mamajbomb's picture

Nose Hill Nonsense

So I see that there have been previous comments about the goings on up at Nose Hill, but no comments for over a year, so thought I would start a new thread. There has to be someone out there who has recently witnessed the MASSIVE trail closures that are currently going on in Nose Hill. Seems they have finally found the funding (thank you Michelle Rempel for your oh, so generous pre-election vote buying, I mean, donation of $225K for "trail upgrades in Nose Hill to Connect to the TCT" - which, as it seems does not actually run through Nose Hill). For those that don't know, the plan is to eliminate 80% of the trails in Nose Hill and funnel all users on the previously mentioned ball-bearing gravel paths- aka skree slopes, a few minor ground paths or the popular asphalt (is that spelt with one or two s's?). The plan, that is currently 10 years old, is now being implemented with gusto - trails are being dug up, covered up, signed and in some cases piled high with dead fall. Trail closed now means trail closed. It's overkill. It's unnecessary. And it needs to be stopped. So the point of this comment is: is there anyone else out there enraged by the loss of the Nose Hill Riding Sanctuary and is there anything at all we can do about it? I'm pretty riled up about it so happy to help get something going...


RichieRich's picture

Nosehill photos?

photos of their initial "gusto"? 

I haven't been up there since spring but wasn't impressed with the last round of "upgrades" - neither the methodology, long construction time, or results.  Might have to go for a ride up there Sunday aft if Nosehill isn't blown away from this wind or under a blanket of slop.

mamajbomb's picture

I'm looking at this and

I'm looking at this and realizing I am technically challenged and can't figure out how to insert a photo!  So let me describe it for you:  they have dug up the start of a trail - in some cases have actually done this to the whole section of trail (especially the ones along the side of the platuea below the paved path on the John Laurie face), covered it with some kind of burlap matting that is held down with wooden spikes at about 2 inch square intervals.  Then a sign is posted that says "Trail Closure:  this trail is permanantly closed to keep our environment healthy."  Poaching the trail is difficult, although not impossible where the massive piles of dead fall have not been placed, and because of the length of the closure a ride-around is impossible.  As of yesterday, the entire face off the Brisbois parking lot has been closed down to 2 trails going up and one traversing to the lower Shaganappi entrance, as well as the ridge riding along the top of that face (there used to be a fun traverse from the upper Shaganappi parking lot along the top of the escarpment to the gravel pit area.  Most of it is closed now.


bclark's picture


If you set the text format to "WYSIWYG user" you should be able to just paste them in.  That's what I've had success with.

2wheeler's picture

Nose Hill Closures

I rode at Nose Hill last weekend and was surprised by all the closures.  What a waste!  They're closing trails that were in great shape and had no chance of erosion, trails that seperated bikers from hikers, and "upgraded" trails that had absolutley no reason to be upgraded.  A huge waste of money and destruction of good cycling singeltrack.  Very sad indeed.

RichieRich's picture

Multi-mode enjoyment

seems to me that the concept of various user groups having preferential self-selected user areas is no more.  By this I mean that often bird watchers tended to use certain areas moreso that trail runners, or dog walkers more prevelant on some trails/areas than cyclists.  In a sense there had been a natural evolution that substantially helped each user group enjoy the hill whilst minimizing on-hill conflicts.  Having used Nosehill for nearly 20 years (albeit rarely more than 10-15x yearly), my impression has been that most of the trails were reasonably self-sustaining and selective of users.  Certainly trail-braiding had become more of an issue starting ~10 years ago when many will recall the last attempt to close/control trails started (recall the dead-end trails that had randomly located snow fences everywhere; and the random sections of roto-tilling?)  

