A NW Bike Ride Guide for Families, Fitness and Fun on Wheels
May 12, 2019
Discover the joy of biking with these family-friendly routes
Coast into National Bike Month, May 1 – 31! Now is the perfect time for pedal pushers – novices and experts alike – to hop on a bike and traverse the trails in our corner of the city. Bike paths abound, the Northwest makes it a breeze to discover new byways and neighbourhoods, to explore sanctuaries and see the city sights.
To help you and the family — especially your little ones — get pedalling, we sat down with Andrel Reid, former owner and chief idea officer with NOMAD to get the scoop on Northwest routes all can enjoy this spring, summer and fall. An avid cyclist with more than 40 years of riding experience and a true passion for the sport, Andrel shares his top scenic NW stops, fun local jaunts and a few safety tips!
Whether you’re a city commuter, mountain biker or a new rider starting out on your great two-wheeled adventure, University District is close to some of Calgary’s most beautiful rides with distant mountain views and tree lined paths. Let’s take a look at Andrel’s suggestions!
Are you new to cycling? Easing into biking to work, school and beyond doesn’t have to be an uphill journey, especially with our guide for beginner cyclists. From finding the right bike to gearing up, we’ve got you covered. Happy riding!
For the novice: Beginner route
Looking for a leisurely bike ride in a green urban setting? This Northwest route located just minutes from University District offers an easy and amazing scenic trail that’s suitable for beginner riders of all ages.
Numerous entry points and minimal traffic make this an appealing starting location for your bike adventure. With winding paths throughout campus grounds, feel the wind in your hair and take the curves of the trail without feeling unsafe as you acquaint yourself with your new two-wheeled ride.
Tip: Begin your adventure on a high-quality, new rental bike available from the University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre (near Lot 10). They have everything from high-performance road bikes, tandems and hybrid to even e-bikes for those looking to add zip to their ride!
Avid cyclist and former chief idea officer of NOMAD, Andrel Reid traversing the trails in Northwest Calgary!
Stretch your legs at Canmore Park, where hiking and biking trails abound! Take a load off at any of the picnic tables or benches or squeeze in a game of catch. On a hot summer’s day, cool down at the spray park!
Tip: Fill up on fluids at one of several watering stations. Staying hydrated during rides – long or short – is important.
Take a break and chow down on a good old-fashioned burger at this family-friendly local favourite that’s just six minutes by bike from Canmore Park. This family owned and operated establishment has been grilling up burgers to perfection since the 1970’s and you can tell they set the bar high!
Tip: Pair your flame-broiled burger with a side order of poutine and a rich, creamy milkshake for a real indulgence. They are fan favourites for a reason!
Confederation Park is an ideal destination for kids and adults alike to throw sticks and skip rocks.
Burn off those guilty pleasures and use the extra energy to your advantage! Pedal down Carol Drive N.W. and roll into Confederation Park, an idyllic 162-hectare green space that’s home to tennis courts, baseball diamonds and playground areas. We may be biased, but the park’s extensive cycling and walking trails offer some of the most picturesque scenery in the city. If you have time to spare, stop by the creek that runs through Confederation Park. It’s an ideal destination for kids and adults alike to throw sticks and skip rocks!
Tip: For your post-ride reward, pop into Higher Ground Café for a sweet treat as you head back to your starting point near University of Calgary. We recommend the Toasted Banana Walnut Bread!
Suitable for: Families with children and cyclists of all levels.
Time: ~40 minutes round trip
There’s no better way to enjoy the sunshine and explore your neighbourhood than with a relaxing bike ride. Before you head out on the trails with friends and family, consider these simple tips and tricks to tune up your bike from our friends at BowCycle.
For the adventurer: Intermediate Route
On days when you need a break from the stresses of urban life, a ride – with family in tow – along our beautiful riverside can do wonders! Meant for experienced riders, this bike tour gives cyclists a fun journey through the Northwest.
Tune your bike up, check your Google map and start your journey west! Pedalling to the city’s westside is made easy with scenic bike paths that lead you to some of the Northwest’s most treasured sights. Just down the hill from U/D, this beautifully landscaped area is surrounded by walking and hiking trails, cycling trails, playgrounds, an outdoor fitness park and even offers free parking (first come first serve!).
Tip: A morning coffee stop at Angels’ Café is a cherished tradition for cyclists and park goers. Do say: “Espresso doppio, per favore!” Sip and savour as your kids enjoy playtime at one of four playgrounds located at Edworthy Park.
Ride along the river bike path to Shouldice Park, an outdoor space for leisure-time activities. Set on 28 hectares that border the river and stretch to Montgomery, Shouldice Park offers something for everyone, including, running and biking trails, play areas, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and more! Soak in the sunshine with a game of toss or for the more active take a swing or two at the batting cages!
