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Improved trail offers local recreation option

Improvements made to Lasso Trail include a new bridge, an upgraded parking lot, a solar-activated pedestrian crossing and switchbacks to address the path's steepness. Photo Submitted/For Rocky View Publishing

This summer, Rocky View County (RVC) hopes residents will take advantage of an improved trail in the Bearspaw area. While the upgrades to Lasso Trail were completed last summer, Theresa Cochran, manager of Recreation, Parks and Community Support, said 2019 will be the first year hikers can use the amenity for the entire season.

“It’s a great opportunity for residents, now that it’s getting warm, to go walk your dog and get outside,” she said. “Bearspaw’s quite beautiful.”

The 2.5-kilometre loop is located on Township Road 253, south of Highway 1A, Cochran said. The trail covers approximately 40 acres of County-owned municipal and environmental reserve, traversing past a pond, through a steep ravine, over open plans and between stands of aspen trees.

Lasso Trail was established in the 1980s, according to Cochran, and over the past few years, RVC identified increasing concerns about safety.

“Some of the trails were too steep, and there wasn’t very good parking,” Cochran said, noting hikers were also forced to unsafely cross a road to access the trail.

In 2017, RVC council approved the trail project as a special initiative, assigning $49,000 toward its completion. According to Cochran, the project also benefitted from a $100,000 endowment from the McDonald Development Corporation.

“For us to be able to manage the continual improvements through our own tax base is challenging,” she said. “When we get generous donations like that, it’s really helpful.”

The goal of the initiative was to improve public safety and assist people in finding the route, Cochran said. A solar-activated pedestrian crossing was installed to keep hikers safe, and the parking lot was also upgraded.

To address the path’s steepness, Cochran said, switchbacks were incorporated along the route. Five benches have been strategically located throughout the trail to establish viewpoints overlooking the surrounding landscape, and a new bridge was installed over a creek at the bottom of the ravine.

Throughout the summer, Cochrane said she hopes residents from all corners of the county will check out the improved amenity.

“If you’re looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon, and you’re sick of walking in the same communities or the same areas that you always do, it’s great to take a drive out there,” she said.

According to Cochran, RVC strives to provide recreation opportunities – like Lasso Trail – that enable residents to stay active and enjoy their own municipality.

“It’s important for us to provide those amenities to our residents without them having to drive far away,” she said.

In a diverse county , it can be challenging to provide recreation options that meet the needs of both rural and urban residents, Cochran admitted. Despite that, she said, RVC is endeavoring to better understand the recreation needs of residents, and to provide amenities, like Lasso Trail, that address them.

“[Recreation] helps to enhance your quality of life,” she said. “Most people know that getting outside to a park or pathway or being able to go for a bike ride really does enhance your quality of life, and your mental health and all the things that go along with that.”
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