From what I am reading the new "design" is attempting to funnel all users onto a few defined trails (if you can call pavement that) that won't be able to please anyone.  The result will be, quite logically, a gradual evolution of new trails created by ALL users seeking solace from the masses. 

bclark's picture

Nose Hill Documents and Background

There are a number of documents related to Nose Hill Park and what you are seeing in terms of changes to the trails.  They can fe found at  

I too lament the fact that many of the popular natural-base single track trails are being closed.  These are trails my family and I enjoyed using on a year-round basis.  Unfortunately these trails are being lost not only to cyclists, but to trail runners, hikers (walkers) and dog walkers.

I had expressed my concern about the loss of these trails to my Ward Councilor and Parks.  My comments about the work I was seeing were that a limited number of the demonstrably popular single track trails could be preserved and that there is sufficient know-how in terms of trail building to make them sustainable in a natural-ish state (i.e. without widening and resorting to gravel).  I also pointed out that the trails they have preserved in the natural state show a poor understanding of how to build a sustainable trail.  I gave a couple examples, first being the trail descending/ascending the slope to just north and east of the Brisbois parking lot is straight on the fall line.  Not only is the grade excessively challenging, but building on the fall line encourages skidding and exacerbates trail erosion.  A second example gave is the gravel trail ascending the west side of the hill along Shaganappi Trail.  There are a number of places near the top where water erodes the trail as it drains across and causes gravel to accumulate in other ares.  Again, a well built trail (and there are many examples in Bragg Creek and in Canmore) would mitigate this.  Of course one can top this off by the fact that the trail markers consist of two-foot high rusted iron sculptures mounted on concrete bases that are very nice to look at, but become very hazardous when hidden next to the trail in tall similar-colored grass.

There was some engagement around the Nose Hill Park plan in the early 2000's and a lot of concern voiced about loss of challenging trails.  Funny thing is, there was also a lot of concern about the potential for the planned paved trails along the top to turn into "high speed bicycle commuter paths" (because we all know Nose Hill Park is a heavily used commuter corridor...not!).  Based on what we are seeing I personally don't think the City acquiesed on the need for a reasonable natural-base trail system and I wonder that those concerned didn't have the resources to properly challenge the plan.  I know that, other than going to the public engagement, I did not have a good grasp at the time of how these types of plans get ammended and approved.

What does this mean going forward?  The Nose Hill Park Plan covers the whole Hill.  It's been a while since I've read it in detail, but there could be more changes coming across the Hill.  Some will be good, but others could result in more lost trail opportunities.  As the Plan was approved by Council, I'm not sure much can be done to stop any changes, short of rescinding the Plan.  I'd suggest checking out Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance ( to see if they are doing anything on this front.

Definitely though, continue the discussion here, I know there are a lot of Bike Calgary forum users who ride recreationally on the area's trails, including Nose Hill.

mamajbomb's picture

Yep, have skimmed through

Yep, have skimmed through most of the Parks and Pathway Plan, and the current trails closures are as documented on the plan.  Each "face" will have one or two trails leading to the top, no traverse trails and nothing in ravines/treed areas.  The issues that I have are that it seems rather drastic to cut trails by 80% and as mentioned above, lose the  self-selected user group trail system, only to funnel everyone onto the same paths.  This will lead to increased wear and trail on existing trails, and likely increase negative interactions between user groups.  As it stands, I think there has been very little negative interactions between groups, largely due to the fact that the multiple options for trails means everyone can have their own little space at any given time.

I also feel that the existing trails were well established, in great shape, with very little signs of erosion - because the ground is clay and hard as rock - it's not going to erode fast.  The upgrades they are making though - in terms of gravel paths, will erode quckly and are dangerous.  The one near the 64 street tunnel has pedestrian slide marks going down it all the time.  I'm not sure who was in charge of picking which trails to gravel, but as you mentioned bclark, these are not sustainable.

I have spoken with CMBA, but it sounds like it is not their battle to fight.  The thought is that it will be hard to change people's behaviour and either the trails will survive or new ones will form.  I argue that if we can have a unified voice to point out that sustainable multi-use trails can be built that protect both the natural beauty of Nose Hill and the solitude (by having increased access), perhaps something can be done.  We are talking about a plan that is 10 years old and is likely out of date with Calgary's current population desires (spoke with someone at Bow who said they have sold 75,000 mountain bikes in the last 10 years - people are out there riding).  

