The roads out from Calgary to Bragg Creek are often crowded with makeshift peletons of road bikes. These long flat stretches with extra wide shoulders make it the perfect place to train for triathlons.
Head a few more kilometres west and grab a parking lot and those with knobs on their fatter tires will also find a place to get their gears on.
There’s also an info booth at the entrance to K Country on Highway 66 where you can get maps and advice on trail choices for the day. Most of the trails emphasize the mountain part with total elevation gains and losses between 1000 and 2000 metres. You can find rides for 2 hours to full day adventures with terrain taking you through alpine meadows and high passes.
We chose the Powderface trail linked with the Prairie Creek trail. It’s a 13k loop that sends you straight up a 300m elevation gain for the first 5k before bumping you up and down for the remainder. The climax is a spectacular valley view standing atop a rocky cliff before taking the final 3k straight back down to the creek and the highway. The loop can also be done counterclockwise with a gradual climb and then steep descent, but we preferred getting the serious climb out of the way.
I call the post mountain biking hiking, since the trail is mixed use. We ran into half a dozen other cyclists and even more hikers sharing the road through the mountains. The trail guides call it a 1.5hr ride, we would say it’s more like 2 and we did it in 3. My quads cramped heavily, I didnt have the endurance to tackle the stiff climbs and my bike is a 10 year old ride with my commuter slicks on, not the nobby tires needed to conquer the rocks and mud. Despite the punishment, it was a great afternoon in the city’s sweetest playground.
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