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Trails, Nature Scenes & Maps  -

Trails, Nature Scenes & Map - This is a look at various view points in and around the city, with a map and details about the various areas to bike and hike while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

1.    Ranchlands - (A) Biodiversity, many species of plants and wildlife. (B) Riparian Flats, cottonwoods, river, wetlands and history.  (C) Native Grasslands, flowering plants, and shrubs.  River View.

 

2.    Police Point Park - (A) Centuries old cottonwood trees, river views and interpretive center.  (B) Silver Sagebrush, Antelope, and Grouse.  (C) Pollinator Garden, bees, butterflies, humming birds, and bats.  (D) Cedar Was Wing feeding off of Chokecherry bushes.  (E) Enchanted forest, a biodiversity of plants and animals.

3.    Jeffries - (A) View of the South Saskatchewan River all along the Trails.  (B) St Patrick's Church (1912).  (C) Dry mixed grasses, seal in and protect plant roots.  (D) Amazing Butterflies, around the slopes and bushy areas.  (E) Lazuli Bunting bird species has a bluish gemstone appearance with splashes of orange.  (F) Ambient Air Shed monitor established to monitor air quality.

4.    McCutcheon - (A) From the observation deck you can see the CPR tracks, St Pats Church, and Riverside.  (B) Various grasses, flowers, cactus, and other plants are all along the paths.  (C) Cattails, abound along the hillside where springs are in the low areas.  (D) Watch for Meadowlarks, and listen to this yellow breasted bird, with a beautiful sound.  

5.    North West Riverside - (A) Features a section of the Trans Canada Trail, on the north side of the river from 5th Ave NW, to the Trans-Canada Highway.  A short walk takes visitors to the park beside St. Joseph’s Home.  It features 17 sculpted brick murals of the “Stations of the Cross” by local artist James Marshall.  (B) Watch for people, walking along side the homes by the river.  (C) Geese & Robins abound.  (D) The Dense Brush provides a safe haven for animals like cottontail rabbits.  Beavers also have left their work all along the trail.  

6.    Mr. Burnside - (A) Burnside Development is the area across the river from the Power House, in the river valley.  Presently some of the land is under irrigation along with native grass and tepee rings.  (B) Butterflies pollinate milkweed plants along the pathways.  (C) A 6Km winding trail through Burnside Hills, is great for mountain biking.  (D) Climate is semi-arid, and provides beautiful views of the river and river valley.  (E)  Please Respect the native species and grasslands.

7.    Gas City Campground - (A) Watch for Geese migrating thru the area, and Turkey Vultures riding the "thermals". (B) Abandoned vehicle, rusted out. (C) Lots of Mushrooms, but be aware some are poisonous.  (D) Dead and Decaying trees are a home to wildlife.  (E) Russian Olive Trees are an invasive species.  

8.    Echo Dale to Campground - From Tower Estates parking area you will discover a paved trail that meanders above the hill slopes, and a dirt trail that wanders along the South Saskatchewan River. Going east these trails will end up at the Gas City Campground and the Harlow Berm trails. Going west these trails, after several km will lead you into Echo Dale Regional Park.  (A) Watch for grasshoppers in the summer.  (B) Bus like place to rest, with bench and protection from the sun.  (C) Interesting plants and cactus are everywhere.  (D) Beautiful views of the cliffs below the town of Redcliff.  (E) Sagebrush, leafy spurge and other plants abound.

9.    Echo Dale Regional Park - The lookout is to the right at the top of the hill before driving down into the park. (A) View the beautiful red cliffs on the other side of the river.  (B) Fishing, boating, and swimming are all available here.  (C) There is a historic farm, with info on the Ajax Coal Mine, and trails and a blacksmith shop.  (D) A favourite spot for many looking for a quiet and peaceful walk. Named in tribute to Bob Townsend, a dedicated, Grasslands Naturalist.

