Trail Running in Calgary
Where to run?!!!!
It has been almost 2 months since my last race. Off season consisted of six weeks of recovery and preparing myself for the new season. As many triathletes know, having time off from training is kind of the worst. Sure, lounging around is nice for a couple days but after that the itch to work out starts to creep back. Way back in the day when I was a young, fresh faced college kid, unaware of just how exhausting adulting is, I competed in x-country running. With knees that were unaffected by the weather and ankles that didn’t constantly crack I was able to effortlessly run through various terrain, storming up hills and gliding down them. Oh to be young.
Thanks to many hours spent with various chiropractors, physiotherapists, and doctors my body was healthy enough for me to get back into trail running this fall. One of the best parts of trail running is being able to explore new trails, especially when you have a fun furry friend as a companion. Our adventures have taken us throughout north west Calgary and Cochrane. After many weeks exploring here is a review of my top 5 favorite trails:
5) Glenbow Ranch
The ranch is located between Calgary and Cochrane on the 1A. There is a combination of paved and gravel trails with some descent hills. Miss Sadie loves the tall grass that borders the trails and the numerous prairie dogs that inhabit the area. The paved trails take you along the river while the gravel trails intersect with the paved trails to take you throughout the grassy hills. I’ve spent up to two and a half hours exploring this area and have yet to complete all the trails in one day. This route is good for a longer run.
4) 12 Mile Coulee
The trails are located within Tuscany and can be seen while driving on Stoney. The perimeter is about 5km and there are several different parallel trails. Every time I explore this area I somehow end up taking a new trail. There is a nice mixture of dirt trails surrounded by trees and more open, technical rocky trails. The single track trails are super rolly with a couple descent climbs. This route is good for a quick lung burner and can be made longer by doing several loops.
3) Cochrane Ranch
Cochrane Ranch is located just before highway 22 if taking the 1A from Calgary. Directly from the parking lot there is a 2km semi circle trail. These trails are relatively flat with several rolling sections. The first bit is out in the open while the second bit takes you into a forest. The trails here are soft dirt with a couple technical sections thanks to all the exposed roots. At the beginning of the trail are a set of massive stairs that can be taken to access more single track trails. This trail is good for an easier ride with some really pretty views.
The trails are located between 85th St NW and Home Road - I like to park at Home Road. It is a short run to Sideshow Bob - a technical single track trail on the side of a cliff. From there you can keep to the right and run through rolling grass hills. Or if your up for a challenge you can keep to the left (cross the paved trail) and run up and down the steep, hilly trails that border the river. Both routes will take you to a lookout point where you can see COP and the mountains in the distance. From there, the trails become rolling with lots of twists and turns. These trails are good if you want a longer, challenging run with a bunch of fun, technical sections.
1) Valley Ridge
The trails behind Valley Ridge are a hidden gem known to only a few people. They can be properly accessed by the parking lot just beyond the golf course. I managed to find an entrance about 2 minutes from my house. The first bit is extremely steep and downhill, with several wooden planks to help you get over the larger tree roots. From there, the path widens and takes you through a forest wonderland. The trail eventually takes you to a T intersection. Left takes you up to a farmer’s field where it dead ends. Right takes you through more forest. At the end of this trail there is a shallow section where you can cross the river and access more trails on the other side. This route is good if you want a technical run that consists of 90% hills and 10% flat. This is also Miss Sadie’s favorite run - we have spotted many squirrels, rabbits and deer.