Cobble Flats – Kananaskis Country – Hiking Alberta

Cobble Flats lies along the Elbow River near the end of Hwy 66 in the shadow of Forget-Me-Not Mountain.  In prior years, Cobble Flats offered an excellent opportunity to enjoy a picnic or barbeque beside a picturesque canal hosting a footbridge, with side rails to lean on, for enjoyment of the calm flow of quiet, reflective water in the canal.  The bridge led to quiet forest strolls along a matrix of good trail on the far side of the canal.  For me, this special place holds indelible memories of conversations and camaraderie within interrupted but prevailing friendship.  When Grandson, Michael, and I arrive, it is immediately obvious, and not surprising, the June 2013 floods have created havoc here.  The bridge is gone.  The canal is wider with faster running water, even this late in the season.  Much of the dense, surrounding shrubbery has been swept away.  Many mature trees are still collapsing into unstable ground.  Some of the pathways have survived with significant modification.  Many are gone, washed away forever.  Michael and I will hike on and off trail to survey damage at rivers edge in the immediate vicinity of the two adjacent parking areas.

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The original location of the small bridge over a narrower canal at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Ground and plant life at Cobble Flats has been swept away in the June 13 floods in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

As Mike and I hike our way on rustic trail, or through brush beside the widened canal, the dislodged bridge appears to be jammed in place downstream.

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What remains of the badly damaged canal footbridge seems to jammed downstream at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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What remains of the badly damaged canal footbridge seems to jammed downstream at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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A closer view of what remains of the badly damaged canal footbridge which seems to jammed downstream at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

We are able to get fairly close to the damaged footbridge but final access is denied by fast running inflow, or ancillary tributaries, near the damaged and relocated footbridge.  Mike and I continue exploring the edge of the Elbow River.  Surrounding terrain is badly scrambled.  Bedrock at river edge has been exposed where all ground cover has been washed away.  The Elbow River has a number of revised channels and the much larger rocky apron is littered with dead trees and miscellaneous lumber.  Isolated ponds of crystal-clear, still water are nearly artistic pieces with shadow and reflection making the surface come alive.

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The damaged footbridge is directly across from this position past fast running water at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Mike and I are unable to conveniently reach the damaged bridge at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Some of the crystal-clear ponds host reflective shadow and are like art works at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Large tracts of shoreline have been washed away, exposing bedrock at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Flood debris litters the shoreline at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The views east along the Elbow River show the vast amount of land which has been swept away

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Still, clear water, reflective ponds isolated from the Elbow River shoreline at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The view east along large rocky borders of Elbow River at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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The view further east along Elbow River is cluttered with dead trees swept away by flood at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

On the return hike to the parking area, there are numerous examples of survival and regrowth.  Many newly-formed channels of Elbow River provide a matrix of water paths as foreground with Forget-Me-Not Mountain looming behind.  Some earth, hosting a bush, remains stubbornly attached to a large boulder stranded in the river after the flood swept all the surroundings away.  I join Mike and skip a few stones across the water in Elbow River.  As the sun settles low in the south-west sky, Forget-Me-Not Mountain establishes a prominent presence on the horizon.

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A bush struggles to survive on a large, stranded boulder in the Elbow River at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Forget-Me-Not Mountain looms large behind the new channels of the Elbow River at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Michael skips flat stones on the Elbow River at Cobble Flats with Forget-Me-Not Mountain behind in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

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Low sun reflecting off the Elbow River with Forget-Me-Not Mountain behind at Cobble Flats in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Mike and I stop in at Bragg Creek on the drive home for customary ice cream at Frontier Candy and Ice Cream.  The grand-weather, weekend day combined with motorcycles, a Show and Shine and flood reconstruction has turned the parking lot into a crowded mess.  When we finally get parked, Mike and I discover a long line of customers waiting for ice cream, so we concede defeat and drive the rest of the way for ice cream in Calgary to end our day of adventure.  We need to do this more often.

Photographs for this post on June 2013 flood damage at Cobble Flats were taken on October 5, 2014 in Kananaskis Country west of Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada.

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Diamond T Loop – Kananaskis Country – Hiking Alberta

Grandson, Michael, and I will tackle a short, autumn hike from Station Flats along Hwy 66 in Kananaskis Country west of Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada.  The trailhead begins at the obvious kiosk on the left (west) side of the dual parking area at Station Flats.  We park in the busy east lot occupied primarily by mountain bikers, where the biffy resides, and walk a few metres west on path through forest to the predominantly equestrian area and the trail kiosk.  Almost immediately Mike and I arrive at a Y trail junction and decide to veer right to hike the trail counter clockwise.  We hike on damp trail shared by the Tom Snow and Diamond T trails, through evergreen forest to the left, and marshland on the right.  A pair of horseback riders pass us near the gated fence.  The wide and mildly undulating trail gradually gains elevation.  Diamond T trail is a half day hike tagged at 4.5 KM (2.8 miles) in length with 130 m (427 ft) net elevation.  Gross elevation is higher.  Maximum elevation at the viewpoint is 1,545 m (5,069 ft.).

