Glenbow Ranch - Cochrane - Hiking Alberta

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park borders the Bow River between Calgary and Cochrane, Alberta

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The Government of Alberta acquired 3,246 acres of ranch land from the Harvie Family northwest of Calgary in August of 2006 to be developed as the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.   Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park opened on August 9, 2011.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The entrance to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is south on Glenbow Road from Hwy 1A (Crowchild Trail) on 3 KM (1⅞ miles) of scenic, gravel road heading south through private land, and terminating at a large, well-signed parking area surrounded by tall Alberta prairie grass.  The hike finally begins following the fog induced delay spent productively at Cochrane Ranche.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

A short walk past old farm buildings leads to the Park Office where there are exhibits of historical significance.  A map is available on the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park website, or can be purchased at the Park Office for a nominal fee which also supports further development and maintenance at the park. 

Voluntary contributions are gratefully received.  A park representative is in attendance daily to answer questions and provide advice during the summer but only on Saturday and Sunday in the off-season.  Check ahead.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

 

The hike begins with gradual descent on paved path called Glenbow Trail, past the last lingering frost on trees in a sheltered cove, to the trail junction where a branch left ascends to viewpoints on the high, south side of the Yodel Loop.  At major trail junctions there are large maps of the park which show current location.  Navigation is clear and easy.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The first viewpoint looks south from a ridge top over expansive grassland to the Bow River and the river valley beyond.  A focal point is the old Glenbow Store, stubbornly standing beside the ruins of the old brick factory.

 

 

Glenbow Ranch, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The old Glenbow Store is adjacent to the Canadian Pacific Railway transcontinental rail line which runs through the park.  Today the rail line is busy as several trains thunder through during this 3 hour hike in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

 

Surrounding hills hosted the homes of wealthy cattle ranchers.  One of the hills above the coulee was called Millionaire Hill for Chester Rhoades de la Vergne who moved here from New York City in 1908 to establish a successful sheep and horse ranch.

 

 
 

Glenbow Ranch, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The hike east across the top of the ridge on the Yodel Loop reveals spectacular views to the coulee on the left and the river valley to the right.  The rich earth colors of early spring are striking.  Soon, arrival at the second viewpoint overlooks the Corrals.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The descent off the ridge from the Yodel Loop Trail intersects with the Scott Trail before turning south to the Corrals, then proceeds west on the Glenbow Trail where interpretive plaques explain the history of the Corrals.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

A half kilometer further west on the Glenbow Trail, remnants of an old industrial complex and foundations which were once part of the Glenbow Valley Brick Plant reside near the old Glenbow Store.  A short spur trail leads directly to close views of the old Glenbow Store.  A long freight train rumbling past lends ambiance to these building skeletons which were once the heart of a thriving community in days long gone.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 
 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

Further west, arrival at a trail-side, frozen pond separates the intersection of the Tiger Lily Loop Trail and Badger Bowl Trails with Glenbow Trail.  These trails will be passed by in favor of continuing west along the Bowbend Trail where another passing freight train creates realistic surroundings. 

As a young boy, growing up in Central Ontario, there was a busy rail line directly behind our home and I would run to wave to the engineers of the massive, smokey coal-fired engines.  The engineers always waved back, as they do today, from diesel-electric powered locomotives, and I fondly reflect on those joyous times, decades ago, when men in charge of large, thundering machines gave a moment of their time to acknowledge the presence of a small boy's wonder.

A trail side interpretive exhibit explains the process of soil erosion which creates the staircase slopes on nearby hill sides.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The Bowbend Trail leads to Waverley Chimney where another interpretive plaque documents the history of early settlers.  The Bowbend Trail turns sharply north on paved cycle/ hiking trail for the switchback ascent to a right turn onto Bowl Link which tops out at a viewpoint called Windmill Lookout.  From here there are expansive views of the Bow River Valley to Cochrane and well beyond to the Rocky Mountains.

 

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

At the Windmill Lookout, with expansive views over the park, an interpretive plaque explains the area's geology and the Bighill Creek Formation.  We learn mammoths roamed this land 13,000 years ago.  Camels and ancient horses lived here as well. A large herd of cattle are returning home in a long uphill line on the descent southeast through picturesque hills on the Badger Bowl Trail.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

After descending the Badger Bowl Trail, the ascent on the west side of the Tiger Lily Loop Trail begins through typical grassland before leading into leafless forest which has provided sufficient shelter to keep a bit snow and ice on the trail.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaGlenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

About halfway up the hill, a glance to the left reveals 'old artifacts' scattered in the forest and am therefore compelled to root around in the forest above the trail to see what can be discovered, before exhibiting elevated common sense by continuing the ascent to the Lookout at the top of Tiger Lily Loop.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

From the top of Tiger Lily Loop there are expansive views across Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park to the south over the Bow River, and west towards Cochrane and the Rocky Mountains which are buried in haze and accumulating cloud cover.

 

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park - Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

Time is taken to prepare a short video of the sweeping view from Tiger Lily Loop.

