Rotary/Mattamy Greenway

Zosia Zgolak and I completed a single-day bicycle tour of the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway in Calgary, Alberta on 6 June 2020.  The 140-kilometre long Greenway essentially circumnavigates the city of Calgary and incorporates mostly paved paths with some designated biking routes along city streets.  Although riding the entire loop in a single day is not technically challenging, it is nevertheless still demanding both physically and mentally.  In order to get a good start, we rode to my mother's house in the community of Cedarbrae the previous afternoon and spent the night there before getting up in the wee hours of the morning.  The weather forecast called for mainly cloudy skies but no rain although it had rained during the night.  Best of all, winds were supposed to be light--ideal for riding through many of the open spaces along the Greenway.  We chose to ride the loop in a clockwise direction in hopes of getting the more hilly sections in the northwest done earlier in the day when we had more energy.

The first part through Weaselhead Flats was straightforward since we had previously biked in this area extensively.  Ongoing construction of the ring road in the southwest made the 37 Street W-Glenmore Trail interchange a bit tricky to ride across, but fortunately, traffic was still light enough to allow us easy access along a short stretch of 37 Street W before turning onto the designated biking route on 46 Avenue S.  At Signal Hill Centre, we skipped a 1.5-kilometre long section where the Greenway makes an inexplicably pointless detour west along Richmond Road and then north to Battalion Park.  This detour entails dismounting the bicycle and climbing a series of stairs before descending east back toward Sarcee Trail.  I suspect that in the future, the Greenway may be re-routed further west to 101 Street W which might explain the curious extension along Richmond Road.

After descending to Edworthy Park and crossing Bow River, we skipped another section near Shouldice Park due to pathway repairs, but we picked up the Greenway again at 52 Street W and Bowness Road.  The next section along Bow River is very scenic, but the Greenway makes an annoying climb up to the top of the bluffs in the community of Silver Springs only to lose all that hard-won elevation as it descends back to the river at Bowmont Park.  Further west, we made another short construction detour under Stoney Trail before commencing the most strenuous stretch of the Greenway in the hilly northwest part of the city.  Much to the credit of the Greenway designers, the climbing never felt too strenuous at least in the direction we were traveling.  Having said that, there are occasions when the route seems more convoluted than necessary such as the long-winded diversion through the residences at Tuscany Meadows Crescent and Tuscany Meadows Heath.  A more direct ride along not-that-busy Tuscany Meadows Drive would have sufficed.  We also took a wrong turn up Tuscany Valley View when we should have headed east along Tuscany Boulevard, but we easily regained the Greenway at the Tuscany Ctrain/bus station and only missed out on a short section running through Twelve Mile Coulee park.

Cruising past the nondescript high point of the day (1271 metres) near a car mall in the community of Royal Vista, we faced our most significant challenge in navigating the unfinished section of the Greenway between 14 Street W and Centre Street in the community of Carrington.  At 14 Street W just south of 140 Avenue N, the Greenway pavement ends at a big mud pit.  There was still a rudimentary dirt track we could follow, but after the previous night's rains, some parts of this track were too muddy to ride.  The worst section was maybe about 125 metres long, and we dismounted to walk our bikes here after I stupidly tried to pedal through a mud hole.  Fortunately, we found pavement again after this muddy section, and all went well until we reached Centre Street.  Here, the pavement ends again in a muddy ditch beside the road.  We walked our bikes a short distance to get onto the pavement of Centre Street, but it is not entirely obvious where the Greenway goes from here.  With a bit of searching around, we eventually found the Greenway atop a hill on the northeast side of the Centre Street-Stoney Trail interchange.  From there, we enjoyed a short stretch of easy riding until the pavement ends again at 15 Street E which is a gravel road at this point.  The Greenway follows 15 Street E southward under Stoney Trail and across train tracks and a stream before regaining pavement near 128 Avenue N.  Until this section of the Greenway is completed, it may be better to avoid all the troubles here by simply heading further north and riding along 144 Avenue N between 14 Street W and 15 Street E.

Route-finding was generally not a problem for the rest of the trip after we cleared the unfinished section of the Greenway.  The ride through the northeast part of Calgary was straightforward, but by the time we stopped for lunch at a wetlands area in the community of Monterey Park, we were both starting to feel some aches and pains--for me, most notably in my neck and shoulders.  Further south on 52 Street E, we skipped another section where the Greenway heads east along a canal to 84 Street E.  Both Zosia and I had already ridden this part of the Greenway previously and felt that it did not merit a repeat visit.  Instead, we continued south on 52 Street E before heading east along 114 Avenue S to rejoin the Greenway at the 114 Avenue S-Stoney Trail interchange.  Doing so shaved off about 3.5 kilometres of easy but uninspiring cycling from our total trip distance, but since we had already skipped a couple of short sections of the Greenway earlier in the day, we had already given up on maintaining purism of the route.

After winding around the southeast corner of the city, we passed the low point of the day (996 metres) along the Bow River near McKenzie Meadows Golf Course.  We then crossed a foot bridge over Bow River and rode west through familiar territory in Fish Creek Provincial Park.  The park was busy as usual for a Saturday afternoon, and many parts of the Greenway were quite congested.  We stopped for another lengthy break at a day-use shelter near MacLeod Trail before tackling the final uncomplicated southwest leg of the loop.  Upon returning to my mother's house, we were rewarded with a second delicious home-cooked meal in as many days.  Zosia and I washed the dishes after dinner, and we still had enough energy left to ride home later in the evening.

A special thank you goes out to my mother, Grace Bou, for her generous hospitality and wonderful culinary skills.  She is truly the salt of the earth.
Wake me up... Zosia is ready to ride at 5:15 AM.
Eerily quiet here... Zosia crosses the bridge over Elbow River near Weaselhead Flats.
Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long! Zosia waits for a train to roll across the Greenway at Edworthy Park.
The sliding door makes it feel like you just took a crap inside the Starship Enterprise! This is a state-of-the-art public toilet at the Tuscany CTrain/bus station.  Everything is sensor-automated inside including the toilet paper.  There is even some accompanying light jazz music!
That was dumb of me! Sonny shows his displeasure after unsuccessfully trying to ride through a mud hole along an unfinished section of the Greenway near the community of Carrington.
The wet grass at least helped to clean off some of the mud from my bike and shoes! Zosia walks along a fence line in search of the continuation of the Greenway near the Centre Street-Stoney Trail interchange.
Maybe a rope would help... Sonny tries to stretch his sore neck on a bench in the community of Monterey Park.
I wonder what the quality of the water is like being so close to the landfill... This long boardwalk spans a vast wetland just east of Shepard landfill.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzz... Sonny enjoys an afternoon siesta at one of the shelters near Glennfield Meadows in Fish Creek Provincial Park.
Brave deer with tons of people in the area! Zosia stops to admire a deer (far right) foraging near Shannon Terrace at the west end of Fish Creek Provincial Park.
And we still have to ride home after this! Zosia and Sonny raise their bikes in triumph after completing their ride of the Rotary/Mattamy Greenway.
An epic adventure inside Calgary! Total Distance:  140.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  11 hours 25 minutes
Total Elevation Gain:  1052 metres

GPX Data