Feature: MD of Foothills

Discover hidden gems a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Calgary

For those who call the area home, the MD of Foothills is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Comprised of rolling hills, golden wheat fields, leafy woodlands and mountain vistas, the 3,600-square-kilometre area south of the Calgary city limits surrounds the towns of Okotoks, High River, Turner Valley and Black Diamond as well as the village of Longview and Eden Valley Indian Reserve.

A stone’s throw from Calgary`s amenities, the MD is home to its fair share of hidden gems and CREBNow has compiled just a few.

Cowboy Trail

Running from Cardston to Mayorthorpe, the Cowboy Trail is an homage to the First Nations, cowboys and settlers who made the area of foothills, forests and grasslands into what it is today. For those looking to get a taste of the West, the Cowboy Trail and Highway 22 offers a scenic route apart from Highway 2.

Along the Cowboy Trail, drivers and cyclists will see grazing cattle, galloping horses and the odd deer or moose. The scenery changes from golden wheat fields to green poplar groves, and passes towns such as Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Bragg Creek.

Leighton Art Centre

Named after Alfred Crocker (A.C.) Leighton, member of the Royal Society of British Art and famed painter of several vistas of the Canadian Rockies and woodlands, the Leighton Art Centre serves to preserve the memory of the man and encourage the arts to children and adults alike.

The centre`s motto is “to unleash the art in everyone.” It offers workshops, summer camps and events such as the Clothesline Festival and Art Sale, which represents more than 70 Alberta artists.

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Brown-Lowery Provincial Park

Tucked in the northwest corner of the MD, Brown-Lowery Park is named after Alberta oilmen Robert Brown Sr. and Maj. James Lowery. Brown had success in the oilfields of Turner Valley dating back to 1914, while Lowery founded Home Oil in 1925.

The land the park sits on was donated to the province in 1969 – though it wasn’t designated as a provincial park until 1992. Today, the park is maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers.

The Saskatoon Farm

Saskatoons are a common sight throughout the rolling hills southeast of Calgary. At the epicentre sits The Saskatoon Farm, a 20-hectare u-pick orchard just a 20-minute drive outside of Calgary off Highway 2.

Visitors can peruse a variety of plants, fruits and vegetables for sale, as well as check out the on-site gift shop and Giddy Up Cafe. The cafe features home-style dishes such as Farmer’s Biscuit and Buffalo Chili, as well as special dishes Super Sopes and Chicken Fiesta by its Mexican chefs.

The farm’s namesake has been a staple in prairie diets since the days it was used by the Blackfoot tribes of the plains. Saskatoons are most often found in open woods, coulees and bluffs.

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Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area

In 1987, Ann and Sandy Cross donated more than 800 hectares of land southwest of Calgary to the province in the name of conservation. At the time, it was the largest private land donation in Canadian history and was operated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

In 1996, the Cross’s donated a further 1,133 hectares, bringing the total size of the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA) to 12 square kilometres. Today, the area features several hiking paths and is home to Belvedere House, an education centre that offers programs for schools, outreach and organized groups and summer day camps.

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