I will be writing to Druh Farrell about this and I would encourage everyone to spread the word to other like minded people to start calling 3-1-1 to voice concerns about the closures of the singletrack trails - sighting safety issues as user groups begin to squeeze into a limited number of trails, gravel paths that have poor traction and increased erosion, etc, etc.  It may require petitioning to get the plan to be re-visited, but I think it would be worth it to save the trails...not just for cyclists, but for all users ( in fact, if we can encourage the walkers and hikers to start calling too, that would help the cause so it doesn't just look like us cyclists moaning again).

RichieRich's picture

Other users

During the last round of trail changes I happened to be up on Nosehill and had several conversations with other hill users (none of them cyclists).  They ALL expressed dismay, disapointment, and shock at what was happening.  At least a couple expressed how they tried to voice their opinions during the original old plan and were shut down.  Other users stated that the plan being executed no longer reflected the general surrounding population or active user base.  Nothing has changed.

mamajbomb's picture

Be heard

Trail Closures

Although I have heard that 3-1-1 actually works now and concerns get to the right person and are getting some attention.  So maybe if we can flood the parks lines with concerns we might get heard.  I will contact Druh Farrell and see what can be done about organizing something so there may be an opportunity to get a unified voice on this topic.  An uphill battle I realize, but I'm not prepared to lose my backyard salvation. 

RichieRich's picture

Pinkbike forum

I've posted a small rant on the Pinkbike "Trail Conditions for Calgarians" forum and linked it to this Hall of Shame forum with the intention of informing a larger audience and hopefully gaining more support and momentum. Many of that Pinkbike forum participants (and lurkers, myself included) have been users of Calgary-based trails (be they Nosehill, Bowmont, East-lands, Fish Creek, etc...) where similar issues have or may occur in the near future.

As per typical Bike Calgary format please continue to keep comments factual and respectful otherwise respect, impact, and potential for mitigation is quickly lost.

Pinkbike forum link:

Thanks all ya'll.



Fuzz's picture



I emailed Druh and Nenshi last year and this was hte response:

Thank you for contacting Mayor Nenshi with your comments about Nose Hill Park. The mayor has asked me to respond on his behalf.


Nose Hill Park and Pathway is currently undergoing improvements that will ultimately lessen the impact of park visitors on wildlife and native vegetation. While we understand the sentiment that the improvements are ruining the park, the intent is to obtain a better balance between recreational use and environmental protection.


I've been on vacation, but plan to go up there this weekend.  I'll prepare my "rage meter".

EJ's picture

Hi guys, does anybody have

Hi guys, does anybody have any updates on this? Basically wondering whether or not it is too late to do something to stop the changes to the park. Cheers

EJ's picture

2016 updates

Hi guys, does anybody have any updates on this? Basically wondering whether or not it is too late to do something to stop the changes to the park. Cheers

mamajbomb's picture

2017...the gravel continues

Sigh.  It looked like the Nosehill buzz-killers had lost their battle last year when none of the trail closures seemed to stick.  Guess their new tactic is to widen and gravel all access trails.  They have "wisely" chosen to gravel one of the steepest pitches from the Calgary Winter Club parking lot to the top.  Can't wait for the first thunderstorm to drag all that gravel into a pit at the bottom.  Anyone want to take one for the team and skid down it and set up a lawsuit for the dangerous path?

Start sending those comments in to the city.  Talk about near death experiences sliding down the ball-bearing trails or how you got caught in a massive rut due to erosion...

