Foothills Excursion One: Brown-Lowery Provincial Park
As a new resident of Priddis Greens, I am exploring Alberta’s foothills with new eyes and new purpose. This beautiful area west of Calgary, Alberta is now my home.
I like to start my wanderings at the Millarville General Store, where I can stock up on provisions, grab a coffee and chat with owner Tim Babey and his friendly staff.
In fact, I often turn to Tim, a long-time resident of the Millarville area, for ideas about where to explore next. He suggested that I start with Brown-Lowery Provincial Park, a mere twelve-minute drive northwest of the store on Plummers Road. (The park is about 52 kilometres southwest of Calgary.)
I chose the Wildrose Loop on the west side of this day-use area, a four-kilometre trek. Hard to believe it took me over two hours to complete, but then, I like to stop and smell the roses – and the fleabane, cow parsnip, wood lilies, buttercups, bergamot, paintbrush, harebell, vetch, fireweed, sticky purple geraniums . . . well, you get the idea.
In my mind, cow parsnip is king of the valley, despite its commoner’s name. The trail is dotted with these glorious, person-high flowers and their fan-like leaves cover the forest floor, emitting a wonderful spicy scent. Don’t touch one though – the plant can cause a nasty rash. Just give them a regal nod as you stroll past.
With all the wonders of this shady trail, I almost missed this little beauty, one of only two wood lilies I spotted during my early July visit.
Here are some of the other wildflowers that caught my camera’s eye.
The trails throughout the park are lovingly maintained by volunteers and the numerous bridges are sturdy. However, you will want to be well shod if you visit because tree roots are just waiting to trip you up while you gaze into the depths of the surrounding forest. The trail I explored was like a secret path winding deeper and deeper into a medieval wood. Bring the kids and let their imaginations run wild.
After a short incline along a fence line heading west, I came upon a meadow simply bursting with purple fireweed cheerfully sharing space with a large stand of aspen. Named for its reliable presence shortly after a forest fire, this beautiful plant does not seem aptly called a weed (perhaps it would be in another setting). Here, in Brown-Lowery Provincial Park, it is a glory.
It wasn’t the best time of the day for photos of a western vista, but I thought this one did justice to the amazing Eagle View at the top of the hill. On the east side of the escarpment, you can see the Calgary skyline in the distance, although I didn’t attempt a photo due to haze on the horizon. Pick a bench here where you can enjoy lunch or a rest before heading back to the parking lot.
After my contemplative hike, I headed back to Millarville General Store for an ice cream and a welcome cool-down after exploring this out-of-the-way, peaceful and well-worth-visiting provincial park in Alberta’s foothills.
Until next time,