Tip: Find your outdoor playful side and visit the park’s newly opened accessible playground where fun-seekers of all ages and abilities can enjoy sport and play together!
Did you know University District is home to an inclusive playground? This Playcore National Demonstration Site includes features to attract and delight fun-seekers of all ages and abilities. Keep reading here to find out what gives this new park that special Northwest of Normal-U/D touch!
Noshing options are aplenty in Bowness, an authentic prairie town that’s full of rich history. Nestled in the heart of the community, this Calgary Northwest gem serves up fresh, hand tossed pizza creations that are brimming with bold flavours and uses only the freshest of ingredients. It’s the ideal casual place to stop, rest your legs and fuel up!
Tip: While there, we recommend that you try the popular and delicious Riders Pizza, with ingredients such as spicy Italian sausages, beef, pepperoni, chorizo sausage and more.
Take a mid-ride rest stop at Bowmont Park, known for its dramatic cliffs that boast spectacular Instagram-worthy views of the city. Beloved by locals, this semi-hidden gem includes an off-leash dog park, soccer fields, bushy off-shore islands, hiking trails and more. For the adventurers, explore the west side of the park with its mature riverine forest and abundance of flora and fauna!
Tip: Visit Dale Hodges Park, Northwest Calgary’s newest natural environment park! Opening in June, the park aptly named after former city Alderman Dale Hodges will be a green oasis for those looking to play in the outdoors.
Visiting Seasons of Bowness is a must when stopping by Bowness Park!
Continue pedalling west, riding across the 85thStreet pedestrian bridge over the Bow River. Meander on bike along the riverbank and through acres of parkland and picnic areas to arrive at Bowness Park, a popular destination for locals and tourists looking for a place to toss a frisbee, go canoeing, meet friends and soak up the sunshine!
Tip: Grab a drink from Seasons of Bowness or make your own party by packing a picnic the whole family can enjoy! Plan ahead and stop by Save-On-Foods for some healthy meals to go that make for the perfect addition to any picnic!
Suitable for: Families with children and intermediate-level cyclists.
Time: ~60 minutes round trip
Safety on wheels: 3 tips!
With summer around the corner, kids, parents and grandparents are heading outside to savour Calgary’s long sun-filled days. Before you pull your bike out of the garage or rent one from the nearest bike shop, here are three quick tips to follow to stay safe on two wheels.
Bright clothes and reflective gear are your friends! Colours such as neon yellow, lime green and orange are going to be much more noticeable to drivers than the traditional shades worn day after day. It’s best to avoid biking at night, but if you go out after dark or at dusk or dawn, be sure to wear reflective gear!
Tip: A roll of reflective tape is great for adding more visibility to a helmet, jacket, bike, or any other gear you may want to make more visible and can be purchased from your community home hardware, department or sports store.
Drink, drink, drink. Then drink some more!
Whether you prefer a water bottle, sports drink or a hydration backpack, make sure you pack some fluid before jaunting out on your two-wheeled adventure. Coconut water is a refreshing alternative if you’re craving a more flavourful, healthy beverage. It will liven up your tastebuds and is a natural refresher! If riding with little ones, be sure to bring snacks. They burn a lot of energy and their little legs can wear out fast!
Tip: Freeze bottles the night before. A bottle of ice-cold water makes a refreshing drink, especially when riding under the blazing, hot sun. For a flavourful citrus twist, forgo ice cubes and add frozen lime and orange slices. They make the perfect substitute!
Wear a properly fitted helmet
Wearing a helmet that fits well is important. It should fit snugly around your head, but shouldn’t be so tight you are uncomfortable. The side straps should form a “V” shape just below your ears and always be fastened. Whether you’re only riding a short distance or spending an afternoon taking in the sights on bike, wear a helmet every time you ride!
Tip: Don’t own your own bike helmet? Purchase one at a local NW department store or rent one at University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre, Sports Rent or Bow Cycle and Sports! Remember, helmets have a shelf life so it’s better to be safe than sorry and buy or rent one instead of reaching for that dust-covered helmet hanging in the garage.
Whatever way you pedal the city, biking can take you to the biggest tourist attractions and the most out-of-the-way corners of Northwest Calgary. Whether you’re new to the sport or a pro, there are a myriad of trails to explore our neck of the woods. Take the leap and start your two-wheeled adventure!
Get outside and explore Northwest Calgary’s many bike trails, parks and hidden gems! Do you have any trail suggestions, tips or recommendations to make your bike adventure even better? Share your suggestions with us and the community on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.