Shannon Terrace occupies the west end of Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Normally, access to Shannon Terrace at the west end of Fish Creek Provincial Park would be achieved by driving west to the end of Anderson Road, SW and turning left onto 37th Avenue followed by a left turn into Woodlands at 130th Ave SW for a right turn onto Woodpath Road, SW which heads south to public parking in Shannon Terrace near the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre.
Access can be achieved from the south via the north-west corner of Evergreen or other points in Evergreen south from Bebo Grove. Printing a current Google map will increase the odds of being seen again.
This hiking tour begins from Bebo Grove where the vehicle remains parked from the excellent morning hike through and around spectacular inner-city wilderness terrain. This second hike begins from the Bebo Grove parking area by descending the obvious wooden stairs past wetlands into the grove of mature, tall and magnificent evergreen forest of more than century-old white spruce.
Established trail options vary from paved trail, to dirt road, to sketchy riverside path which will serve to provide variety or suit personal preference.
Trail side wetlands and stands of bulrushes/cattails provide stark contrast to the forest floor along Fish Creek. Sharp turns along the creek dramatically demonstrate the extensive damage caused by the June 2013 flood event. Substantial repair has been achieved but many of the landscape changes are permanent. The impact from the awesome power of raging water is impressive. Achievable recovery will be measured in decades as damage continues from creek bank erosion. Caution remains important.
Bridge # 2 provides access to a short, scenic and mildly undulating loop through mature forest and grassland. As well as providing visuals of flood impact from the opposite side of Fish Creek, this short loop also provides trail connection to Fish Creek Provincial Park from Marshall Springs within the Community of Evergreen along the south border of Fish Creek Provincial Park.
A combination of good dirt trail is an alternative to the more adventuresome creek side path which maintains close proximity to Fish Creek flood-damaged banks.
Trail eventually leads to the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre which is minimally open to the public and generally available to educational institutions by reservation. The site is predominantly occupied by classrooms, however there are surrounding recreation trails and leisure sites more frequently used by the public.
Memorial benches are common throughout all Calgary Parks. In the past, the small rectangular bronze plaques were most commonly dedicated to the lives of departed people who had enjoyed their lifetime benefits of wilderness and nature.
More recently, markers have been used to recognize marriages and significant milestone anniversaries. The bench and marker for Tom Ward is an unsettling mystery, perhaps best left unsolved. The overwhelming urge to enter the building to inquire is resisted. The assumption is that Tom Ward remains an eager and inspirational presence in some form somewhere.
Classrooms at the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre
Pathway heading east passes the classrooms through tall white spruce evergreen forest and past a fenced and restricted wildlife preservation area prior to the outdoor presentation area where fair weather presentations are hosted by Alberta Parks staff to educate.
A short distance past the presentation theater, vacant and wooden beam fenced area protects the site of the pioneer Willans Family Ranch. Original buildings are gone but a marker provides interesting background about the original settlers who occupied and developed this land.
Past the Willans Family Ranch site, a major trail junction provides an unanticipated opportunity for more knowledgeable and experienced trekkers with a good sense of direction.
Faint trail tending northeast from the major intersection leads into dense forest where a complex lattice of faint game trail obliterates all indication of civilized surroundings. The small tract of land provides a carefully navigated adventure through the private domain of wildlife which occupy the park. There is copious evidence of their activity but not a single sighting.
Sensible navigation eventually intersects with dirt trail passing through forest past an old, animal grave site and evidence of long gone infrastructure in the form of ancient pits, paths and old roads. Decaying lumber in old forest supports colorful moss and intriguing fungi thriving above the perpetually damp forest floor.
Return to the Bebo Grove parking area is met with the reflective pools of water in the shallow, forested trail-side valley and a small herd of white-tailed deer wandering through the parking area and eventually settling to graze on nearby green grassland. Magic!
Fish Creek Provincial Park is a special, valuable and easily accessible wilderness recreation area within a major urban presence. Each of us who enjoy the experience is a valuable caretaker so everyone who follows can share the experience.
Photographs for this excellent hike around and through Shannon Terrace in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada were taken on the afternoon of Thursday, April 20, 2017.