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In Praise of the Underrated Interpretive Trail
Three places to find interpretive trails for walking and learning
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When was the last time you went on an interpretive trail?
We were lucky enough to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park this summer, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites featuring informative interpretive trails.
Dinosaur Provincial Park’s Trail of the Fossil Hunters
We love this type of trail! Interpretive trails are typically short and occasionally more accessible to wheelchairs (or strollers or tiny toddler legs) than other trails.
Then there’s the learning along the way, with each trail telling a story through signs. When you slow down and read these signs, you quickly gain a deeper appreciation for the significance of where you are. You can better understand why this place matters and who came before you on this landscape.
Dinosaur PP’s Trail of the Fossil Hunters (above) and Cottonwood Flats Trail (below)
In Dinosaur Provincial Park, for example, on the Cottonwood Flats Trail, we saw a 200-year-old Cottonwood tree. Which is impressive to begin with, but became even more impressive after we wandered the loop and learned just how many factors have to align for young cottonwoods to survive.
Dinosaur Provincial Park has four short interpretive trails, each focused on a different theme: prairie grasslands, badlands, fossil hunters and cottonwood trees. Numerous detailed signs on the trails will teach you more about those themes.
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park’s Matapiiksi (Hoodoo) Interpretive Trail
In Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, the Matapiiksi (Hoodoo) Interpretive Trail has 15 numbered posts along the trail that correspond to this trail guide. There’s lots to learn and see on this out-and-back trail that’s about 5 kilometres return.
And closer to Calgary, there’s a new interpretive walk we recently explored. We’ve written previously about the exciting Bow to Bluff project in the inner-city Calgary community of Sunnyside.
One of this project’s final touches was interpretive signs, which have now been placed throughout the corridor. Walk this space to learn how one of Calgary’s oldest communities evolved into what it is today.
The signage is expansive and also honest, acknowledging histories like the community’s early marketing as an ‘elite’ subdivision and why racism meant not everyone felt welcome.
You’re sure to walk away having learned something new about this community and Calgary’s early days — who knew there were impressive toboggan and ski runs in the area in the early 1900s?!
Is there an interpretive trail you love? Let us know in the comments!