Cycling the Elbow River Pathway

After spending a bit of time at MEC this morning, I left Mr. GeoK shopping in the bike department, unloaded my bike from the back of our car, and pedaled off to a meeting just north of Glenmore Reservoir. I made straight for the 5th Street cycle track and from there onto the Bow River Pathway where the first bit of my route overlapped part of our recent art and architecture tour bike ride. Just past our turnaround point on that earlier ride, I spotted something new to me…

Crossroads Park

Crossroads Park includes a fantastic playground, a whole bunch of thriving community garden plots, and sculpture/storage unit based on three shipping containers. I didn’t photograph the playground because there were so many children enjoying it and I didn’t have time to ask all the parents if they’d be okay with me taking a few pictures. Here’s a look at the community garden plots.

Two artists were working out of one shipping container. They’ll be there for about another week, finishing up the last of 58 panels to be used as hoarding at the new Calgary Central Library site. I learned at Calgary Creative Congress 2014 that hoarding is jargon for the fencing that goes up around a construction site, primarily for safety purposes. The City of Calgary encourages the use of enhanced fencing, to add visual interest and public art. In exchange for supporting youth and artists, builders get a bit of a break on their hoarding fees. From what I saw, the fencing around the new Calgary Central Library site is going to be interesting and colourful.

I made another quick stop along the Bow River Pathway, between Fort Calgary and the Bow River. The red boxes add some terrific colour to this section of RiverWalk. I think these light up at night; I should really plan a night photowalk in this part of town.

Circle of Life

Fort Calgary is situated at the confluence of the Elbow River and Bow River, so after crossing the Elbow River Traverse pedestrian/bicycle bridge, I was at the north end of the Elbow River Pathway System. My first stop as I pedaled south was in Inglewood. I’ve walked or pedaled past the sculpture garden located at the southwest corner of 8th Street and 9th Avenue SE several times in the past. Today I stopped to check out The Circle of Life. Signage on site dates the sculpture garden to 2007 and lists the many sculptors who contributed to the installation.

Rainbow Trout

I read about Jeff de Boer’s Rainbow Trout sculpture when it was unveiled last month, but I didn’t pay particularly close attention to where it was installed. So I was delighted to discover my route took me right past its home at Calgary Foundation Crossing, located at the north end of ENMAX Park. I took several minutes to move around the piece, move closer and then further away, fascinated by the fact that if you stand in just the right place, the curved metal supports and colourful abstract shapes suddenly come together to form a rainbow trout jumping out of the water.

For more photos and background on this new piece in Calgary’s growing collection of public art, I recommend this post from @everydaytourist.


There was only one other person in ENMAX Park as I rode through. Perhaps Calgarians have yet to discover this beautiful inner city park, the new location for the Calgary Stampede’s Indian Village. I rode past gates at either end that I assume will be used to control access during the Stampede. The park was also conceived as a huge open-air museum. The Western Heritage Trail signage is up and sculptures have been commissioned to represent milestones in Calgary’s history.

Riding south from ENMAX Park I enjoyed watching the hustle and bustle across the Elbow River, work being done to get ready for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Approaching 25th Avenue, there’s a Y intersection in the pathway. The left (east) fork offers the option of a side trip to the Calgary Water Centre, a very interesting building with both interior and exterior art. I took the right (west) fork and crossed under Maclead Trail, past the Talisman Centre and then into some of Calgary’s most historic neighbourhoods. It’s hard to believe there are views like this right in the middle of Calgary (and imagine what this would look like in autumn)…

Despite the fact that I took a quick look at the pathway route on Google Maps last night, navigation became more challenging from here on. I carefully watched for blue and white bike pathway signs, and managed pretty well up to Stanley Park. I was not the only one having difficulties; I was stopped twice by other riders asking for directions to downtown Calgary. In hindsight, I should have fired up Google Maps on my phone (I still haven’t fully transitioned from paper maps to digital maps) or taken a photo of the first Elbow River Pathway system map sign that I saw.

To make a long (and somewhat embarrassing) story short, I ended up leaving the Elbow River Pathway and transitioning to on-road bike routes just past Stanley Park. I blame the orange fencing! As a result, I ended up way over by Chinook Centre and had to work my way through a couple of neighbourhoods before I eventually regained the pathway system near the 14th Street/Glenmore Trail interchange. By that time, I was pedaling pretty hard so that I wouldn’t be late to my 12:30 meeting. But I did make one quick stop on the Glenmore causeway to enjoy the view south along the Glenmore Reservoir.


I was 5 minutes late for my meeting. When it wrapped up a couple of hours later, I pedaled home, racing against the storm front moving in from the northwest. All-in-all it was a good day to explore part of Calgary on bike. I plan to ride the Elbow River Pathway again soon, but next time I’ll study the route more carefully beforehand.

All photos in the post were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5.

Total distance = 28 km
Total time = 1 hr 45 minutes, plus 30 minutes for photo stops
Total gain = 295 meters mostly from Lakeview to our home in west Calgary

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