Griffith Woods is a beautiful Natural Environment Park located just off Highway 8 in southwest Calgary. Adjacent to the Elbow River, many of the trails and bridges in the park were damaged or washed away in the 2007 flood and again in the 2013 flood. Most of the damage has been repaired, but some of the trails are still challenging to ride if you’re pedaling a road or hybrid bike instead of a mountain bike.
I’ve been cycling a lot more than usual this fall, due to a nagging foot injury that prompted my doctor to prescribe six weeks of no hiking or taekwondo and as little walking as possible. Given my love of being out and about, it’s been a challenge to follow doctor’s orders and I’m very thankful she said cycling was okay. In addition to some cycle commuting to/from downtown and a long ride around the Glenmore Reservoir, my exercise program one afternoon this fall included riding from home, through Griffith Woods and back.
The fall colours in the Elbow Valley were at their absolute best, beautifully complemented by a fantastic blue sky. To gain a better vantage point, I cycled to the far east end of Griffith Woods and then up the gravel track to the constructed Elbow Valley Wetland located just off highway 8 between 69th Street and Glenmore Trail. It’s been several years since I last visited the wetland and I’m sorry to report it’s badly in need of refurbishment. Since these wetlands were completed in 1999, it’s not all that surprising that they need some care and attention.
Anyhow, it was well worth pedaling my 11-speed hybrid bike up the steep hill. The views were fantastic:
As I headed back towards Griffith Woods, I paused at the top of the access road to watch a hawk over the river.
From there, it was all about the exercise, as I rode about 5 km to the far west end of Griffith Woods. I discovered that at least one trail needs upgrading before it’ll be a comfortable ride on anything other than a mountain bike. And at one point there was a large tree down across the trail. Eventually I emerged from the park at the far west end of Discovery Ridge Boulevard and then I pedaled for home, uphill all the way!
My total riding distance was 21 km, including 9 km in Griffith Woods. If you plan to visit Griffith Woods and are coming from another part of Calgary, there are two main parking areas. The largest one is located at the end of Discovery Ridge Link SW and there are seasonal washroom facilities here. There’s a smaller parking area (no facilities) at the far west end of Discovery Ridge Boulevard SW.
Griffith Woods is also a great place for walking and geocaching. Remember though, it’s a Natural Environment Park which means sticking to the trails and staying alert for wildlife. Coyotes and bears are sometimes seen in the area.