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In the city of Calgary, we are fortunate to have a lot of excellent parks and hiking trails where it’s easy to escape the concrete jungle for a couple of hours and mindfully tune into the natural world.

If you want to do some forest bathing in Calgary, there are some excellent hiking trails to explore along the Bow River and Elbow River valleys which are much more lush and forested than the rest of the city.

Forests are important for not only recycling the carbon dioxide we exhale by converting it into fresh oxygen, but they also have a therapeutic effect on our minds and bodies when we walk mindfully in the trees.

The self-similar branching fractal structure of trees and plants creates a symmetry and consistency that relaxes the mind and being in green spaces creates a soft fascination effect that opens up our awareness.

Here are 7 hiking trails within the city of Calgary’s park system where you can unplug for a couple of hours and immerse yourself in awe-inspiring natural forest landscapes without having to drive to the Canadian Rockies.

If you’re interested in some foundational practices for forest bathing and practicing mindfulness in nature, you can read this post on mindful hiking.

1. Fish Creek Provincial Park

Distance: 17.5 km (loop)
Time: 4.5-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Map: AllTrails

If you’re looking for a good workout, 8th Tracks Fish Creek Trail is a 17.5 km loop trail, which is probably the longest and most challenging hiking trail in the city of Calgary. The trail is in good condition and you can hike it year-round although in the winter you’ll want spikes to do it.

If you’re looking for a shorter hike in Fish Creek Provincial Park, the Voltier Flats, Bebo Grove, Bow Valley Ranch Loop and the Deer Run Trail are also excellent hikes. There are pockets of beautiful forest in the Fish Creek area that are excellent for forest bathing and nature therapy.

2. Edworthy Park

Distance: 4.3 km (return)
Time: 1-2 Hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Map: AllTrails

This is a moderately challenging route along the Bow River that is good to walk year-round. The Douglas Fir Trail in Edworthy Park is a particularly good place to slow down and practice mindful forest bathing in nature.

If you’re looking for a longer and more challenging hike in this area along the Bow River, you can cross the river from Edworthy Park and hike to Bowmont Park on hiking trails in about 5 hours.

3. Griffith Woods

Distance: 6.1 km (return)
Time: 1-2 Hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Map: AllTrails

This is one of my favourite spots to get my nature fix in the city of Calgary. Less than a 20-minute drive from downtown, the Griffith Woods is one of the most beautiful forests in the city for practicing mindfulness in nature.

For forest bathing and hiking, the Griffith Woods outer trail is a 6.1 km loop that passes through wetlands, forests and pathways along the Elbow River and it takes about 1.5 hours to complete the full loop.

4. Nose Hill

Distance: 12.6 km (loop)
Time: 3-3.5 Hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Map: AllTrails

If you’re looking for a long walk through the grassy meadows of Nose Hill, the East Nose Hill Loop is an excellent 12.6 km loop trail that covers the most beautiful parts of the park. I love mindfully walking here in the summer among the wildflowers and slowing down in the small pockets of forest scattered throughout this massive park.

This is a great spot for bird watching and there are excellent views of the Calgary skyline in the distance. It’s also a great place to watch the sunrise over the vast prairie land to the east or the sunsets over the frontal ranges of the Canadian Rockies.

5. Bowmont Park

Distance: 10 km (loop)
Time: 2-3 Hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Map: AllTrails

In the northwest part of the city of Calgary, the Bowmont Park Pathway is my favourite hike. The trails and lookouts here offer sweeping views of the Bow River and the Canadian Rockies in the distance.

This is also a great spot for trail running and mountain biking that you visit year-round. If you cross the bridge near the Bow River Bridge Lookout, there are also some excellent hiking trails in Bowness Park just across the river.

6. Glenmore Reservoir Park

Distance: 15.3 km (loop)
Time: 3-4 Hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Map: AllTrails

The Glenmore Reservoir Park Trail is a 15.3 km loop that makes it one of the longest hiking trails in the city of Calgary that you can easily hike year-round.

This is a great spot in the city for mindful birdwatching, cross-country skiing and hiking — especially along the beautiful forested trails on the west side of the Glenmore Reservoir in the Weaselhead Flats.

7.  Prince’s Island

Distance: 4.8 km (loop)
Time: 1-1.5 Hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Map: AllTrails

If you’re in downtown Calgary and you’re looking for some relief from the concrete jungle, Prince’s Island is a natural oasis along the Bow River right beside in the downtown area that you can hike around in 30 – 40 minutes.

If you’d like a longer hike, there’s a Bow River Pathway 4.8 km loop that goes from Prince’s Island along the Bow River Pathway South then crosses the river and returns on the Bow River Pathway North to where you started.

The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and the Pearce Estate are also good places to walk near downtown especially if you like gardens.

If you’d like a bigger macro doses of nature therapy, there are excellent forests around Kananaskis, Canmore, Dead Man’s Flats and Banff. You can find my post on forest bathing in Banff and the Canadian Rockies below.

Kyle Pearce

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