Calgary by Bike on the Bow River Pathway

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

The Bow River Pathway, near Eau Claire, downtown Calgary.

Why Bike?

  • 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.

Calgary Bike Map

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.

Art along the Bow River Pathway

There is a lot of art on display along the Bow River Pathway, including this sculpture in the revitalized East River district.

Historic Inglewood

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

Near Inglewood looking towards downtown Calgary.

Pearce Estate Park

Pearce Estate Park – An unexpected scene a fifteen minute ride from downtown Calgary.

Mama and her babies at Pearce Estate Park

Mama and her babies at Pearce Estate Park

Eating Along the Way

Delicious Albacore Tuna from the River Cafe, Prince's Island Park

Delicious Albacore Tuna from the River Cafe, Prince’s Island Park

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.

19 replies
  1. Suzanne Fluhr
    Suzanne Fluhr says:

    Good biking opportunities seem to be a sure sign of civilization, so, of course, it’s not shocking that a Canadian city like Calgary has its public biking act together. We’re even trying in Philadelphia! (I’m totally with you on the need to refuel frequently to keep your strength up while engaging in outdoor exercise.)

  2. Alouise
    Alouise says:

    I live in Edmonton, so I usually come down to Calgary a couple of times a year. I never really thought to rent a bike to explore the city, but it looks like a nice option.

    • Shelley
      Shelley says:

      The paths go everywhere but I especially like the river paths as there are no big hills to climb. Likewise I haven’t explored Edmonton by bike but maybe I should!

    • Shelley
      Shelley says:

      I’ve lived in Calgary 40 years and didn’t know Pearce Estate Park existed until I recently followed that bike path a little further than usual. It’s nice to find a new place in your own town.

  3. santafetraveler
    santafetraveler says:

    Great photos- I’m not a bicyclist but I love to eat. Calgary seems to have great food. Every once in a while I catch one on the Food Network and we had a guest post on brunch places on the Edmonton Trail. Would love to eat my way through the city!

    • Shelley
      Shelley says:

      Thanks Billie! I think Calgarians are really open to trying new foods. Besides the beef we’re known for, it’s very multicultural here and you can find almost anything. And I agree there are some great brunch places on Edmonton Trail!

  4. jane canapini
    jane canapini says:

    Love that you included fine fare as a reward for all that cycling! I was in Calgary years ago, and brought my rollerblades to do the trail, and even chose my B&B because it was right opposite the river. Great path!

  5. Catherine Sweeney
    Catherine Sweeney says:

    I’m totally with you on loving to explore by bike — especially on the flatter trails. I just don’t get enough opportunities to do it. Calgary looks like an awesome place to get cycling. It also looks like I’d have some great food options along the way and it’s always fun for me to come across public art in places I visit.

  6. Elaine J. Masters
    Elaine J. Masters says:

    I usually veer away from exploring by bike in a big city but your pictures and suggestions make it seem like such a great way to see Calgary. Such a surprise to see the city too in summer!

    • Shelley
      Shelley says:

      We’ve had great weather in Calgary this spring. These bike paths feel fairly safe even though they run through the heart of the city, as they don’t compete with traffic and usually tunnel under the intersections.


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