10.  Swift River - The Swift River Scenic View is the section of the South Saskatchewan River that runs through the City of Medicine Hat. This view starts at the boat launch at Echo Dale Regional Park and ends downstream north of Police Point Park, for a total length of about 29 km. Swift River is named in honour of the Indigenous people who lived along the South Saskatchewan River for thousands of years. (A) Boating is a popular recreation activity on the river, whether you are just out for a drive, or to experience some fishing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, or floating.  (B) Common Mergansers have rusty cinnamon coloured heads and greyish bodies. Males have green heads and white bodies. These wetland birds dive underwater to catch fish, and also eat frogs and leeches.  (C) Prairie Cottonwoods provide habitat, food, and cover for many wildlife species including birds of prey, nesting and cavity birds, porcupines, rodents and insects.  (D) Birding is popular here, watch for the Great Horned Owls.  

11.  Saamis Teepee - The world’s tallest tepee stands on the edge of a Blackfoot buffalo jump. The 67 m tall structure overlooks Seven Persons Creek and its Valley System, a mosaic of hills, grasslands, and riparian areas with steep sloping coulees. (A) Medicine Hat was a sacred meeting and gathering place for the Indigenous people. They could see far and wide to keep track of where the buffalo were, and where other tribes may be approaching. In the coulees fresh water trickled, shrubs with berries grew, and the coulees created shelter for animals. In the valleys they found shelter from the wind. The coulee’s heights near the Medicine Hat College hill was used as a buffalo jump, and below the hill, archaeologists have found boiling pots.  (B) The Saamis Teepee is lit up at night.  (C) Purple Prairie Clover’s roots have an important relationship with soil bacteria. Together they are able to produce a natural, nitrogen fertilizer.  (D) Riparian areas often stay green throughout the summer while the surrounding grasslands turn yellow. They provide many values, services, and benefits including: habitat for fish and wildlife, reliable and clean water supplies, recreational opportunities, and places to connect with nature.  (E) Watch for the seed pods of the showy milkweed, an important plant for feeding and pollinating a variety of butterflies, bees, and other insects such as the Monarch butterfly.

12.  Ross Creek Coulee - Each day, many trains wind through this valley on the main line of Canadian Pacific Rail. Looking out, you can see the grain terminal in the nearby village of Dunmore, and on a clear day, you can see the outline of the Cypress Hills on the south-east horizon.  (A) Called Riparian Areas, these “wetlands” are critically important to help store and keep our water clean. Woody and other deep rooted plants such as tall sedges, rushes, and Cattails help bind the soil so it does not erode into the water body.  (B) You might see this the male Yellow Breasted Chat but in the spring you may hear a jazz symphony of whistles, cackles, chuckles, and gurgles in and around riparian areas.  (C) Prairie Crocus provides a splash of bluish to purple colour amongst dormant grass and shrub hillsides. These native plants provide an early source of food (nectar) for bees and other insects.  (D) Painted-looking rocks of orange, yellows, white, and green are actually colonies of plants called lichens (algae and fungus) that release acids into the rock, and over geologic time, help break the rock into soil. This process takes many thousands of years.  (E)  Relax, walk or Bike along these trails.

13.  Scholten Hill -  The panoramic view from the hill reveals buildings from Medicine Hat’s industrial history, such as Medalta Potteries National Historic Site which incorporates the former IXL Brick Plant. The “Five Roses” Ogilvie Flour Mill and other Grain Elevators (which are no longer in operation) serve as reminders of our agricultural heritage.  (A)  Veinerville cliffs have been made from long ago lake deposits. In the sunlight, these brownish cliffs provide some of the highest elevation and majestic views in our city. If you look carefully you may see some recent castle-like formations.  (B) From the top of Scholten Hill you can see the downtown core along the railway tracks.  (C) East of Medalta you can see the historic IXL Brick and Tile Company. It began in 1893 and is said to be the oldest industrial site in Alberta. Closed in 2010 this brick and tile plant was a leading national distributor of brick and tile, specializing in architectural masonry and cladding products.  

