As soon as the streets clear from Calgary’s notoriously snowy winters, locals hop on bikes to navigate the city — and you should join them. Calgary has the most extensive urban pathway network in North America, making it a breeze to get around the Canadian city on two wheels.
Here, we’ve highlighted the top five Calgary bike paths.
1. Bow River
Distance: 9 miles
Chances are you’re not going to make it along the whole 9-mile pathway, as the Bow River cuts through the entire city and beyond. So start your ride on the river’s south side in downtown’s Eau Claire Park, where you’ll take in the city views across the river. Cycle west and continue until you reach Edworthy Park.
Edworthy covers 418-acres, and the ride along its lengthy and wooded river edge is one of the most beautiful stretches in the city — even though you’ll have to share it with locals on sunny days. Otherwise, follow the pathway as it curves north toward the Harry Boothman Bridge.
Cross the river and stop at Angel’s Cappuccino & Ice Cream Cafe for a refuel before heading east along the north side of the Bow River. You’ll soon reach Poppy Plaza, a sprawling war memorial with a large wooden deck and a steel wall inscribed with quotes from world leaders and ordinary people.
As you near downtown, you’ll cross the pedestrian and cyclists’ Peace Bridge back into Eau Claire Park where you started.
2. Prince’s Island Park
Distance: 2 miles
This island on the Bow River is downtown and a favorite local’s spot for picnicking, walking, cycling and gathering. Cross any of the three bridges from the downtown riverfront and follow the paths in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction, with many options to cut into the island’s middle.
The paved pathways through the almost 50-acre park (shared with pedestrians) offer city views in all directions. Finish off your adventure at River Café, where the focus is on local ingredients and seasonal dishes.
3. Confederation Park
Distance: 3 miles
Head northwest of downtown to 400-acre Confederation Park. Particularly nice is the park’s wetland section, centered around a stream with large trees and vegetation on both sides. It’s likely you’ll see muskrats, Canada geese, gulls and many other varieties of birds.
You can explore the park’s bike paths in any direction, and if you’re into it, head northwest into Queen’s Park Cemetery. Here, there are 136 additional acres to cycle through.
4. Bowness Park
Distance: 2 miles
This 74-acre patch of forest on the Bow River is a haven for outdoor recreational activities. Two connecting loops comprise the route: The first path cuts along the southern border of the island and does a loop through the center.
The second loop begins at either the east or west end and crosses the river via pedestrian bridge into Baker Park. Once in Baker you’ll cycle through manicured lawns then loop back over the river to reenter Bowness Park.
The big win at Bowness is not just about the cycling path; you can also lock up your bike and head to the lagoon near the entrance of the park. Here you can rent pedal boats, canoes and kayaks (or skates in the winter).
For those with kids, there’s a fun mini train to ride that has been in operation since the early 1950s. It’s a tight fit for adults, but there’s just enough room to squeeze in with delighted toddlers.
5. Nose Hill Park
Distance: Up to 25 miles
For a complete escape from the concrete jungle without leaving the city, explore this 2,800-acre space, one of the largest urban parks in North America. There are 32 trails and 25 miles of pathways to cycle.
Make sure to make the climb up the hill to Plateau Trail, where you’ll get views of the Rocky Mountains, Bow River Valley and the expansive plains to the east. And no expectations, but you might run into deer, coyotes, porcupines, gophers and hawks!