By Nicole Kobie
Lots of cities have urban parks, though none have anything quite like Fish Creek Provincial Park. Over 3,300 acres in size, it takes more than one dedicated summer to explore it all. Perfect for biking, hiking and just hanging out, there’s so much more to do than you may think.
Divided by Macleod Trail, the park has free parking so you can ditch your car and tackle nature. Bike and hiking trails are everywhere, though not all are paved. There’s horseback riding and the Environmental Learning Centre, as well as several great picnic sites. There is also the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, and many historic buildings.
Animals abound in the park. The Great Blue Heron Colony may be a restricted area, but eventually you’ll see one of the massive, endangered birds. Deer and squirrels are always plentiful, while coyotes can be heard yelping throughout the night–so don’t lose your dog, or you won’t be getting him back.
Many people also know about the free swimming at Lake Sikome. However, I make it a general rule to never swim in a fake lake with rumours related to diapers, and so should you.
For some cleaner refreshment, trek down the ice caves, south of the Bow Valley farm area. While you’re there, visit the buffalo jumps. They’re not as big as Head-Smashed-In, but they’re one hell of a lot closer.
If you get hungry, one of the best restaurants in the city is The Ranche, located in the home built by William Roper Hull in 1886. Not only is the food tasty, but they have both Big Rock and Wild Rose on tap.
Add in all the trails and picnic areas, and there’s enough to do to fill at least a couple of summers.