14.  Saratoga Park -  Saratoga Park is located along the Seven Persons Creek. At the foot of Scholten Hill, its shaded, meandering trail follows slumping, shrub and grassland slopes, and treed riparian areas.  This area was a favored campsite and burial ground used by First Nations, fur traders, buffalo hide hunters, and early settlers traveling between the Saskatchewan and Missouri River drainage basins. An informal settlement of Metis and Indigenous people thrived here in the early 20th century. Inhabited until 2010, the site of the community is now recognized as a Municipal Historic Area.  (A) “This area is significant to the Metis people who first called Medicine Hat home.” In honour of this history, Saratoga Park is designated as a Municipal Historic Area.  (B) The Blackfoot called Silver Sagebrush, a woody shrub “ah-pu-tu-uis” (weasel grass). This plant has important values, and was used in ceremonies and for cleansing. (C) Ogilvie Flour Mill was constructed in 1921. Closed today, it stands by Saratoga Park as an important part of our City’s culture and agriculture-food history.  (D) Magpies serve a valuable role in nature. These birds forage mostly by walking on the ground or they may use their bill to flip over items in search of food. Sometimes they steal food from other birds. Supposedly they may follow predators at times to pick up any scraps that they leave. They also take ticks from the backs of deer, elk, and other animals. Their diet is quite varied, but they feed on insects more consistently than most members of the crow family. They eats many grasshoppers, caterpillars, flies, beetles, as well as carrion, rodents, eggs and the young of other birds, and sometimes small snakes. Vegetable matter such as berries, seeds, and nuts may be eaten more in winter.

15.  River Bend - This is an awe-inspiring view of the South Saskatchewan River where the abundant water nourishes forests of cottonwood trees in Strathcona Island and Police Point Parks. The yellow-brown Veinerville cliffs a few hundred meters above the river were carved about 12,000 years ago by torrents of water from melting glaciers. In the winter and along the river bend you may get a rare chance to see River Otters. Also to the east, you can see where the waters of Ross and Seven Persons Creeks merge together. Belted Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons can be observed “fishing” along these river and shoreline creeks.  (A) Veinerville cliffs, nature’s castles arrived some 20 years ago from natural erosion forces including freeze and thaw. (B) White Pelicans work together and fish the South Saskatchewan River.  (C) Seven Persons Creek flows into Ross Creek. From this meeting place, and a distance of about 732 meters, both creeks flow into the South Saskatchewan River. An incredible view and gathering of water!  (D) Watch for deer and other animals along the creek banks.

16.  South East Hill - The SE Hill trail passes through a variety of woodlands and brushy areas where birds, like the Lazuli Bunting, are found hunting for seeds and insects. Towards the grassy areas located at the north end of the trail you will find many wildflowers like Harebell, Scarlet Mallow, and Butterfly Weed. At the south end of the SE Hill, you can view Medicine Hat College, and the Saamis Tepee constructed above the valley of Seven Persons Creek.  (A) You can exercise by climbing the over 140 steps between South Railway Street and 6th Avenue SE at Belfast Street SE, or the over 100 steps from 6th Street SE at the top of Hill Road to Kingsway Avenue.  (B) Relax on a nearby bench, and receive inspiration.  (C) The school and mill are now closed but once important places for learning and making food.  (D) Great views from the South East Hill such as the North Flats, Canadian Pacific Railway Station, Ross Creek Coulee, and native grassland hills near the Exhibition Stadium and Grounds.

17.  Connaught Pond -  Developed as an irrigation water reservoir, the pond and its surrounding forest and grassland vegetation also offers a variety of water and recreation uses including summer and winter ice fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Birds such as Caspian Terns, Yellow-Headed and Red-Winged Blackbirds, as well as several species of ducks, frequent this pond in warmer months. Across the causeway to the north, a scenic coulee trail leads down through woodlands and grassy areas to Seven Persons Creek and the extensive trail and park system along its banks to the South Saskatchewan River.  (A) Trees like Russian Olive and Common Buckthorn, flowering invasive plants like Creeping Bell Flower, and invasive grasses like Downy Brome. Controlling them in your home yards reduces these noxious plants and prevents them from establishing and spreading into our green spaces.  (B) The Red-Winged Black bird makes its home around water bodies like ponds, creeks, and river.  (C) The pond has trout and can be fished with a license.  (D) The South East Alberta Watershed Alliance is working with the city to find ways to control the establishment and spread at Connaught Pond and in other areas of the city of the Russian Olive trees and its leaves and fruit. 

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