If you want a dog walk with a view, Nose Hill is the place for you. Great views of downtown Calgary's skyline on one side and mountain views on the other. Nose Hill Off Leash Park is located in NW Calgary, and is connected to 12 communities!
My husband's family grew up in North West Calgary, so I'm familiar with Nose Hill Park. I can tell you, it's a whole lot of rolling hills. It's very big. Many kilometres of bigness. When I looked it up, it says that it's 11 kilometres.That's a lot of walks.
I remember walking on Nose Hill once when my son was young. It was summer, we were visiting his grandparents, and decided to go for a walk when we were done visiting. I remember it was hot. Dry and hot. And we didn't have water bottles. And we walked straight up a windy hill, and didn't get too far before the complaining started. And I don't know if you've ever walked when it's really hot and a child starts complaining, but it's not very fun. So we turned around and walked back down.
I've wanted to go back and walk the hill for years, and I've never visited the off leash dog park at Nose Hill, so with little persuasion, Betty (my dog) agreed to join me to check it out. I assured Betty I knew how to get to the vicinity, but I didn't know where the off leash park was, but put it into my maps. Click here for directions.
Betty and I headed out later on a Sunday afternoon in January. A warm day. Warm for Calgary in January, anyhow. Parking spots were crowded with cars and people. Covid style exercise and outdoor fresh air goodness for the win! There's a lot of space to social distance on Nose Hill Park. Remember?
11 kilometres worth.
Anyhow, as she does, the Google Maps lady took me to the parking lot designated for the Off Leash Dog Park. We found a spot to park along the side of a hill. There were people and cars everywhere, but no signs for an Off Leash area.
I saw lots of couples and families walking around, but not everyone had a dog. Hmm. We started towards a path. "Do you know where the off leash part is?" I asked a young couple with a dog. They pointed up the hill. "Just keep going, it's kind of on the other side. You'll know when you get there because there's more dog shit around."
Hmmm. I don't think those are official directions we'd write into a Calgary visitors guide, but sure. I get it. Some people don't pick up after their dogs. Bad dog people. I slipped on my boot cleats and Bets and I started walking. Straight up an icy hill. Holy doodle, I says to myself as I puffed along, you is one out of shape dog lady. But it was a good day for an uphill walk and there's only one way to get in shape. (quitting my chocolate habit is also on my list but that's a work in progress)
Anyhow, I saw people walking all around me, but no dogs. Hmmm. I asked a man who had no dog companion (how sad for him) if he knew where the off leash area was, he shrugged. No idea. I found another young man with a child and a dog, heading down the hill. I asked him about the off leash area. Just keep going way to the other side, he told me absently, his attention on his kiddo.
At the the top of the hill, I spotted a map and some benches were scattered around. A beautiful view of downtown Calgary lay in front of me. There was also a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog romping around on a leash, not attached to her person. I asked the person not holding the leash. "Do you know where the off leash part is?"
"I'm not sure," she told me. "I just let her run around up here but keep her leash on."
Did anyone know where the off leash part of the park was? Was I hallucinating? What the heck was going on?
Indeed, I'd unwittingly stumbled into a mystery. I walked around with plenty of options, but not certain which direction to head. Finally I spotted a teeny tiny little sign with a teeny tiny little arrow on a post hidden beside the big map. Hmm. We started walking the way the arrow pointed. Was that it? That was the best the city could do for signage?
The pathways were wide and open and there were so many different choices of where to walk. I saw another tiny sign with an arrow pointing towards the off leash area, but still saw nothing that looked like an official off leash park. It was weird, but the hill was ripe for romping, so I let Betty off leash, not sure if I was supposed to or not. She found sticks and we played fetch and kept walking and I still had no idea where I was or where I was headed. It was pretty though. And the air was crisp and fresh and Betty was having fun and burning energy and so we kept moving.
I overheard a group of youngish men chatting as they ran past us on a path, on the other side of the small hill Betty and I were exploring. I wondered about Covid protocol as they ran by, this group of nice looking young men, complete with manbuns. Their conversation was private but it was also quite loud and kind of riveting and involved drinking and experimenting and so I smiled to myself and remembered when I was young and fit and experimental and didn't worry about things like Covid-19. Or old ladies walking their dog, eavesdropping on my conversations.
Betty and I continued along the path, probably for almost half an hour by the time I spotted a bigger sign that informed me I was approaching the Off Leash Area. What in the Hallelujah, I said to Betty. She didn't answer, because she was already off leash and busy finding big ass sticks to wrestle down. Also, she's a dog, she can't talk, silly.
The views along the off leash part of Nose Hill were lovely. Mountain views and park and city views. I have no idea how long the off leash went on for, because it was January and starting to get dark already and we had to move quickly and start walking back. DogLady no likey walking in the dark.
All in all, I have to say that the Nose HIll Off Leash Park was very confusing. I'm sure for people who go there all the time, it's easy to figure out the off leash stuff. I'm sure there's different ways to get to the off leash area, but for me it was odd. That said, the park itself is great and once were were officially Off Leash, I didn't feel guilty and enjoyed it more. There was so much room to roam. I'm sure you could walk around Nose Hill Park all day long. If I lived in North Calgary, it would definitely be a great place to take dogs. And kids who love dogs. A great outing.
Better late than never, I looked up the City of Calgary site for Nose Hill, and it says several parts of the park are dedicated to Off Leash areas. Interesting. So, there's more than one off leash area? Okay, well, we'll have go back in warmer weather and spend a few hours there, I think. And try and figure it all out.
Oh my gosh, the other thing the site says is that Nose Hill Park was once used for burials and ceremonies, and even had (has?) mystic stone circles. Ah! It's rife with juicy stories and maybe even ghosts.
I wonder if dogs are ever ghosts.
A thought for another time.
For now, I'd have to say, as a dog park I give Nose HIll Park a 4.95 Paws out of 5. As a walk, it gets a 5 out of 5 for sure, but I have to deduct for the confusion. Get better signs, city!
The City site also says that citizens of the 80's saved Nose Hill Park from being used for residential land. So, yay citizens of Calgary in the 1980's! We love what you did for us today! Now, if only we could get everyone to pick up their poop.
4.95 Paws for the Nose Hill Off Leash Dog Park
BYOB - (Bring Your Own Poop Bags).
Also, bring water in the warm months. For dogs, and children.