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West Nose Creek self guided walk

Welcome to West Nose Creek Park!

This is a self-guided walk that you can take at any time it suits you. There are several stops along the trails to tell you about this beautiful natural park.

Follow the pathways to reach the different stops. At each stop tap on the stop to learn more about what you see around you.

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Stop 1: Welcome

This is a self-guided walk that you can take at any time it suits you. There are several stops along the trails to tell you about this beautiful natural park.

Follow the pathways to reach the different stops. At each stop tap on the stop to learn more about what you see around you.


Stop 2: Meet a tree

These trees are part of a birthplace forest planted in 2007 for all of the children born that year. The neat thing about these forests is the diversity of tree species planted. How many different kinds of trees can you spot as you walk?

Watch for evergreen coniferous (cone-bearing) trees like the often-confused spruce and pine. Spruce are the ones that look like Christmas trees and have a cone shape. Their needles are short and come straight out of the branch. Pine have much longer needles, which are usually bundled in groups.

When in doubt you can shake hands with a tree branch and see how it feels. Is it a:

  • Spiky spruce
  • Pokey pine
  • Friendly fir
  • Lovely larch

Stop 3: A path less travelled

As you continue down the path it will veer to the left, and you will see a less distinct path heading off to the right. Take this right-hand path to stay on the guided walk route.

You will soon approach the creek-bed, as you do imagine the city disappearing around you. Instead you are surrounded by open prairie, like the first nations people long ago who used to use this space. You may have even seen herds of bison grazing in the distance. The winds on the prairies can be harsh, but this valley offered and still offers protection from the elements.


Stop 4: Prairie grassland

Though it may not look very diverse the grasslands around you are important ecosystems. Originally this was all native prairie grassland which is one of the most threatened ecosystem in the world, with only 3% remaining. An important part of this ecosystem is the Fescue or bunch grasses. They were one of the main food sources for the herds of Bison that once roamed this area. In order to survive in the dry summer sun these grasses have developed roots that can go down six feet or more! This makes Fescue very resilient to grazing.


Stop 5: A day in the life of a creek

Creeks and rivers and often consider almost alive in that they are continually moving and changing. Through time this creek has flooded, bent and changed course many times. This is really important when it comes to uncovering how this area was used in the past. Floods stir up soil and silt and deposit it in other areas. In the same way that rings in a tree can tell us about each year in that tree's life, these deposits can tell us a lot about the life of the creek and the people and animals that have used it over time. West Nose Creek Park is home to several different archaeological sites. Evidence of campsites, bison bones, and pieces of tools have been found in the area. Along with oral histories these pieces of evidence help us to have a better understanding about the historical importance of this area.   


Stop 6: Hillside symphony

Many of the steep hillsides along West Nose Creek are covered in native shrubs. You might see species like Saskatoon, silverberrry, northern gooseberry, Canada buffaloberry and wild rose. This diversity of bushes is great to have, not just for the beauty of the species, but for the habitat. May small song birds find their food and make their nests in the bushes on these slopes. Listen for the "sweet-sweet-sweet-I'm-so-sweet" of the yellow warbler, the distinct "meow" of the grey catbird, or the melodic squeaky chirping of an American goldfinch. If it isn't too noisy during your visit, consider coming back at dawn or dusk to hear the symphony on the hill. 


Stop 7: Pause and ponder

Take a moment to observe the creek and listen to it trickling along. While stopped on or near the bridge set a timer for 1 minute, then pause and look and listen to everything around you. How many sounds did you hear? Did you notice any new wildlife? How about insects?

We don't always notice insects until we slow down. Many insects here in the park start their life cycles in the water or on the shore of the creek. They eventually hatch into their adult stage and take flight. These insects are food that keeps lots of other animals healthy, but they can tell us a lot about how healthy the creek is too. When we see an insect that we know only survives in very healthy water we call that an indicator species. It indicates that the creek is clean and healthy. Some water quality indicator species to look for are mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies.


Stop 8: Grassland glider

The northern harrier is a common bird of prey seen in this park. It is very unique because it uses an adaptation usually used only by owls. This adaptation or special physical feature is its disc shaped face. The facial-disc helps to trap sound, making it so the harrier can hear small rodents moving in the grass as it floats low over the prairies. Watch for this bird of prey flying low or standing on the ground. They build their nests on the ground amongst the prairie grasses- so it is a good idea to keep them safe by staying on trail and keeping your dog on-leash. 


Stop 9: Bugs to swallow

Look to your left as you cross the bridge and you will see exposed creek bank with some small holes in it. These holes are actually dug by little birds called bank swallows. The males dig the holes, then the females build the nest inside. This a great place for them to nest because it has good protection from predators and it has lots of food provided by the creek. Bank swallows are specialists in eating flying insects, but to do this they have to be amazing acrobats in the air.  Watch for them flying around above West Nose Creek. Having a creek-side condo means fresh food right outside your door when you’re a bank swallow. 


Stop 10: Coyote camouflage

The tall grass in this park is great camouflage for one of our urban predators - the coyote. Coyotes benefit from the productive creek habitat by eating mice and voles. Coyotes are generally shy when they see humans. If you are concerned about walking in a park that coyotes call home just remember to keep you pets on-leash and make lots of noise and wave your arms if a coyote approaches. Generally, you needn't be concerned about coyotes, but instead enjoy the chance to admire these adaptive hunters. If you are lucky enough to see a coyote hunt you will notice them using their big ears to listen carefully, their long snout to sniff the air, and their quick wits to pounce on their prey. Imagine finding and catching a mouse with your bare hands - We would dare you to try but let’s leave them for the coyotes and northern harriers.


Bonus stop: Split rock

If you have some extra time consider taking the paved pathway up to this awe inspiring feature. This split rock has been here for thousands of years, since it was dropped by a glacier as the glacier melted away. When you find a big rock all on its own, like this one, it is likely left by a glacier and so given the name glacial erratic. Over time this rock has split from a freeze thaw weathering cycle. It was likely also used by bison to rub off their winter wool. See if you can walk through the middle or take a back scratch like a bison.