Bill Corbett’s Day Trips from Calgary was first published in 1995. Now in its fourth edition, the full-colour guide spotlights must-see destinations and hidden gems that make for spectacular days out. Here, Corbett shares three of his favourites.
Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area
“This has been the first entry in the book since 1995. It’s this huge protected area just outside the city limits, donated by the Cross family. If you look to the east, you see the looming presence of Calgary, and if you turn the other way, all you see are mountains and foothills and grasslands and wildflowers. I try to go every June, when the first wildflowers are out and the bluebirds are flying around. There are more than 20 kilometres of trails, ranging from a short walk to a viewpoint, to the 8.6-km Paradise Trail. If you want to extend your day, nearby is the Leighton Art Centre, where, when it’s clear, you can see almost to the Crowsnest Pass.”
“In my mind, Lacombe is the finest small city/town in Alberta. It’s just north of Red Deer, and it’s got this Edwardian streetscape, with all these old, stately houses. It was one of the first participants in the Alberta Main Street Program, which restored historic downtown buildings. There’s a classic flatiron building, similar to the one in Kensington in Calgary. Lacombe also has a great food scene: Cilantro and Chive is a very sophisticated restaurant and Blindman Brewing is, I think, the [best] small-town brewery in Alberta. On the other side of Highway 2, there’s Gull Lake, which is a favourite place for people to swim, fish, boat and lay on the beach.”
“This is a protected area in southwest Alberta. Take Highway 22 south of Longview, cross the Oldman River, and [you wind up in] the largest undisturbed montane landscapes in the province, with grasslands, fabulous limber pines and Douglas firs, the Livingstone Range to the west, and then, to the north and south, these spiny ridges. It’s a great place for a walk. If you go through Claresholm to get there, the Claresholm & District Museum has a collection of historic buildings, as well as a garden dedicated to Louise McKinney, one of the Famous Five.”