Skip the mountains and save on gas with these unique Calgary trails

You don't have to travel far for amazing Calgary trails. The Weather Network's Connor O'Donovan shares some of the best hiking spots in and around the city.

So, your feet are itching to hit the trails, but your eyes are bulging at the cost of getting to your favourite mountain haunts?

Here are three Calgary-area trails you can hike without breaking the bank just to fill your tank:

1. Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area

Connor O'Donovan/TWN: Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area 1

Less than two kilometres from Calgary's southwest city limits lie 4800 square kilometres of flourishing grassland and lively forest. 

Before it became a conservation area, the land (which is in the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Nations) hosted a ranch operated by Sandy Cross, who came from a multi-generational ranching family. 

In 1987, he and his wife Ann decided to donate 2000 acres of their land to the province of Alberta for the purpose of conservation. Another 2800 acres were donated in 1996.  

As a result, hundreds of species of plants and wildlife have a protected place to live and thrive.  

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Go birdwatching, find colourful wildflowers and spy cougars, elk, bears, and more on more than 20 kilometres of trails.

Connor O'Donovan: Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Calgary, Alberta, trees, hiking, trail, hike

You’ll find ponds teeming with activity, thickly forested valleys, and soaring hills affording tranquil mountain and city views, all under a half-hour’s drive from downtown Calgary. 

In fact, some parts of the area rise so high they lose cell phone service, giving you yet another reason to enjoy the scenery. 

And, if you keep your eyes peeled, you may just spot a filming location from one of The Last of Us’ most pivotal scenes.

DON'T MISS: The Weather Network's comprehensive Camping Guide!

2. Douglas Fir Trail

Connor O'Donovan/TWN: Douglas Fir Trail, Alberta, Calgary, hiking trail

Next, nature you can access via CTrain!

After exiting Sirocco station, a walk down Calgary’s Greenway will bring you to Edworthy Park.

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There, snaking high and low above the banks of the bow, sits the Douglas Fir Trail.

Connor O'Donovan/TWN: Douglas Fir Trail 2. Alberta, Calgary, hike, hiking, trail

Breathe in the scent of 500-year-old Fir trees as you climb to some of the best views in Calgary.

Baltimore Orioles and Yellow Warblers can sometimes be found perched high in their branches, and when the time is right, colourful violets bloom alongside trickling streams cascading down the cliffs.

After hiking, cool off the feet with a quick dip in the bow or take the bridge across the river to Angel’s Cafe for a sweet treat.

Leave the city behind and immerse yourself in one of the most easterly fir tree forests in Canada, all for the cost of a CTrain ticket!

SEE ALSO: Basic rules of hiking etiquette can help you stay safe

3. Paskapoo Slopes

Connor O'Donovan/TWN: Paskapoo Slopes. Hiking trail just outside of Calgary, Alberta

Sitting just outside Calgary Olympic Park are the Paskapoo Slopes, named after the Cree term for "he is blind".

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In a dense forest of Aspen, explore an extensive network of trails threading along the hillside.

Trade in the roar of the city for the bubble of cascading creeks, the calls of migratory birds, and the occasional bicycle bell.

Connor O'Donovan/TWN: Paskapoo Slopes. “The Big Rock”

A number of picturesque treasures await the eager explorer in this environmental reserve on Calgary’s western limits, and if you like to see big rocks while you hike, you can find that there too.

What’s been known for decades to local residents as "The Big Rock" is what is known scientifically as a glacial erratic, believed to have been transported by glacial ice from a rockslide in Jasper National Park and left on the Paskapoo Slopes over 12000 years ago!

Follow Connor O'Donovan on Twitter @ConnODonWeather

All images within this article are © of Connor O'Donovan/The Weather Network