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Paradise Trail
Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area, Alberta
October 15, 2020

Distance: 8.7 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 217 m

Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area provides short, pleasant hikes close to the city of Calgary. The longest of these, Paradise Trail, incorporates parts of other trails to create an 8.4 km loop. Paradise runs through meadows and aspen groves while climbing over hillocks. Catering to casual hikers, amenities abound throughout the area from trail signs and maps to benches and picnic tables. Parking passes, which help cover operating costs, can be obtained online for $10.

I hiked Paradise Trail clockwise since the biggest drop is at the west end. This puts the highest climb near the start of the trip rather than at the end. But since the route offers a net elevation gain of only 100 m, it's not exactly daunting whichever direction you take.

Because of signs, navigation is simple, but I stayed on Paradise Trail by keeping left at the junctions. Only at the end of the loop, did I stray off this course. I took a shortcut trail to climb a rise called Mountain Lookout. I couldn't resist reaching the highest point in the conservation. But don't expect awe-inspiration scenery here or anywhere: you are closer to the city than you are to the mountains. However, for a short hike without a long drive, and while contributing to a nature preserve, consider visiting Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area.

KML and GPX Tracks

The hike begins at the parking lot

Aspen trail is right, Mountain Lookout ahead. I continued to the next fork and turned left onto Fescue

Fescue trail soon drops into the valley below

The trail enters the trees and continues to drop

The lowest point on the entire hike is ahead

The trail climbs through trees and pops out onto a meadow

I passed a cooking shelter, I assume, and an outhouse

The trail runs into aspens ahead

Hiking through aspens

Looking back: passing through forests and meadows is a reoccurring theme

Turning onto Paradise trail

I was fortunate to spot a ruffed grouse by the trail

At the west end of the trail, there's a view of faraway mountains

After the viewpoint, the trail turns east and is in trees for most of the way back

Paradise trail runs into Aspen trail. Right runs more directly to the parking lot, but I went left

Hiking on the Aspen trail. A cook shelter can be seen in the trees.

I took a trail to reach the rise on the left: Mountain Lookout

Standing on the highest point in the conservation

82 J/16 Priddis

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