M.D. of Foothills Mayor Larry Spilak says a growing number of new residents in the area are younger couples to middle-age professionals who are choosing to raise their families in a rural environment. CREB®Now file photo.

The backdrop to the M.D. of Foothills is currently awash with the vibrant colours of autumn. What better way to enjoy the fall foliage than by searching out some local hidden gems? CREBNow has compiled a list of must-sees for the M.D. in the fall.

Scenic School Search

Take in the gold and crimson of autumn with a road trip to one of the M.D. of Foothills’ historic
school sites. Noted destinations include Big Hill School, DeWinton High School, Maple Leaf School, Windy Hill School and Millarville School. Sheep Creek School in Millarville, which first opened in 1951, is still in operation today, while Blackie School, one of the oldest within the M.D. has been around since 1913. Blackie School has undergone a number of renovations over the years, including a two-storey addition in 1925 and eight new classrooms added in 1959.

A Taste of Cowboy History

Commemorate Canadian ranching history at Bar U ranch, nestled in the foothills just west of the Cowboy Trail and Highway 540 junction. Established in 1882, the ranch was once home to visitors such as cattlemen Patrick Burns and Fred Stimson, cowboy artist Charley Russell, Edward Prince of Wales and the Sundance Kid Harry Longabaugh. While it’s now closed for the season, visitors can still get a taste of cowboy history by attending a prime rib dinner or wing night held at the ranch’s visitor centre until Oct. 30.

Frequent Frank Lake

Experience the sights and sounds of fall at its finest by making the 50-kilometre trip southeast of Calgary to Frank Lake. Once completely dry, the wetland was saved in 1988 when Ducks Unlimited – in partnership with municipal, provincial and federal governments – installed a pipeline to restore the lake to former levels. Visitors to the lake, comprised of more than 1,200 hectares of flooded area and almost 700 hectares of managed upland habitat, can see more than 190 plant species, 194 bird species and 16 mammal species.

Saskatoon Snacks

Just south of the city off Highway 2, the Saskatoon Farm, operated by Paul and Karen Hamer, offers a blend of prairie berry awesomeness, a plethora of plants and good ol’ home cooking in a western town setting. While the Saskatoon picking season commences July and August, the farm is open throughout the year, offering sweet treats such as pies, jam, syrup and honey, as well as buffalo sausages and farm fresh eggs.