Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane - Hiking Alberta


Cochrane Ranche is a National Historic Site at Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.



The morning is misty and the drive northwest from Calgary on Crowchild Trail (Hwy 1A) gains altitude into dense fog where cold, moist air has created an amazing display of forest frost.  Range of visibility is less than half a kilometer (0.3 miles).


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Hoar Frost


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


The drive continues a short distance past the day's hiking objective to enjoy breakfast in Cochrane while waiting for fog to dissipate and air to warm.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


Cold weather is taking more time to shift than expected.  The historic town of Cochrane is nestled in a valley about 25 KM (15⅝ miles) northwest of Calgary.  Although fog is gradually lifting and temperature is warming, evidenced by frost dropping gently from the tree branches, patience is required to visit the hiking objective for this day.  This provides time and opportunity to visit the Cochrane Ranche Historic Site on the west side of town near the junction of Hwy 1A with Hwy 22.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


The Cochrane Ranche Historic Site is a National Historic Site maintained and developed to honor the people who settled here and learned, through significant hardship, how to survive and prosper on this northern land.  It took foresight, courage and substantial investment.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


From the parking area on Hwy 1A, a short walk along the creek towards the frosty valley provides the opportunity to ascend a small hill for better views of the surrounding terrain and the town of Cochrane.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


Spectacular views expand on the ascent until one of Cochrane's iconic trademarks appears through the mist in the form of a single horse and rider standing tall at hilltop.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


The bronze statue, called 'Men of Vision', commemorates the hard-working wranglers,  cowboys, and their families who established major, Cochrane area ranching operations in spite of the 1881 and 1882 harsh winters, where large portions of livestock were lost.  This beautiful and historic location begs for a photograph to be taken.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


The Cochrane Ranche Historic Site  hosts an interpretive trail with exhibits which provide historical insight into the area's early days of development.  On the loop descent off the hill, an open area at the bottom contains large descriptive displays near outlines of the original locations for the cowboy's bunk house and the building wranglers called home.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


The Cochrane Ranchehouse is a large, impressive structure, visible from the park but most conveniently accessed from Highway 22.  The structure contains meeting and convention rooms as well as offices for municipal politicians.  Notably, The Cochrane Ranchehouse contains the Bert Sheppard Library and Archives maintained by the Stockmen's Memorial Foundation dedicated to preserving western history and growth.  There is a good-sized parking area and the opportunity to hike from this location further into the valley.


Cochrane Ranche - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada


There is a wide variety of hiking opportunity in the Cochrane area.  The dense morning fog has delayed original plans but other opportunities have been discovered for early and all-season hiking and biking on scenic trails through diverse terrain near the historically significant Bow River

The short drive from Cochrane towards Calgary on Highway 1A arrives at the original location for the planned hiking mission into the recently inaugurated Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.








Thank you for your comment, GW. I am not aware of 'Band of Brothers' being filmed here but anything is possible. There is a lot of this terrain adjacent to the mountains and there is an active film industry in Canada, particularly in Alberta and British Columbia. Cochrane is an important historical centre for ranching in Western Canada.

The photos with the forest frost look great - actually reminded me instantly of some scenes from Band of Brothers for some reason

Thank you for your comment, D. The hoar frost was unexpected and nothing close to the original weather forecast was remotely realized throughout the entire day. The visit to Cochrane Ranche was an unplanned precursor to our hike in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. It is great to see Cochrane maintaining and developing the rich pioneer history of the area.

I so enjoy those brief yet inspiring frosty moments out there... Thank you Barry, for your engaging comments recently. We are just back from some wanderings and I am finding a bit more time for both painting and catching up with friends. That statue is wonderful! I didn't know it was there - but will visit for sure now. D

Yes, this is the foggy day I mentioned on your website. The frost is fleeting, intricate and very special. I no longer do macro work but it would be fascinating, given the patience. Thanks for your comment, Charlie.

Great stuff Barry :) Is this the foggy place you were mentioning? I love the Hoar Frost pictures :) I wish I could capture the frost more often but work gets in the way most of the time. I did manage to get some once when I was in between work one fall. I believe That day, I was wishing I would never find work :)

Hoar frost occurs a few times each winter and it is always a special occasion. Most often it is the luck of being in the right place at the right time when the conditions are perfect. It was very beautiful the morning we were planning to hike in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. The entire day was predominantly overcast and the fog dissiapated very slowly and the day warmed up very gradually. This keeps the frost on the branches and grass longer but every so often there is a time when the fog lifts rapidly and there is a very short time when the fog is gone, the sun is out in full and the frost is still on the trees and bushes. It lasts for only a few minutes, as the frost rapidly falls or evaporates, but it is a photographic paradise and it is a great time to just watch and enjoy the slow motion transition. Magic! Thank you for your comment, Helen.

Wow, what a chilly, amazingly beautiful start to your day!