“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'” — Lewis Carrol
Calgary January 2023: Wishing my fellow bloggers and readers a curiosity and adventure filled 2023 as the dreams of future ‘are better than the history of the past“.
This ‘ winter walk‘ post was scheduled for end December 2022 but somehow got pushed to 2023 as a prelude to fresh starts. With the oscillating travel pendulum energised, I indulged myself into booking a sun-soaking luxury stay at a resort in Cancun for end January. As starters😊 a little indulgence does not harm.
Neighbourhood Ramble: December 25, 2022, and a perfect mild weather (-2 C) to kick-snow the neighbourhood beckoned. Curiosity led us to Griffith Woods Park listed no.2 on https://curiocity.com/guide-10-beautiful-places-to-take-a-winter-walk-in-and-around-calgary/ . It was more for the intriguing blurb “Get that ‘in the middle of nowhere’ feeling – without ever even leaving the city! and the ‘ Wood’ wonder, with its snowy Christmassy freshness did not disappoint. Even the dogs appeared cheerful with their leashed shuffle in the snow.
The Park, a designated Special Protection Natural Environment Park, loops along Elbow River near the community of Discovery Ridge. It was created in the year 2000 on land donated by Wilbur Griffith and his wife Betty and named after them
The disadvantage of a snow walk in a new area is that one has to take the trodden path. We were slightly confused as to which trail to follow and at times the intersections did tempt. The sign boards are helpful to confirm that one is not straying. These must be particularly helpful in the Summer months as there is an advisory, at entrance, to be on the look-out for animals. As recently as Oct 22, 2022 a Bear sow and her two cubs were captured. The third cub managed to escape and the Park had closed down for its hunt. Though Griffith Park, with its wetlands and ponds, is child and dog friendly it is advisable to use GPS or Trail maps to find one’s way.
We come across a sign dividing City land from the Tsuu T’ina Reserve. I was tempted to go closer to ‘peep in’ but the intimidating wire fencing restricted me to taking photographs. Again curiosity as lately I have been binge watching YELLOWSTONE (TV series).
We stroll on, treading softly on the white coverlet lightly splattered with sunlight filtering through the thick foliage, and another surprise is the profusion of fallen trees. Beavers are active but somehow I could not imagine them responsible for all the fallen trees. In the 2013 city floods the Park had been under water and since then majority bridges and paths have been repaired. There are some broken paths, thankfully camouflaged by snow. The paved main path runs the length of the park east to west and is flat and easy to walk and explore. The Elbow River is the attraction and we take a break soaking in the ambiance and admiring the ice Inukshuk or sculpture, probably the work of children.
We restricted ourselves to the main path but somehow in search of a quick exit found ourselves on a bridle path cutting across the snowy field. Instead of continuing on the loop or following the huge transmission line going down the middle, a marker, we took a wrong intersection. There were few more stragglers, like us, so was not worried of a frosty rendezvous with a lone bear or a coyote.
As we return to the parking lot I look forward to hiking in Summer, to wade in the crystal clear waters of the meandering creeks and Elbow river and to explore the mapped out trails under the cooling canopy of trees. Once the snow removes its protective covers the Griffith Woods Park is a profusion of flora and fauna and a bird watchers paradise. Wild orchids and roses flourish side by side with moose, deer, coyotes, weasels, beavers amidst White Spruce and Balsam forest. After all as the name implies it is ‘wood’ forest.
Trails: (Google map)
The Griffith Wood Park is a 93 hectares natural environment park with playground, soccer and baseball fields. The best way to explore is to follow the trails looping over bridges and flanking riverbanks. A recommendation…take photos of trail maps planted along intersections to help find your way back.
The best trails for an adventurous or family hike.
1. Griffith Woods Park Outer Loop: An easy walking trail flanked by trees along the Elbow River. Parking and washroom facilities at starting point.
2. Discovery Ridge and John Simonot Trail Loop ..4.8 km Loop easy and popular for birding, hiking and running open year long. Dogs are welcome but on leash. The trailhead is at the end of Discovery Ridge Link SW with intersecting side trails. A trail map is recommended to ensure safety. The Southern section of the loop runs through a rich mixed forest isolated but within the city.
3 John Simonot Trail: A 5.1 km trail along the crystal clear channels of the Elbow River
Things to do: Hiking, biking, running, picnicking, wading, nature exploration.