Biking and Brews in Medicine Hat

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This article is part of our #BucketlistAB campaign – allowing you to string together an assortment of destinations across Alberta’s south for a road trip you won’t soon forget. Start here and be sure to use the tag #BucketlistAB and let us know how the travels are going!


Medicine Hat, AB - At approximately 7:25 AM, the sun crested the eastern horizon and brilliant beams of white light shot through the leaning lodge poles on the massive teepee (the largest teepee in the world, they say!). It was a classic prairie sunrise and, given the temperature hovered around zero, I welcomed the warmth. But, to be completely honest, I wasn't actually cold. When you cycle along the amazing biking trails in Medicine Hat you tend to work up a pretty good sweat!

Go bike across Canada’s Sunniest city, borrow a bike for free

Fittingly, the trail I was riding that morning was called the Sunrise Trail. And, meandering along the coulee high above Seven Persons Creek, the beautiful pathway (it's paved) is just one of many in the renowned Heritage Trail Network in “The Hat.” In fact, there are over 115 kilometers of (mostly) paved pathways in the system, linking nine major parks and numerous other green spaces throughout the city.

Medicine Hat
Photographer: Andrew Penner

The soaring Saamis Teepee was constructed in 1988 for the Calgary Winter Olympics. It's a tribute to Canada's native heritage and features 10 circular story boards at its base that depict native culture and history. Without a doubt, it is the most recognizable structure in Medicine Hat. Relocating it to the edge of the coulee in Medicine Hat was an excellent idea. People can park beside it to wander through the structure or, like me – ride up and down the coulee before reaching it.

Medicine Hat is more than a drive-thru. It’s a destination.

Med Hat
Photographer: Andrew Penner

While biking the scenic pathways in Medicine Hat is certainly a memorable way to experience this historic city in the southeast corner of Alberta, there are many other attractions and things to see that don't require two-wheeled transportation. Medalta Potteries in the Historic Clay District, for example, is a definite highlight in “The Gas City.” And, for beer enthusiasts, the three craft breweries in Medicine Hat are all award-winning “outfits” that certainly belong on Medicine Hat's tourism “map.”

On my recent shoulder-season visit, I incorporated all of this and more. And, to be honest, I felt like I barely scratched the surface of what this scenic prairie outpost has to offer.

Situated on the rolling banks of the South Saskatchewan River (approximately 300 kilometers east of Calgary), many motorists speed right on through on the Trans Canada Highway and never do Medicine Hat justice. And, I must confess, I often take the fast-track through town and fail to explore the merits, the nooks and crannies, of what makes Medicine Hat one of the unsung urban gems in Alberta. But, thankfully, this trip was different.

Stop for a coffee to recharge for the rest of the morning

Medicine Hat
Photographer: Andrew Penner

After a morning ride on the Sunrise Trail, I made my way downtown to check out the Madhatter Coffee Roastery, a local institution.

Being a coffee lover, it didn't take me long to realize that the Madhatter Coffee Roastery is a special place. Featuring small-batch roasts with carefully selected organic beans from around the world, the mouth-watering aromas that regularly waft through the downtown core when the roaster is, well, roasting, is enough to pull anyone in!

High on caffeine, I headed to Medalta Potteries in The Historic Clay District for a tour of this fascinating industrial museum and community arts hub. A National Historic Site, Medalta Potteries, which began operating well over a hundred years ago, is a one-of-a-kind facility that affords visitors a trip back in time to the early clay-based industries that were an economic lifeline in Medicine Hat. Near the turn of the century, Medalta Potteries produced over 75% of the pottery products in Canada.

“When people come to the Visitor Center, which is right by the Saamis Teepee, we'll often recommend they visit Medalta,” says Abby Czibere with Tourism Medicine Hat. “It offers an interesting and interactive experience that can be enjoyed by everyone, young and old.”

After touring the factory, we made our way to the studio and were given a chunk of clay to mold into our own piece of pottery. I'd like to tell you I made an exquisite bowl, a perfectly-formed baking dish, or a lovely urn. But, as it turns out, my “circular” senses need some work. My intended beer mug looked more like some type of caveman stone carving project gone horribly awry.

Craft beer caps off the day

But, thanks to a trip-closing visit to the brand new Travois Ale Works Brewery, I got over it quickly. At Travois, situated in a cool refurbished retro building downtown, they served me a flight of delicious, hand-crafted six perfectly-formed glasses, to boot. And this, like my entire visit to Medicine Hat in general, made me very happy.

When you go

For more information about Medicine Hat, go to the official Medicine Hat tourism webpage here.

Read more about Medicine Hat via our two or three day itinerary.

This article is part of our #BucketlistAB campaign – allowing you to string together an assortment of destinations across Alberta’s south for a road trip you won’t soon forget. Start here and be sure to use the tag #BucketlistAB and let us know how the travels are going!

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