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Taking the Tom Snow/Diamond T trail to the right at the Y on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Following equestrian riders through the gate on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.  The gate must be kept closed.  We offer to do that and  close the gate for them after we pass through

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Dense mossy evergreen forest to the left and muskeg right on wide, wet trail along Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

About a kilometre into the hike, the trail curls sharply and descends into the valley of Chaarhziya Waptan or Willow Creek (Ref: Kananaskis Country Trail Guide 4th Edition, Volume 2, Pg. 49) on a picturesque, sturdy bridge.  The creek shows obvious evidence of 2013 flood impact, but it seems the bridge either held or has been repaired/replaced.  A short distance past the bridge, Mike and I hike up and out of the drainage and soon arrive at the trail junction where the Tom Snow trail continues north and Diamond T trail hangs a left.  Mike and I steal a moment for self-absorbing photos.

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Mike ponders the meaning of life on the bridge over Willow Creek in Charrhziya Waptan valley along Tom Snow trail shared section of the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Yours truly at the Tom Snow/ Diamond T trail junction along the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Michael at the Tom Snow / Diamond T trail junction along the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

From the junction, the Diamond T trail initially gains slight elevation into deciduous forest with open grassy sections above evergreen forest in the valley to the left.  As we crest the tops of hills, there are excellent and expansive views ahead.

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diverse forest on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Approaching the first crest of the grassy knoll on Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Hiking on clear trail around the side of the hill on Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The emergence of long views ahead on Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Descending the other side of the hill with expansive views on Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The Diamond T trail arrives at a three-way trail junction near a creek crossing.  The more prominent, left leading trail, which begins to climb, is actually the Race of Spades downhill mountain biking course.  We stand aside to allow two riders to rocket past us with a very friendly and visibly exhausted dog in hot pursuit.  The less travelled and substantially less attractive route Mike and I need is clearly tagged with a red marker off to the left of Race of Spades.  Initially this section is damp and muddy.  Significant flood damage has been done to drainage patterns in this area so we navigate a number of minor wet crossings and a stepping-stone crossing of Willow Creek above a tiny, but picturesque, waterfall in a field of flood-scattered rock.  The cutline we are hiking begins to gain elevation more aggressively.  At the top of the hill we find a descent which will negate our climbing effort.  To add insult to injury, the next leg requires climbing similar elevation again with the added adventure of climbing over, and crawling under, forest obstacles.  Is there no end to the fun?  Past another dip, the trail veers left off the cutline and continues to climb alongside a fence.  Mike and I continue to ascend on excellent, dry trail through forest.

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Turning onto our roué at the junction with Race of Spades along the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop crosses Willow Creek at this tiny waterfall in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The Diamond T Loop gains elevation more aggressively to the top of a hill in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

At the top of the hill Mike and I discover we will give back all that elevation gain on the Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The cutline ascent continues again with obstacles on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Near the top of the final indignity the Diamond T trail veers left through forest in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Trail quality at higher elevation is excellent and sun filtering through predominately lodge-pole pine forest creates excellent and moving shadow visuals as we twist and turn our way into sky for eventual arrival at another three-way junction.

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Good trail gains elevation modestly en route to the viewpoint junction along the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Shadows accentuate the moss ground cover as trail twist to ridge top off the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The subtle viewpoint sign at the top of the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Mike sets up for lunch at the bench at ridge top above the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The long lens steals a slim view through lodgepole pine forest clogging the viewpoint above Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

The old log bench, in early years, provides an outstanding view east across historic ranch land sheltered by rolling foothills in the Elbow Valley long before Kananaskis Country was established as one of the best outdoor recreation areas in Alberta, dare I say, Canada.   A magnificent stand of Lodgepole Pine has virtually eliminated the view but the original vista can still be imagined by peering through narrow openings in the forest.  There is no doubt we are atop an outstanding lower elevation ridge.  Following a leisurely and gratifying lunch in the sun, Mike and I retreat off the ridge top and back to the Diamond T Loop.  We have already completed about 3/4 of the circuit and continue with another short foray and shallow descent through forest.  Past another gate, the final section is a steeper descent which allows Mike and I the opportunity to practise the Sherpa Step.  Combined with hiking poles, this descent step will help to protect our knees from long term damage.  At the bottom of the hill, we exit forest into open grassland along Hwy 66.  A left turn and a short hike delivers us back to the parking area.