Fuzz's picture

The stupid part is you used

The stupid part is you used to be able to ride up with(with some grunt).  Now they put stairs in, but put no consideration for cyclists, at all.  So you have to either walk the stairs, or take adifferent trail.  They should build a gradual trail that follows the contours westward and up, does one switchback and meets where the top of the stairs are now.  Then they could have left the steep pitch to go back to nature that would have stopped errosion.  It would have been cheaper and more pelasant for all users.  But I get the feeling the person running this project doesn't give a crap about cyclists or common sense solutions.  They clearly aren't trail builders.

bclark's picture


From what I've seen of the implementation of the Nose Hill Park plan, my opinion is that the City, or whomever was hired to create the plan, has limited knowledge on sustainable trail building and came up with a plan that does not balance user needs with environmental protection. As evidence I cite trail routing that follows fall lines, resulting in grades that are too steep to be enjoyable and that promote erosion, poor choice of surface materials, I.e. removing long-present compacted dirt and replacing it with erosion-prone gravel, resulting in dangerous/difficult trail conditions, placement of dangerous and difficult to see trail markers too close to trails and closure of demonstrably popular trails, resulting in people just ignoring the closure. In my opinion the Nose Hill Park plan should be suspended for a new round of engagement and planning at minimum, or rescinded entirely. This could possibly be done through Council, but would take a lot of work. The first option may be better as I will admit that in some areas the gravel is okay.

Fuzz's picture

One area that really gets me

One area that really gets me was when they tried to reclaim the trail on the SW-S side that kind of parallels the paved path.  That is a perfect bike trail.  No erosion but it was primarily good because it separated the cyclists form the elderly walkers, parents with strollers and dog walkers.  They tried to force closure on it which would have put cyclists in conflict with other users.  I'm really happy to see their plan fail catastrophically on that one when riders refused to honour the closure and tore up the burlap and rode the trial.  The silly part is that the trail s now wider than before because a parallel track was created when they attempted to destroy the original one.  So their pointless costly meddling just made the trail worse.

It is disappointing to see my tax dollars go towards efforts to destroy a decent outdoor physical opportunity so close to home.

bclark's picture


They spent a bunch of money, rototilled it and then the hikers and dog walkers packed it back down into a wider trail. To effect the closure now, they'd have to go back up and do it again and then spend a bunch of additional resources on enforcement. It would be better to reopen the trails portion of the Plan for engagement and come up with a trail network that meets the needs of the many citizens who don't want to run, ride or dog walk on asphalt or gravel. While at it, they could also consult with trail building organizations that actually know how to build and maintain trails (lots of examples in Bragg Creek, Canmore, etc.). If they did that and saved the wide gravel trails for a few limited areas on top, they could use the money they saved to open up some additional all-season washrooms. 

mamajbomb's picture

actually, not only have they

actually, not only have they put those stairs in, they graveled the slope to the west of that - which was a sweeping S curve that was an absolute blast to come down!  There is no way I would descend it once it is graveled.


mikewarren's picture

Parks can't build trails

Plain and simple, nobody at Parks seems to know how to *maintain* (let alone build) and of the fantastic singletrack that we've enjoyed over the years. Most of the trails they've (tried to) close on Nose Hill are 40+ year old singletrack that at *worst* needed some TLC here and there. I shudder to think what they're thinking about doing to Sideshow with the "passing lanes" etc improvements they mention.

Sad to say, but the very best thing would be to un-fund all this shit and let volunteers (continue to) maintain them. Ideally, they could give some money to said volunteers to buy some supplies etc. but this isn't a thing Parks seems to do.

"Luckily" they have zero money (and it's "too dangerous") to fix Douglas Fir trail, so all of that is going to be done by volunteers with some minimal input of equipment from Parks (ongoing currently).

The level of incompetence demonstrated with the Nose Hill projects is truly astounding -- they've managed to completely fucking destroy all the good trails that have been built up over the last several decades in only a few years.

Fuzz's picture

Another major concern

Those rusty metal trail markers that are 2 feet tall hiding below the long grass.  What numpty thought that was a good idea?  If I ever smoke one of those I'm suing the crap outa the city.  What a horrible idea.