Nice hike in the Alberta Foothills

Quick Stats

Might as well start here, parking. The parking lot is intentionally limited to prevent too many people from visiting the area at any time. If the lot is full, they ask that you come back another time. Given how obscure this conservancy area is, I’m not sure it would be a problem. Only 3 cars here during our visit.
To use the area, you have to register and pay$10 per car. There is a long list of rules you must agree to that are designed to protect the area.
The hiking trails start beside the Belvedere education center. There are over 20km of trails to choose from. We went for the longest loop of 8.6Km. The map marked the Paradise loop as “strenuous” with 5 hills!
We visited in early spring, so the trees were still bare. I imagine late spring or early summer would be an ideal time to visit.
There are many benches and picnic tables along the way. Great place for a delicious beverage of sorts.
The Rockies make for a great backdrop. Sandy Cross, who this area is named after, was the son of A.E. Cross, one of the founding members of the Calgary Stampede. Sandy started purchasing land in this area in 1945.
Sandy and his wife Ann lived on this plot of land but watched as the Calgary suburbs moved towards them and the surrounding properties were divided into acreages. Concerned about the future of their beloved land they decided to preserve it.
In 1987 they donated 2000 acres of land to the province on the condition it be preserved as a conservancy. In 1996, they donated another 2800 acres for a total of 4800 acres in the conservancy.
The view to the east. The prairies seem to go on forever.
Traditional Summit Selfie!
All the trails are very well signed, and most intersections have maps. As you can see, the trails are not very worn down. I assume this is because they limit the number of people that can use the trails each day.
I found this prairie crocus right behind a sign about them, how often does that actually happen? I learnt that the prairie crocus blooms early in the spring so that it has less competition from other flowers for pollinators. It grows close to the ground to protect itself from cold and wind.
At high points in the area, you can see downtown Calgary in the distance. Unfortunately, both Sandy and Ann Cross have passed away, but their legacy continues. Thank you Sandy and Ann!


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