WHERE TO GO: Parking lot is unmarked, can be found off the south side of 23rd Avenue, west of 119th Street.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: While the river valley is lauded over and over when people speak of the city’s green spaces, the hiking trails at Mactaggart Sanctuary are just as praiseworthy.
Located at the fork of the Whitemud and Blackmud Creeks, this nature preserve features some graded challenges on narrow paths, with tree roots providing natural staircases to help get you over some of the steeper inclines. There are loops running off of loops, but as long as you keep close to the creek to the left of the trail network, you’re not going to get lost. On our walk, about 45 minutes from the lot and back, we saw plenty of pink, purple and yellow wildflowers, wild berries, white and orange mushrooms and squadrons of dragonflies. There is plenty of birdsong, but you have to keep your eyes peeled through the thick brush to spot from where the tweets are coming. You will start off well above the creek, crossing a bridge near the parking lot. The path then rises and soon parallels the edge of a cliff, with the reddish water running below. The path takes some steep drops, great work for the ankles, until you get to a wood dam, the work of beavers, that transforms the creek into a duck-filled reservoir. Checking Flickr and Twitter, there have been reports and pictures of owls and even a lynx spotted in the Sanctuary. We had no such luck on the August long weekend, but a morning of greenery and the sound of rushing water was a heck of a soul revival. You really get no concept that you’re only a shout away from 23rd Avenue to the north and the Anthony Henday to the south.