Pummelled by rain, hail while cycling Calgary's trails

Calgary's cycling trails

With apologies to Charles Dickens and his Tale of Two Cities, it was the best of e-biking. It was the worst of e-biking.

As our group of Kelowna e-bikers raced south on Rotary-Mattamy Greenway in SE Calgary, the temperature plummeted from 29 C to 10 C, lightning flashed, thunder clapped and a few raindrops splashed across the asphalt trail.

As we huddled under nearby trees (the worst shelter in a thunderstorm), a female voice urged: "Let's make a run for it!"

The worst was yet to come. Torrential rain soaked our summer attire within seconds. Then came sheets of rain mixed with pelting hail. Crouched under the next thin bush, the Sheriff rolled up the front of his cycling jersey and wrung out a stream of fresh moisture (to laughter).

As the shower diminished, the now-familiar cry was heard again: "Let's make a run for it!" Repeat of above scenario. Rain/hail 2.0. It could have been even worse,10 tornadoes were reported across the province.

The two secrets to exploring Calgary's multitude of trails are local knowledge and local maps. Fortunately, Kelowna cycling buddies Steve and Sylvia called the city home for 30 years. E-bike guide Kent from West Kelowna had explored while visiting his son. By chance, the Sheriff found free copies of the 2021 Pathways and Bikeways Walk and Roll Map at a bike shop (maps.calgary.ca/PathwaysandBikeways).

If you plan to visit Calgary and cycle this summer, here are a few hints about the trails you might never discover on your own.

First a warning, Calgary isn't all flat.

The Rotary-Mattamy Greenway—145 kilometres encircling the city and connecting 55 communities—is the longest urban pathway and park in the world. It now provides access to more than 1,000 kilometres of other trails.

Fish Creek Provincial Park, a sprawling wilderness park in the middle of the city of 1.3 million, is a backcountry jewel where you could cycle all day right from your neighbourhood. And we did.

The Glenmore Reservoir not only serves trail users with its 15.3-kilometre paved loop, but aquatic conveyances of all types. No swimming, however. There’s a $500 fine.

The Bow River Pathway on both sides of the city's main waterway has never-ending panoramas. There were headwinds strong enough to knock over an e-bike and choking wildfire smoke but c’est la vie. C'est Alberta.

Don't even get the Sheriff started on Twelve Mile Coulee natural environment park, a bird watchers' paradise in Dale Hodges Park and numerous ravine trails, all connected by side trails for hours-long bike outings.

Best of all, if you need emergency assistance, the city has installed more than 400 emergency locator signs, one kilometre apart, each with a specific number which tells an emergency communications officer your location.

Love the Calgary trails. Alberta weather, not so much.

Last summer, the Sheriff was introduced to Lori Beattie (fitfrog.ca) who had just released her new guidebook, Calgary’s Best Bike Rides and Trails. The Sheriff should have popped by to pick up a copy. Sorry.


The City of Kelowna wants resident input to identify new route opportunities within Kelowna’s existing and future bike network.

Two routing studies are underway, the first on how best to incorporate neighbourhood bikeways into the larger network. Neighbourhood bikeways are typically located on streets with low traffic volumes, and speeds where people biking and driving can safely share the road.

You can complete a quick survey, comment on a map, or ask a question, until July 2 at getinvolved.kelowna.ca/neighbourhood-bikeways.

The second is the Glenmore Active Transportation Corridor project to provide an improved connection between Glenmore Drive and High Road and the Okanagan Rail Trail, where it crosses Glenmore Drive at Spall Road. There are three routing options, uni-directional protected bike lanes on both sides of Glenmore Drive, bi-directional protected bike lanes on the east side of Glenmore Drive and a neighbourhood bikeway through the Old Glenmore neighbourhood.

That deadline on that project is also July 2 and can be submitted at getinvolved.kelowna.ca/glenmore-atc


A quick reminder that the Southern Interior's four major downhill resorts have launched, or are about to launch, their summer activities.

Big White Ski Resort starts its season on Thursday (June 29) with the adrenaline-fueled B.C. Cup Weekend on June 30 to July 2. For more info, go to bigwhite.com/summer. It's open Thursdays to Sundays and holiday Mondays.

The Big White village centre has undergone a massive transformation, including end-to-end paving stones, reducing summer watering by an incredible 300,000 litres annually. There's a new patio area at The Woods restaurant and a bandstand gazebo for community gatherings, events, concerts and fairs.

SilverStar Mountain Resort opened its Bike Park June 23 with a huge number of weekend events such as live music from Daniel McFayden from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. today (June 25) and the North Okanagan Hospice Society Hike for Hospice also goes today (June 25) at 10 a.m.

You can buy SilverStar's 2023-24 winter season passes at a discount online until June 30, as well as split the cost into six interest-free payments.

Sun Peaks Bike Park opened June 16, with Maritime Kitchen Party to launch the free summer concert series July 1 on the Village Stage. The full event calendar is at sunpeaksresort.com/events-things-to-do/events.

The Revelstoke Bike Park, B.C.’s newest lift-accessed trail network, with more than 50 kilometres of trails, was the first in the Southern Interior to open (May 20). The second track of the Pipe Mountain Coaster opened June 24.

If you are heading to Whistler, the Summer Concert Series kicks off July 1 with Canadian treasures Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, featuring musical guests Daniel Lanois and Terra Lightfoot.


In the South Okanagan, Joni Reimer is taking over as centre manager for the Osoyoos Desert Centre. She was previously research manager at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Man.

Conservation guides Larissa Thelin and Kaylee Lemeister are returning for a second summer season and high school student Vriti Bakshi will join them as an admissions volunteer in July and August.

This summer, the ODC will launching a citizens science project to map and record the mortality of animals around the centre on 146th Avenue. The research will be used to look at options to mitigate these deaths.

Those interested in participating should contact Reimer at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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