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Leaving the log bench to descend from the viewpoint at ridge top along the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Shallow descent through forest on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Yours truly at the gate to prevent free range cattle from getting into the area on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Mike at the gate on our final descent on the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Diamond T Loop, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Heading back to the trailhead and parking area after a short but  steeper descent on Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Station Flats lies in the shadow of Moose Mountain a short distance west of Allen Bill (Pond) on Hwy 66 past Bragg Creek in Kananaskis Country‘s Elbow Valley.  The area contains a mix of year round multiuse trails with a primary summer time focus on mountain biking trails.  The Moose Mountain area hosts an ever expanding mix of currently more than 80 KM (50 miles) of trail.  Kananaskis Country constructed the majority of original multi-use trails.  New and expanding trail is primarily a product of the Moose Mountain Bike Trail Society and the Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance.  Some of the bike trails are suitable for hiking in spring and fall but are intended for exclusive use of mountain bikers during summer months.  Research and due diligence planning is a good idea prior to enjoying Moose Mountain area trails.

There is still time for further exploration in the area.  Mike and I decide to drive further west on Hwy 66, past Elbow Falls, and over big, rolling hills, for an up-close and personal examination of June 2013 flood damage at Cobble Flats.

Photographs for this post of grandson Michael and yours truly hiking the Diamond T Loop in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada were taken on October 5, 2014.

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Waterfall Valley in Autumn – Calgary – Hiking Alberta

Waterfall Valley is a short, easy, urban hike on the north side of the Bow River in the Bowmont Natural Environment Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Trailhead parking is near the junction of the south end of Silver Springs Blvd NW with 54 Avenue NW.  Consult a map.  It is possible to get confused in Silver Springs.  From the Bowmont Park sign, take the paved path to Bow River Pathway and jog right to the clearly-signed trail entrance into Waterfall ValleyCanada Olympic Park is prominent on the far side of the Bow River valley.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The entrance at Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Click on the image to enlarge for reading, then click on the browser back button to return to the post.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A long lens view of Calgary Olympic Park from trailhead parking for Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The Waterfall Valley trailhead on the Bow River Pathway in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Wooden stairs lead into Waterfall Valley from the top and both sides of the coulee.  Major portions of this short hike, with minimal and gradual elevation, are on boardwalk.  There are small ledges which can cause a trip so, like any trail, it is important to watch where feet are landing.  As the valley narrows, foliage becomes more dense and a spring-fed, babbling brook provides soothing sound to enhance the experience.  The color of surrounding Autumn leaves eliminates all visible evidence of city sprawl.  Large tufa rock formations on the left provide advance notice of imminent arrival at the waterfalls.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Descending the wooden stairs into Waterfall Valley at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A colorful tunnel over the boardwalk into Waterfall Valley at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Dense shrubbery blocks urban presence in Waterfall Valley at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Large tufa rock formations on the approach to waterfalls in Waterfall Valley at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Near the Bow River a short set of stairs lead to a viewing platform just beyond the small but pretty waterfalls.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The first spring-fed waterfall in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The larger spring-fed waterfall in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A steep trail above the viewing platform provides outstanding views over the Bow River and beyond.  It is also a bit of exercise.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The view above the viewing platform at Bow River in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

View from the viewpoint trail above Bow River past Bowness to Canada Olympic Park from Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

View past the railroad bridges to Bowness and Baker Parks and the Stoney Trail bridge from the trail above Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

View across Waterfall Valley from the trail above the viewing platform in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The Bow River east from the trail above the viewing platform in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Descending the steep trail affords excellent views into Waterfall Valley.  When the ground is wet, this section of trail can be very slippery so appropriate footwear is important.  The wooden viewing platform becomes visible at the bottom of Waterfall Valley adjacent to the Bow River.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Hiking the steep descent back to the viewing platform on the Bow River in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Fall color approaching the tufa waterfalls in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Back at the viewing platform stairs in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Tufa waterfalls in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Near the viewing platform, there is a small, easy scramble descent to the outlet of the stream at the shore of the Bow River.  From this location there is an opportunity to photograph the small stream tumbling over rocks.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Outflow from spring-fed tufa waterfalls near the Bow River in Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The small stream from Waterfall Valley into the Bow River at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The small waterfalls in Waterfall Valley at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The view downstream from the waterfalls to the Bow River in Waterfall Valley at Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Return can be accomplished by steeper hiking routes which climb out of the valley, in a variety of more difficult ways, but most people use the obvious return via the boardwalk.  There are many examples of bright fall color along the retreat.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Fall color along the boardwalk on the return hike from Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Fall color along the boardwalk on the return hike from Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Fall color along the boardwalk on the return hike from Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The purple leaves are turning red.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Fall color along the boardwalk on the return hike from Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Fall color along the boardwalk on the return hike from Waterfall Valley in Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Birdhouses punctuate the top of Waterfall Valley and sweeping views over the valley are available with a short walk west along the paved Bow River Pathway.

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Waterfall Valley is an ideal place for a short, easy, urban hike in the outdoors within Calgary when there is insufficient time or resource to head to the mountains.  This hike is ideal for young families and the trail can be navigated with a large-wheeled stroller.  It is an opportunity to introduce little people to nature.  Interpretive plaques provide some history and fascinating fact about the formation and characteristics of the valley.

Pictures for this Autumn hike into Waterfall Valley are taken on September 22, 2014Waterfall Valley is a short, easy, urban hike in Bowmont Natural Environment Park on the north side of the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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