Shouldice Park

  • Parking: Parking Lot on Site
  • Washrooms: They're there, but I couldn't find them!
  • Paved and Dirt Paths
Caught between bridges  
The open lawns and old poplars in the north end of the park.
Mostly known as a athletic hub, Shouldice Park houses soccer fields, baseball diamonds, batting cages, and tennis courts, as well as the Shouldice Aquatic Center.  But at the bend of the river at the north end of the park, there is a wide open lawn between beautiful mature poplars.  It's a busy place on weekends, packed with family BBQ's and folks walking or cycling along the pathway system that cuts through the park, but early on this weekday morning, it was just me and the magpies.  It's easy to see why it's so popular with families - lots of space to run and play, picnic tables, fire pits and lots of river access, although the current is quite strong here.  It's one of the few places on the Bow River that the water forms white caps as it tumbles over shallow rapids.  
The work of a beaver.

Unfortunately, this beautiful space is located between three busy bridges, so there's a lot of traffic noise.  But all that changed when the formal park came to an end at Memorial Bridge.  At that point, I had to turn either left to follow the paved Bow Valley Pathway, or branch right onto a dirt trail.  I went right of course - dirt is always more fun than asphalt!  It was a great choice. After just a few minutes of walking, the traffic noise was replaced by bird song and the sound of the river.  And then another sound - I came across a lady sitting beside the path, playing her flute for her two lap dogs.  What a charming surprise!

A gentle pebble beach belies the rapid current of the Bow River.

In this short walk, I had the chance to experience both a structured urban park and the chaotic abundance of the native river bank.  While I very much appreciate the spaces set aside and groomed by the city, I realised that I much prefer the wildness of the natural landscape.  Just as long as there is a well marked path and a cup of coffee close by - everything in moderation of course.  I am an "urban walker" after all!

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