Knowledge sharing

Evidence of Plains Indigenous peoples’ historic archaeological sites, tipi rings, buffalo bones, Cochrane Ranch, market gardens, Brickburn brick factory, Calgary Pressed Brick and Sandstone quarry, Edworthy homestead, and cattle ranching.

Edworthy Natural Environment Park includes Lawrey Gardens and the Douglas Fir Trail. Lawrey Gardens, on a floodplain at the base of the Bow River Valley slopes, consists mostly of river gravel deposits from the last glaciation (when glaciers moved through Calgary).

However, some parts of the garden are on landfill from demolished buildings, including remnants of the Robin Hood Flour Mills, a notable feature of Calgary’s skyline until 1973.

The Douglas Fir Trail runs along a 200-foot-high, steep escarpment. Natural springs and drainage from nearby communities make this slope very unstable, causing trees to lean at odd angles. A major landslide has left a noticeable scar on the escarpment, giving rise to the nickname "the drunken forest" due to the tipsy appearance of the trees.

Edworthy Natural Environment Park spans 1.27 square kilometres and features over 5 kilometres of hiking and biking trails, including a section of the Bow River pathway. Originally part of the Cochrane Ranch, the land was purchased by Thomas Edworthy in 1883.

Together with his neighbor, John Lawrey, Edworthy established a successful garden market that provided fresh fruits and vegetables to railway crews and homesteaders.

After discovering sandstone on his property, he operated quarries that supplied stone for many buildings in Calgary.

The City acquired the land in 1962 to develop it into a park.

The area was initially one of the nomadic settlements of the Plains Indigenous Peoples who followed the migration of buffalo. The variety of berries and wildlife, such as rabbits and deer, made it sustainable for life. The cliffs and ravines were considered ideal sites for buffalo jumps, from which Indigenous Peoples used virtually every part of the buffalo for food, shelter, clothing, and tools. Evidence remains of the stones from tipi circles on the escarpment and several buffalo bones were uncovered after heavy rains in 1940.

The Park’s natural environment consists of a riparian woodland with aspen poplar, willow species, and balsam poplar. There is also some grassland and mixed shrubland, and an escarpment where white spruce dominates. With the white spruce is an isolated population of Douglas Fir, some more than 400 years old. It is considered the eastern most stand of Douglas Fir in Canada. Common native shrubs include saskatoon, red-osier dogwood, chokecherry, Canada buffaloberry, snowberry, wild rose, and gooseberry.


Edworthy Park is home to a variety of flora, including riparian woodlands with aspen, willow, and balsam poplar. The park also features grasslands, mixed shrublands, and an escarpment dominated by white spruce. Notably, Edworthy Park is the easternmost location in Canada where Douglas-fir trees can be found. Some of these trees are over 400 years old and can be identified by their deeply furrowed bark with reddish lines. Despite their name, Douglas-firs are not true firs but belong to their own genus.

In Lawrey Gardens, Willow Pond was created from an old swamp and provides a habitat for cattails, willows, and various birds and wildlife. There are many wildflowers, with species like Round-leaved Orchid and Small Wood Anemone thriving in moist areas, while Prairie Onion and Ascending Purple Milk Vetch prefer open spaces. On the forest floor, you can find Wild Bergamot and Spreading Dogbane. Due to historical disturbances, the park also hosts exotic invasive species such as Common Goat's-beard and Canada Thistle.

The Douglas Fir Trail passes through low moist areas and stands of balsam poplar and white spruce. While some spruce trees are also large, their bark is relatively smooth compared to the deeply furrowed bark of Douglas-firs.

Common wildlife found in the park includes little brown myotis bats, silver-haired bats, great horned owl, tree swallow, songbirds, common goldeneye, beaver, coyote, red squirrel, and deer.


Edworthy Natural Environment Park's coniferous forest is home to various birds and mammals, including Least Chipmunks and Red Squirrels. Cone-eating birds like Red and White-winged Crossbills, as well as tiny Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, thrive in this ecosystem. Yellow Warblers, recognizable by their yellow color and the reddish areas on males, breed and feed in the forested areas and along waterways.

"South Sora" pond is frequented by Sora rails and is a habitat for Boreal Chorus Frogs, Wood Frogs, and two species of garter snakes: Wandering and Red-sided (or Common).

Along the shoreline, you can walk among large Balsam Poplars and tall shrubs while listening to various birds, such as warblers, vireos, and catbirds. The Bow River's gravel bars host ducks, Canada Geese, and California and Ring-billed Gulls. The river's waters are teeming with fish, including large populations of Rainbow and Brown Trout, attracting anglers from around the world to fish the renowned "blue ribbon Bow."


Trail Adventures

Take a trail walk and then report back on what you saw and what matters the most to you about the Edworthy Natural Environment Park!

🌲Christmas Tree Trail

​Christmas Tree Trail at Edworthy Park.

About this trail

Christmas Tree Trail is a gravel trail that is less than 1 km in distance and takes approximately 22 minutes to complete in one direction. This is an easy trail, suitable for new hikers and families with young children. The walking routes can be adjusted to be longer or shorter, depending on the needs of the group.

Please use caution when crossing the train tracks and do not remain on them for any reason.

Accessibility

Washrooms: There is a washroom located off the trail between Picnic Site 6 and Picnic Site 7.

Parking: The Edworthy South Park and Bike parking lot is located off 5050 Spruce Dr SW.

💧Bow River Pathway

Bow River Pathway

About this trail

Bow River Pathway is a pathway that is less than 2 km in distance and takes approximately 25 minutes to complete in one direction. This is a medium difficulty trail, suitable for more active hikers and families with older children. The walking routes can be adjusted to be longer or shorter, depending on the needs of the group.

Please use caution when crossing the train tracks and do not remain on them for any reason.

Accessibility

Washrooms: There is a washroom located off the trail between Picnic Site 6 and Picnic Site 7.

Parking: The Edworthy South Park and Bike parking lot is located off 5050 Spruce Dr SW.

❓What Matters to YOU?

After taking a walk through Edworthy Natural Environment Park​, what matters the most to YOU about this park?

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12 July, 2024

Anonymous says:

The river front needs trash containers as bathers are leaving trash on riverfront which blows directly into the river

2 July, 2024

Anonymous says:

The variety of activities and especially inner city access to nature and natural trails is what really sets Edworthy apart!

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