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Calgary boasts the largest pathway system in North America. Nearly every day of the year, regardless of the weather, you can find Calgarians running, walking, riding, rolling and even skiing along 223 miles (360 kilometers) of paths. The network twists its way through countless municipal parks, alongside rivers and reservoirs, past skyscrapers, into valleys and through mini-forests, fields of wildflowers and other surprises. Use of the pathways is absolutely free. Maps are available from several outlets.
Whether your idea of outdoor adventure is a multi-day mountain expedition or an afternoon of in-line skating, the Outdoor Program Centre at the University of Calgary will have you outfitted. The center offers everything from hiking trips to cross-country ski outings, first aid courses to bicycle repair clinics, and sea kayaking tours to avalanche survival training. Its rental department loans out equipments of all kinds, whether you need a camping stove or a canoe. Prices are reasonable and the staff seems to know everything about everything.
Located at the base of an escarpment created by an ancient and much mightier Bow River, Douglas Fir Trail is part of Edworthy Park. Picnic and playground areas are suitable for families or larger groups, and a running or cycling path tracks closely to the river. The trail is a reasonably short but strenuous hike up and down a series of steps and walkways placed between the bases of beautiful, towering fir trees.
Situated on the Glenmore Reservoir, Glenmore Sailing School is the largest sailing school in Canada. Instructor-led sailing programs are offered May through November, and a popular program of sailing lessons for junior high and high school students are organized during May, June, September, and October. Visitors can rent boats for sailing excursions on double occupancy junior boats, or the “Jane Mary," a 22-foot sloop-rigged Catalina day cruiser fit for up to eight adults. Boats are rented on a first-come, first-serve basis and cannot be reserved. Please note, the sailing school rents boats daily from July through October, and usually on the weekends during others parts of the year.
Fish Creek Provincial Park is Canada's largest urban park, covering much of the south side of the city and dividing established and newer suburbs. The park features no organized recreational grounds, with day usage intended instead for walking, cycling or picnicking, although tobogganing is popular in the winter. At the far east and south end is the man-made Lake Sikome beach and swimming area. The Fish Creek Environmental Learning Center, at the west end of the park, is intended primarily for school groups. At the east end, the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Center, a small bakery cafe, and a more upscale sit-down restaurant, dubbed The Ranch, greet visitors.
This artificial lake nestled in the Fish Creek Provincial Park is a popular family picnic destination. The pools, playgrounds, its lovely beach makes for a perfect weekend getaway or a fun-filled day with your gang of friends or family.
One of the world's great equestrian facilities is located in the rolling ranch lands just south of Calgary's city limits. Built and maintained by the Southern family, this sprawling site is now home to some of the world's top show-jumping events. The facilities are also a year-round attraction for horse-lovers and aspiring competitive riders. Competitions occur on six different grass rings, including the main venue that can seat 30,000 spectators for events. Four major competitions take place during the season, the biggest of which occurs in mid-September.
Muller Windsports, founded by the Muller family gliding enthusiasts, organizes paragliding, hang gliding, and kite handling lessons from the top of Cochrane Hill, just west of Calgary. The hangar and sales center has a fully-stocked equipment store and repair shop dealing in water and wind kites, hang glider stock, accessories, and the latest in gliding and kiting gear. Cochrane Hill is a good place for soaring and training, strategically situated high above the prairies east of the Rocky Mountain Foothills and exposed to strong winds from three directions.