This fantastic hike through the rolling hills of Southern Alberta could not be more conveniently located for city dwellers in Calgary or residents of the MD of Foothills.
The 4,800 acre property is just southwest of the city off Highway 22x. It is the creation of Ann and Sandy Cross (one of the Stampede's Big 4), who began buying up land in 1945. In 1987 the couple donated the first 2,000 acres to the Province of Alberta as a preserve. The remaining 2,800 acres was donated in 1996, bringing the total area to 12 square kilometres.
The area is accessed by a parking lot and once on the trails visitors get an amazing view of both the city skyline to the orth and the rolling ranchland to the south and the mountains to the west.
About 20 kilometres of trails criss-cross the northern part of the property, passing through stands of aspen and vast seas of tall grass, travel writer Lauren Krugel explained in a Canadian Press story from 2017. Krugel wrote: When you stop walking, the only sound you hear is the wind. It's possible to spend hours in the area without encountering another human.
The area is open year around and is especially popular with school groups.
Among its newest residents are two beavers, released in May of 2018 by the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC).
Some important information if you are planning to visit:
The park is closed daily between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. and visitors must sign up a kiosk at the parking lot. There is no entrance fee but donations are appreciated.
Horses, pets and bicycles or any other vehicles are not allowed.
The conservation area's website is www.crossconservation.org.