I love exploring new places by bike, and lately I’ve been doing the same in my hometown. Calgary has an extensive network of bike paths that can take you from the downtown core to almost anywhere you want to go. Exploring Calgary by bike on the Bow River Pathway is one of the best ways to experience the city.
The Bow River Pathway, near Eau Claire, downtown Calgary.
- I can cover a lot more ground by bike than walking.
- It’s easier to stop and explore interesting places than it is by car.
- I seem to discover more new places by bike than by walking or by car.
- It’s a good workout. At least it offsets the bakery I’m bound to discover along the way.
- It’s fun!
The Bow River Pathway
This route is a favourite of mine, and follows the Bow River Pathway from Edworthy Park at the west end, through downtown Calgary, to Pearce Estate Park at the east end. It passes by some of the inner city’s most interesting neighborhoods, including Kensington, downtown’s Eau Claire and East Village, and historic Inglewood. There are plenty of places near the path to stop for a bite, or have a cold drink on a patio. Several parks along the way provide a green break from the city, and also make a nice spot for a picnic.
The ride is about 12 km one way, and takes about 40 minutes at a moderate pace. But you could spend all day depending on stops you make along the way. The Bow River pathway runs along both sides of the river, so it’s easy to do a loop of about 24 km, and you can start your loop at any point. There are also several bridges along the way so you can make your ride shorter or longer. There is free parking at Edworthy Park if you’re driving. For more details, here’s a link to the route on Google Maps.
There is a lot of art on display along the Bow River Pathway, including this sculpture in the revitalized East River district.
Inglewood is Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods; and one of Calgary’s most interesting areas to explore, with unique shops, antiques, and restaurants. Ninth Ave, originally Main Street is just a couple blocks from the bike path. I’m hiding out here from a rain shower that left as quick as it came.
Near Inglewood looking towards downtown Calgary.
Pearce Estate Park – An unexpected scene a fifteen minute ride from downtown Calgary.
Mama and her babies at Pearce Estate Park
Eating Along the Way
Any food you eat while out on a bike ride doesn’t count, right?
- Parkdale: Lazy Loaf and Kettle (breakfast, lunch and fresh baked goods), Leavitt’s Ice Cream Shop
- Kensington: Many pubs and restaurants to choose from, including Higher Ground for coffee, Vero Bistro Moderne (on 10 St), and Julio’s Barrio.
- Prince’s Island Park: The River Cafe is splurge-worthy, both for its food and setting in the park. Their early bird dinner is a good value.
- Downtown: Several places in the Eau Claire area, and many more throughout downtown, including on 8th Ave (the Stephen Avenue Mall).
- East Village: Right next to the bike path, check out the Simmons Building, with options for dining in or takeout: Charbar, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters.
- Inglewood: Again, many options, including Spolumbo’s (for deli sandwiches), Minh Chau Vietnamese, and Choklat for an excellent chocolate fix.
Here are four bike rental places near the route.
- Eau Claire Rapid Rent Eau Claire Market 200 Barclay Parade SW, phone: (403) 444-5845
- Rath Bicycle, East Village, Calgary, phone: (403) 617-5627
- River Wheels, 720 3 St NW, Calgary, phone: (403) 457-2453
- Sports Rent 4424 16 Ave NW, phone: (403) 292-0077
For further information on the City of Calgary’s Bike Paths click here.