Supportive, cuddly and easily pleased a dog really does make the best companion to explore what Calgary and the Rocky Mountains have to offer. So hit the road this summer with your dog in tow with our suggestions for inner-city adventures, trips within an hour and one half-day drive. These five adventures include off-leash romps, easy hikes and a moderate backcountry trek. Exploring with your dog requires regular stops for pee and sniff breaks, which means more opportunity to refuel yourself. Make sure to pack water for your pooch, treats, waste bags and an extra leash.
Adventures in Calgary
Nose Hill Park
At 11 square kilometres, Nose Hill Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America. It’s huge off-leash, multi-use zone is the size equivalent of 424 football fields. The natural area is in Calgary’s northwest and you can see the downtown skyline, but it’s also easy to forget you’re inside the city. This park is large, but it does get very busy. There can be coyotes in the area, so keep a close eye on your dog when she’s off-leash.
Weaselhead Flats Natural Area
Weaselhead Flats is at the mouth of the Elbow River in southwest Calgary. In the park, the Elbow flows into the Glenmore Reservoir creating the cities only delta and is home to a variety of unique plants and animals. The paved trails of the 237-hectare natural area carve up and through White Spruce, Balsam Poplar and Trembling Aspen. Weaselhead is not an off-leash area, but is ideal for dogs happy to walk on-leash.
Adventures within an hour drive
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
At 30 minutes west of Calgary, Glenbow Ranch is an easy drive. The park used to be part of Cochrane Ranch and was also home to the Glenbow Quarry and Town. First Nations people used the area for 4,000 years before that. Choose from more than 25 kilometres of pathways for a scenic, historically interesting on-leash walk.
Pit stop: Refuel at Cochrane Coffee Traders for an iced latte and house made muffin.
114 2 Ave. W., Cochrane, 403-932-1695, coffeetraders.ca
Grassi Lakes, just outside of Canmore, is a popular hike and it’s easy to see why. The four-kilometre loop has two trail options that lead up to vivid turquoise lakes. Both routes are pretty gentle, but you have an option to opt for the “easy” route about 100 metres in, which is essentially a gravel fire road. The “harder” option offers more to see. It’s a pretty and accessible on-leash walk and just over an hour drive from Calgary. Go early to avoid crowds.
Pit stop: Stop at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. in Canmore before you start your hike – it opens at 7 a.m. – and load up on all day breakfast bagels. Try the Greek. Picnic at the top of Grassi Lakes.
830 8 St., Canmore, 403-678-9978, thebagel.ca
Adventures within two-hours
The Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse at Lake Louise is an intermediate hike that starts with a paved walk around the lake and then leads up towards Mount Victoria glacier. It’s an 11-kilometre round trip to the teahouse and takes between three and four hours. There is a glacier stream at the top that your dog can splash in.
This is a stunning backcountry on-leash hike that is worth an early trip because the trail can get crowded later in the day. The teahouse at the top is dog friendly, although you won’t be able to take your pooch inside, and serves tea, scones and more.
Pit stop: Grab a dense and chewy health cookie and a cup of locally-roasted Frog Friendly coffee from Laggan’s Mountain Bakery & Delicatessen in Lake Louise before you start your hike.
101 Village Rd., Lake Louise, 403-522-2017, laggans.com
Hiking gear for your dog
Instead of holding one end in your hands, this hands-free leash clips around your waist. It keeps your dog close and allows you stay balanced on narrow hiking trails.
Silicone foldable travel bowl
These bowls can be folded and stowed while you’re walking and then pulled out when your dog needs a water break.
For dogs that like to have a job, these backpacks rest along the spine with pockets on either side. You can pack water, waste bags, snacks and more for your pooch to carry.