Driving Distance, Calgary: Bragg Creek

The hamlet of Bragg Creek, branded as the “Gateway to Kananaskis,” is just 30 short kilometres west of Calgary and offers stressed-out workers, couples, and families a quick urban escape to the natural and immersive beauty of our province. A longtime hub of outdoor recreation for Calgarians, Bragg Creek offers visitors a wealth of nature experiences, and easily links an overactive brain to the fierce but beautifully rustic times of our great and great-great grandparents.

So, take a deep breath. Then take Hwy. 8 (or 22) to Cowboy Trail and, after a few minutes, you’ll be in Rocky View County’s Division No. 6, better known as Bragg Creek.

To begin, clear your head with the Bragg Creek Walk, which starts with a majestic march along the Centennial Pathway (opened in 2005 by the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association). The nature trail, a permanent celebration of Alberta’s 100th anniversary, winds along the Elbow River, past the historic Trading Post, and connects with a paved sidewalk, which will lead you to White Avenue and into the township of Bragg Creek. It’s important to remember that K-Country is no joke: Bears and cougars are always in the area, so be sure to take the proper safety precautions.

Once in Bragg Creek, be sure to check out the abundance of old-timey shops in the hamlet’s core; they’ll give you a great flavour for the community and its residents. You’ll find antiques, art galleries, mountain gear, spas, and wine merchants.

If there’s plenty to see in Bragg Creek, there’s even more to taste. To appease the traditional Prairie palette, try the Bragg Creek Steak Pit (50 White Ave.). Notables on the menu include braised back ribs and bison rib eye, along with a half-dozen other meaty options. If you can’t stand to be away from the city lights for too long, the Powderhorn Saloon amplifies the Wild West motif while offering modern entertainment (Flames games, billiards, VLTs, live music).

The rest of the culinary world is also well represented in Bragg Creek. The Bavarian Inn’s Chef Charlie puts together new seasonal dishes each week. Not far off, on Balsam Avenue, authentic Italian restaurant Madrina’s offers a surreal alpine atmosphere around its dining room and terrace.

If the charm of Bragg Creek has you wanting to stay a night or two, or you have caving, paintball, or snowshoeing to do in the morning, the area boasts many inns and bed & breakfasts. A Five Star Canada Select certified retreat, the Riveside Chateau sits on four-acres of prime riverfront, and offers rooms complete with goose down duvets, wireless Internet, stereo systems and DVD players.

Image courtesy of Glenn Alexon.

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