Great Easter weekend hikes and bikes in and around Calgary

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Great Easter weekend hikes and bikes in and around Calgary

There are some pretty sure bets this weekend: brunches will be eaten, chocolate will be consumed, a beverage or ten will possibly be consumed. The weather? That's a toss up. 

Regardless of whether it's snowy, rainy, or sunny, this weekend still provides a perfect opportunity to shake off the winter cobwebs and get out into nature, even if that means staying in the city. 

Here are some suggestions for hikes and bike rides to help get in the spirit of spring, courtesy of some kindly Twitter users and Lori Beattie, the author of Calgary's Best Walks.

Glenmore Reservoir

Riding around Calgary's reservoir is, according to one Twitter user, "easily the best nature bang/kilometre in the city and doable by casual/children cyclists."

Looping around Calgary's largest body of water takes you from the wilds of the Weaslehead, past Heritage Park and to some good picnic spots in North and South Glenmore parks. 

Beattie calls it a "great way to burn off some chocolate, or ham or turkey or whatever you're eating this weekend, if that's your motivation."

Highway 66 and Highway 546

Closed to vehicle traffic until May, Highway 66 just west of Elbow Falls provides a great opportunity to pedal through the mountains along the Elbow River without worrying about mud and treacherous terrain.

The same is true of Highway 546 west of Turner Valley, where the road is closed just after the Sally McNabb campground, which takes you through the foothills. 

Take advantage of the shoulder season before the motorhomes come rolling in. 

Mount Yamnuska

​Beattie says doing the hike, not the scramble, up Mount Yamnuska is a good option at this time of year if you really want to get to the mountains. She recommends some ice cleats to slip on your shoes in case higher elevations have snow and ice. 

"That's always a great early season bet because it's south facing and the prairie crocuses are out on all the south-facing slopes right now," said Beattie. 

Plus you get a great view of the prairies, foothills and mountains if you make it to the top. 

Glenbow Ranch and Ann and Sandy Cross

If you don't want to travel far, but still feel like you're miles from the city, Beattie recommends a stroll through Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, sandwiched between Calgary and Cochrane, or the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area southwest of the city. 

Glenbow Ranch is a rolling landscape along the Bow River that still functions as a working ranch, so watch out for the cattle. 

The Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation area is a private refuge open to the public, but those hoping to take in its natural wonders have to register first. 

Fish Creek Park 

Within the city limits, no list would be complete without mentioning Fish Creek Park. 

"Fish Creek Park right now, I was there a few days ago, is looking really nice. The west end was a bit mucky, but if you stay on the paved paths you're fine right to the east end where it's a bit more open," said Beattie.

As an added bonus, Annie's Cafe at the Bow Valley Ranche restaurant is open, depending on the weather.  

"I think when the weather's a bit iffy, if you can motivate with a destination, a stop, people are more inclined to come," said Beattie.

Riverwalk loop

If you'd really prefer an urban experience, Beattie recommends strolling along the Riverwalk near East Village and having a picnic on St. Patrick's Island or just eating at the Simmons Building. She said you can do a great loop by walking from East Village, crossing over the Peace Bridge and finally walking up the escarpment toward Crescent Heights. 

Big bike loop

If you're feeling really adventurous and you don't have small kids along for the ride (at least not on their own bike), you could tackle a bigger urban ride that takes to the reservoir, Fish Creek, Nose Creek and the Bow River valley. 

There are several options, including starting at Edworthy Park and finishing at Nose Creek Parkway, or closing the loop by riding from Edworthy, south past the reservoir and through Fish Creek and then back again following the Bow River. 

The ride can be over 70 kilometres, so limber up for this one.