW soon reveals the features of Waterfall Valley where water flow from the springs makes confluence with the Bow River. There is a lot of water along the North shore of the Bow River seeping from the sandstone cliffs on both sides of Waterfall Valley beneath the community of Silver Springs. Snow ledges continue to occupy sheltered sections of the Bow River south shoreline. Lack of new Spring foliage improves the view across the river. Evidence of beaver activity is high.
The trail dwindles out when private residential property reaches the south Bow River shoreline. The return is via the same route taken in where the shoreline provides fresh perspectives of both sides of the Bow River. When shrubbery branches extend their reach and gain new foliage, the narrow track threatens to provide a robust branch slapping for the more esoteric hikers.
Storm drain passage B 108A, which creates a corridor from the Bow River to Bow Village Crescent, NW warrants a quiet and respectful meander along the drainage route to witness and enjoy a small but exquisitely beautiful and photogenic east side marshland thriving with avian and amphibious life.
Continuing along the south Bow River shoreline eventually leads back to the trailhead and passage beneath the black railway bridge for crossing of the Hextall Bridge where an immediate drop to the east trail on the opposite side leads to a peninsula dividing two Bow River water courses. Established trail matrix offers a wide variety of alternatives but the recommended objective would be hiking the views along the perimeter of the peninsula to eventually arrive under the second (northerly) black railroad bridge.
Exploration around the base of the south foundation of the north black railway bridge will reveal opportunities to capture bold photographs of impressive artistic creativity. A freight train thundering over the bridge at this time can increase the spirit of adventure significantly.
Continuing west along the Bow River subsidiary arrives at a pond with access to the footbridge which connects with the paved pathway along the north shore of the Bow River. A turn right ducks under the north end of the north black railway bridge and immediately provides another brief off trail escape back onto the river delta where multiple trail opportunities offer relief from the madding crowd until a storm drainage encourages return to the paved trail near the dirt trail entrance to the wooden-fenced Fournier Trail along the north shore of the Bow River.
The short and picturesque Fournier Trail resides on a flat delta beneath towering cliffs along the south perimeter of Silver Springs. The Fournier property, with a spring fed pond, was acquired by the City of Calgary in year 2000 with a soon to be realized recreational plan for the 6.76 hectare (16.7 acre) wilderness property.
Improvements planned include a gravel interpretive trail loop with the east end of the property segregated as a wildlife sanctuary. Signed information is available at the pristine spring-fed pond and there will be a number of opportunities for the public to participate in the development of this pending natural treasure.
Exit from the Fournier delta can be achieved with potentially undignified transport between the rails of the trail side fence to the right of the storm pond drainage. A bit of stone hopping over the shallow stream completes the loop back onto the now familiar peninsula for the return hike across the Hextall Bridge to Bowness.
Countless adventures exist along the Bow River throughout Calgary. In the awkward time between Winter and Summer, there is huge opportunity to enjoy local Spring hiking when the weather can be more fickle than usual and the transformation of plant life becomes both exhilarating and mesmerizing. Everything comes alive before the snow melt and runoff in the mountains begins a similar experience there.
Perhaps it is time to revisit the urban wilderness treasures within Fish Creek Provincial Park in south-central Calgary.
Photographs for this local hiking experience were taken through fascinating terrain along the Bow River in the Bowness and Bowmont area during a random stroll on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.