I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Nose Hill Park Calgary's Best Park
Nose Hill Park, in my opinion, is the best park in Calgary. I've stated elsewhere that the Glenbow Ranch Park is the best for Calgary and the area, however, that park is a little way west of Calgary. For a park that's directly in the city, Nose Hill Park should take the cake for trail enthusiasts.
This is a park that's hard to miss. If you are downtown or anywhere to the north of downtown, it's the hump on the north side of the city. There are numerous entry points to this park and that creates a lot of parking spots. Furthermore, you can visit this park many times and find a different route to take each time. It certainly is a roomy park and it's almost hard to believe how much valuable real estate has been set aside for the area.
In the following video, you'll get an idea of just how big the park is. Keep in mind while watching it that this park is bordered by Calgary neighbourhoods on all sides.
Nose Hill Park's Plateaued Grassland
Elevation Without a River Valley in Calgary Trails
For Calgary and most of the prairies, if you want a trail network that has some elevation, then you will likely find it in a river valley. For Calgary, elevation usually means looking for something along the Bow River.
Nose Hill Park is a little bit different in this regard. When I consider the big cities on the Canadian prairies of Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Regina, Nose Hill Park is the only park that I can think of that offers good elevation challenges but that isn't wrapped around a river or in a river valley.
I have been to Nose Hill Park numerous times and I prefer the entrance at 64th Avenue NW. Another nice feature of this park is that there isn't even the slightest whisper of a social problem. I've never come across any homelessness or signs of homelessness, like abandoned luggage. I can't say the same thing about Stanley Park in Vancouver or trails in river valleys on the prairies.
The following video was taken during the summer of 2020 at the parking lot for the 64th avenue entrance. As you can see this is a grassland park. That doesn't mean that there aren't forested areas in the park, however, the grass is the main plant covering the landscape. The video also shows you the trail map of the area.
Parking Lot and Trailhead for the 64th Avenue Entrance of Nose Hill Park
Viewpoints From Nose Hill Park
There is an old saying on the Canadian prairies. If your dog runs away, then you can watch it go for a week. The saying references the visibility of the distant horizon at many points on the prairie. When someone lost their dog in the past, they may, in fact, have been standing at the top of Nose Hill Park.
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If you have a nice camera, then you can get a really nice picture of downtown Calgary from Nosehill Park. If your dog is running that way, then you might be able to zoom in on him. You can also see the Rocky Mountains from some high points in the park.
There is a large plateau area 'on top' of this park that is flat and grassy. This area does not prevent any kind of hiking challenge, however, getting to it is a little bit of work.
There is also a bit of a pond on top of the park. However, with no water flowing into the area, this pond is entirely kept alive by rainwater or melted snow. I would think that it would evaporate during the dry season. Regardless, there isn't anywhere that you would go swimming in this park.
For pet owners, this park has sections that are off-leash and on-leash. I've also seen numerous cyclists in this park, however, it's not really dangerous for walking for the most part. You will want to keep your eyes peeled but the wide-open terrain will help you spot cyclists coming your way a lot of the time. I've never seen motorized transportation in this park.
Nose Hill Park is certainly one of the "can't miss" spots in Calgary for trail enthusiasts. If you are staying in the city, then I also recommend Beaver Dam Flats and the Weaselhead Flats area.
Nose Hill Park Viewpoints in Calgary
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 03, 2021:
Nice and informative article about Nose Hill Park Trails, in Calgary Alberta. This is a beautiful place, worth visiting.
Thanks you for the virtual tour through your pictures and videos.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 03, 2021:
This looks like a great park to visit within easy access from the city.