Where to find golden larch trees in Calgary
Want to go on a larch hike but don't want to leave the city? Here's how.
Every year, thousands of Calgarians flock to the mountains in search of golden larches.
The unusual trees, which see their needles turn yellow in autumn, create an especially striking contrast against the backdrop of an otherwise green forest. If you're lucky, the scenery is accented further by a skiff of white snow.
The result is an otherworldly blend of summer, fall and winter that attracts not just Calgarians but tourists from around the world for an annual pilgrimage each autumn.
This year, however, you don't even need to leave the city.
Thanks to an exceptionally snowy start to October, we have a rare opportunity to experience the majesty of the larches without venturing too far from home.
Sure, it's not quite the same as in the Rockies. But if you're looking to make the most of this wintry weather, why not head out on an urban larch hike?
You just have to know where to look.
To help you along, here's an interactive map of every larch on public property in Calgary:
(Tree location data via the City of Calgary's open data catalogue.)
As you can see, some spots in the city are more heavily treed than others.
But there are plenty to explore.
If you'd prefer to know what you're getting into before you go, however, here are a few of our recommendations.
This park along the Bow River in northwest Calgary is home to several rows of mature larches.
You'll see them as soon as you pull into the main parking lot.
The trees stand tall along the southern end of the lot.
You'll find another dozen or so if you wander slightly to the west, and then a few more if you loop back to the main lot via the Bow River Pathway.
If you're visiting the Crowfoot Library or Robert Thirsk High School, look just to the north and you'll see a few stands of larches.
Mature trees overlook the baseball diamonds next to the school, and some younger larches are scattered throughout the park.
There is easy access to the area from the parking lot off Nose Hill Drive N.W.
This one is a bit more obscure, unless you live in the northeast community of Coventry Hills.
Area residents are likely familiar with the kilometre-long pathway that runs between Coventry Hills Way N.E. and Coventry Drive N.E.
The entire route is flanked on the west side by a long row of larches.
The golden trees are especially stunning in the recent snow, and the walking is easy along the paved path.
North Glenmore Park
There are numerous larches spread throughout this green space on the north shore of the Glenmore Reservoir.
Some of the most noticeable trees are located just southeast of the tennis courts.
There, a thick patch of mature larches stands alone in a mostly empty field. They're visible from the large parking lot just to the south.
You'll find smaller clusters, too, if you explore the pathways that meander through the natural area bound by North Glenmore Park Road.
Best part? No crowds
At each of these locations on Tuesday, there was hardly anyone to be found.
Chris Young was one of the few people out walking in Baker Park, taking in the larches' beauty.
The Bearspaw resident comes into Calgary to visit the park once or twice a week, and appreciates having the natural area more or less to himself, at least compared to the "maddening crowds" in Banff and Kananaskis.
"I went up to Kananaskis … over the Labour Day weekend and you couldn't even park. It was absolutely solid with tourists," Young said.
"It quite spoiled it."
He described Baker Park, by contrast, as a "bijou park" that remains relatively serene in its beauty.
"Trees like this," he said, "are quite a treat."
Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary's special focus on our city as it passes through the crucible of the downturn: the challenges we face, and the possible solutions as we explore what kind of Calgary we want to create. Have an idea? Email us at email@example.com
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