Our bike rides have multiple purposes: exercise, photography, active transportation and/or geocaching. With my last ride in Griffith Woods centered on exercise and photography, I decided to plan a ride based on geocaching.
For advance planning, the official geocaching website is a great resource. Search for the general area you’ll be visiting, open any geocaching listing and click in “view larger map” to get a good overview of how many geocaches are available to be found and how close they are to parking and pathways. If you grab a screen shot, you can print a copy of the map and use that to highlight your planned route and jot down a few notes about container sizes, descriptions and hints to make searching for the hidden containers a little easier when you get close to the posted coordinates. Looking at the most recent geocache logs is also a good way to get a heads up in case of ants, hornets or other pests recently noted in the area, as well as other helpful information such as whether other finders have found the posted coordinates to be accurate.
The route I plotted included 11 potential geocache finds with minimal backtracking. There were a few more geocaches on my printed map, but I didn’t plan to search for them because they’re pretty far off the official pathway system and I never like to drag my bike through the woods, especially in a natural environment park like Griffith Woods.
I planned to ride straight to Griffith Woods from our home in west Calgary, a distance of less than 2 km and pretty much all downhill. But I had to make a last-minute detour to drop something off at K’s school, so my ride expanded to include active transportation to run errands. As a result, my approach was an even longer downhill ride, primarily on the mixed use pathway that runs along the west side of 69th Street and then down into Discovery along a section of the Calgary Greenway.
I made two stops before reaching Griffith Woods, both times to search for a geocache. I got lucky at the first stop; another geocacher was already on site, with the geocache in hand. Plus it was a large container, so I was able to drop the travel bugs that we’d been holding for several months. It’s always a nice surprise to meet another cacher on the hunt. The second stop was a pretty location in Discovery, the neighbourhood that backs onto Griffith Woods. It was an easy find and I was soon heading into Griffith Woods.
Geobiking in Griffith Woods
I can remember Griffith Woods twice being seriously damaged by flooding – in 2008 and 2013. Both times, pathways needed significant repairs and bridges needed to be replaced. And this work seems to take years. So I was pleased and surprised when, on the way to my first planned stop, I came across a new bridge that appears to have been built to withstand the inevitable next flood. Signage posted nearby described some of the 2013 flood damage and flood mitigation measures that are being taken as the infrastructure is rebuilt.
Shortly after I found my first geocache and was making my way to the next, I had to get off and push my bike for a stretch. The 2013 flood scoured the hard-packed clay/pebble surface off the trail and left larger river rocks behind. It was just a little too rough for my city bike, but would have been fine on a mountain bike.
There’s a nice mix of gravel and paved pathways in Griffith Woods. It’s on the City’s southern edge and borders land owned by the Tsuu T’ina First Nation, so feels more remote than it actually is. Bears and coyotes occasionally wander through. The deer that frequent our back yard probably spend time in the Elbow River Valley here, too. There are a couple of side channels to the Elbow River that meander through Griffith Woods. Kids and dogs were splashing in the water at several spots, a nice way to cool off on an early summer day.
Do you have a favourite Calgary bike ride? Looking for new ideas, so please share with a comment.
Total distance = 18 km
Total time = 2 hrs, including 40 minutes for geocaching and photo stops
Total gain = 170 meters
Total geocaches found = 9
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