By Shari Fenn, Content Contributor
It’s easy to get bogged down with the same routine.
Confining yourself to a recurring pattern in a never-ending rut.
Even taking the same route to work and doing the same hobbies can leave you bored and feeling stagnant.
Well now is the time to break out and try something new.
When it comes to the best lookout places for breathtaking scenery, the Calgary Region is paradise – a photographer’s playground.
We have streetscapes, the rolling foothills, majestic Rocky Mountains, and charming little towns.
So grab your camera and check out some of these absolutely amazing lookouts and walks.
Experience the Calgary Region in all its glory.
1. The Men of Vision in Cochrane
For many, when you think of Cochrane, you think of the bronze horseman on the hill.
But have you ever been up to see it?
It offers a sweeping view of Cochrane with rolling foothills in the foreground and the Rocky Mountains as a spectacular backdrop.
It’s one of the most scenic lookouts in the Calgary Region.
It’s a fabulous place for photography with the statue, the foothills that go on forever, and a clear panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains.
A little history on the statue
Photo credit: Laura Leyshon
The statue was created by Malcolm James MacKenzie, or “Mac” as he was known in the ranching community.
MacKenzie lived in Cochrane and Banff throughout his life, and was a respected artist, cowboy, rancher, and guide.
The statue is located on the Cochrane Ranche Historic site – named a protected historic plot of land in 1977 by Alberta Culture.
The Men of Vision statue was completed and placed in its final resting place atop the Ranche hill overlooking the community in 1979.
The statue’s journey from conception to completion took roughly three years, It included a transatlantic journey to one of the most prolific bronze foundries in all of England.
MacKenzie’s original creation, a three-foot-tall wax scale model was cast in plaster and flown across the Atlantic.
Upon completion, it was flown back to Cochrane and assembled where it stands today.
The site is located at the junction of Highways 1A and 22.
It takes 10 minutes or so to hike up to site.
You’ll find trails, picnic tables and fire pits at the park.
2. Turner Valley and Black Diamond’s Friendship Trail
One of the most beautiful walks in the Calgary Region is the Friendship Trail.
It has stunning views of the Calgary Foothills.
It takes about 90 minutes to do a return trip.
Turner Valley and Black Diamond are picturesque communities.
Both nestled in the iconic Foothills against the backdrop of Kananaskis Country and the Rocky Mountains.
Along with taking the trail, you can explore both towns, making for an excellent day trip.
The paved Friendship Trail starts at Millennium Park in Turner Valley, at the four-way stop, which is easy to spot with the municipal sign and gazebo.
The trail is approx. 6 km return and it’s easy for the elderly, parents with strollers, and younger family members.
Amazing views of the Sheep River and jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain Foothills will make time fly by.
A rock cut along the way indicates the location of Black Diamond’s famous coal mine, operating early in the 20th century.
If Fido is along for the walk, a great off-leash dog park awaits you near the trail.
The Black Diamond Bakery is a Danish bakery with the reputation of being one of the best in the Calgary Region.
If you love baking, you must make it a point to stop in.
You’ll be amazed at the extensive choices and the baking is like no other. It’s a popular local gathering place for the locals.
A few more steps will take you to a fully restored Main Street with boutique shopping, one-of-a-kind finds, and don’t miss the Blue Rock Gallery.
Seeing is believing!
3. Scotsman’s Hill
Photo credit: Geoff Sowrey
Scotsman’s Hill in the southeast community of Ramsay is a favourite of photographers with its unique perspective of Calgary.
Your view from the Hill overlooks the Saddledome arena.
It offers a fantastic vantage point of the city’s specular downtown of office towers and high-rise condominiums in the background.
It’s one the most photographed views of Calgary.
Try visiting the Hill in the day as well as the night.
There’s something pretty magical about seeing Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome, the Calgary Tower, downtown buildings and skyscrapers lit up at night.
It’s also an amazing experience to see the vantage point with the changing seasons and skies.
Scotsman’s Hill has several different spots to stop along both 6th Street and Salisbury Street S.E.
It also has easy vehicle access.
It’s a favourite local spot for shooting photos of Calgary.
4. High River – Happy trails and bird sanctuary
Photo credit: Birds Calgary
If you like getting out for leisurely scenic walks, Happy Trails in the Town of High River, is for you!
The Happy Trails pathway system is made up of over 25 km of walking and cycling paths.
They are paved, easy going and extremely well-maintained to be baby stroller and wheelchair friendly.
Along the pathway, you’ll discover why High River is beautiful and rich with nature.
You’ll be traversed under a canopy of beautiful cottonwood trees while listening to the calming, steady flow of the Highwood River.
Some of the activities often enjoyed along the Happy Trails include walking, biking, jogging, roller blading, picnicking and High River’s famous birdwatching.
The best access points are from Sunshine and Emerson Lakes or George Lane Memorial Park.
Opportunities for birding
There are three great opportunities for birding in the High River area.
First, there is a small section of land situated on the east edge of the High River cemetery located off of 5 St SE across from Senator Riley School.
The second is at Emerson Lake located at 9 Street and 9 Avenue S.E. and includes 103 different species of birds.
The third is the Frank Lake conservation area located 6 km east of High River.
To date, 190 plant species, 194 bird species and over 16 mammal species have been recorded at Frank Lake, including many that are regionally or provincially rare in status.
For more information, please visit http://www.ducks.ca/places/alberta/frank-lake/
5. Hillcrest Avenue, Mount Royal in Calgary
One of Calgary’s most affluent and established inner-city communities provides unbelievable views of the city skyline looking directly north toward downtown.
You can find tiny park located at the junction of Hillcrest Avenue and Earl Grey Crescent S.W.
You’ll see vistas of the Calgary downtown past the urban forest of established neighbourhoods like Cliff Bungalow.
One of the best parts of this vantage point is the downtown’s twin towers, prominent from this location including Suncor Energy.
6. Chestermere – lakeside walkways and beaches
The City of Chestermere, known as Alberta’s Oasis, has rapidly evolved from a lakeside summer village into a dynamic, recreational oasis for close to 20,000 residents.
While in Chestermere, take some time to enjoy the 30 kilometers of walking and biking paths throughout the city.
These pathways will take you through spectacular scenery along the 4.8 km long Lake, streams, small waterfalls and ponds.
You can bring your dog along and enjoy the off-leash area which is located along the northwest side of the Lake.
View the pathway map on the City’s website.
7. Nose Hill Park in Calgary
A beautiful angle of the city skyline looking from the north to the south, can be found from the heights of Nose Hill Park in Calgary.
A great spot to park is the lot just off John Laurie Blvd and then take a 20-minute walk up the path to the hill to wander the grassy fields on the top of this flat park.
It’s a great place to go geocaching, walk, ride a bike or run with your dog.
At 1093 hectares, Nose Hill Park is Canada’s largest urban natural environment park with a stunning prairie landscape.
The park has large designated off-leash areas for dogs.
The Friends of Nose Hill Society has some excellent information on the Hill.
What are your favourite lookouts and walks?
There’s no way this list can capture all the amazing walks and lookouts in the Region. This list is only a start.
We’ve heard there are some amazing views on the west side of Airdrie looking east towards the city.
We’ve also been told that there are some spectacular views tucked away in some of the new communities being built on the west side of Okotoks.
If you can help us find some of these hidden gems Calgary Region, let us know!
Shari Fenn is a Canadian storyteller, inbound content writer and owner of Cross Communications Inc.