 


 

Click here to enjoy a panoramic view across Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park near Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 


 

The video sweeps first to the south from the Lookout above Tiger Lily Loop, then pans to the northeast over Cochrane, Alberta.  The camera microphones pick up the slight breeze and the video is jerky as a result of being wedged between two fences where the backpack gets stuck during the rotation.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is austere but different and impressive.  The park is an easy day of hiking for a broad range of age and physical capability.  Hikers can do as little or as much as they choose.  There are several picnic locations and the provincial park is a gold mine of educational opportunity for inquisitive minds. 

Hiking on this day consumes about 12 KM (7½ miles) and gross elevation for the day, accumulated in small increments ascending and descending small hills is estimated to be about 457 m (1,500 ft).  There is a lot of trail to hike another day, mainly to the east on the Glenbow Trail past Glenbow Village and The Narrows, and adjacent to the Bow River on the figure-eight Bow River Loop.

Some of the trail in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is bicycle friendly but there are restrictions and bicycle racks are frequently visible at trail intersections where travel by bicycle is prohibited.  A plan would be wise. 

Eventually the Bearspaw Trail will provide a complete link between Calgary and Cochrane.

Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is operated and managed by the Fish Creek District of Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Thank you for this great trail. We followed your exact directions and were not disappointed at all! Weather was great today. Blue sky and 20 degrees. I think your blog is really the Alberta hiking bible! Great job!

Nice article. Makes me want to go. I like that you photograph the official information signs, so we get that story as well as your commentary. Thanks.

I do not have specific, personal knowledge about snowshoeing and cross county skiing at Glenbow Ranch but the terrain would be excellent. I cannot see any reason this would be a problem but I would check with Glenbow in the interest of courtesy and advice. Perhaps other readers can shed some light here. You can contact Glenbow Ranch through their website at <a href="http://www.albertaparks.ca/glenbow-ranch/information-facilities.aspx" title="Glenbow Ranch - Alberta Parks" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Alberta Parks</a>.

Great information Barry, I am assuming these trails would be great for snow shoeing as well? With the snow we've seem, we are thinking of venturing out near Calgary .

Thanks for your comment and endorsement of this land I love. The low sun in Alberta skies creates phenomenal light for unique and colourful photographic opportunities. Hiking in the Alberta Badlands is somewhat similar to hiking in the American Southwest. I will check out your post.

Amazing pix. We are just back from a big road trip through Canadian Badlands of southern Alberta. It was our first road trip through these parts at this time of year. Colour of prairie grasses on hills for some reason remind me of a horse's winter coat- thicker than summer months. Alberta light is truly extraordinary. Every time we travel we think that. Just an awesome destination for photogs and other artists. Would love to hike this area. Abandoned timber house reminds me of the Dahl Homestead which we photographed between little hamlet of Sedalia and Cereal in Alberta's Special Areas. Scroll down to the end of http://roadstories.ca/cemetery-stories/ and you'll find.

Thank you for clarification, Tara.

Hi Rod, I know how you feel. As a horse person myself, it's hard to look across the Park and not imagine how great a horse experience it would be. But the Government of Alberta has decided to not allow horse back riding in the Park. Tara McFadden Public Engagement Glenbow Park Ranch Foundation

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leash and picked up after as usual. I believe you will enjoy your time in this park, Leigh. It is a reasonably short commute from Calgary. The left turn off Hwy 1A is a bit of a challenge which will correct when the construction is completed and a left turn south on Glenbow Road is from a currently non-existent left turn lane. It requires a bit of care. If you overshoot you can turn around and head back. The right turn heading from Cochrane towards Calgary is more easily and safely negotiated. Have fun. Thanks for your comment, Leigh.

Sounds like a place I need to check out on my next available weekend. You have some lovely pictures Barry. Do you know if dogs are allowed???

Thank you, Andra. I share your feelings. Glenbow Ranch has a magnetic quality about it. It is very uncharacteristic for me to revisit a place. I like to move on and see new things but I too have returned and soon I will publish my second post on Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park near Cochrane, Alberta. I am really looking forward to the completion of the <strong>Bearspaw Trail</strong> link between <strong>Calgary</strong> and <strong>Cochrane</strong>. Pamela from the <strong>Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation</strong> has enlightened us on the status of the project which hopefully will be completed within the next year or two. That is going to be a great full day ride along the Bow River back and forth. I appreciate your kind words and I will visit your writing at <strong>'Making Waves' </strong>soon to catch up on your adventures. The last time I checked in, you were swimming through deep snow at the top of Prairie Mountain.

I can't get enough of this place! Friday was my third time there and I still haven't covered the whole area. I will be back for a fourth time, and probably a fifth and so on! Your blog post about the Ranch is wonderful!

No argument from me, Leslie. Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park has a very good 'feel' to it. It has wonderful family stroll quality and, Leslie, me thinks there is some good trail running to be done here. When the Calgary - Cochrane cycle pathway is completed, it will be one sweet and spectacular ride. I am very excited about developments in Cochrane and Canmore which are bringing important and dramatic historical content to light. I returned to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park on a subsequent day to discover more fabulous scenery and fascinating history. There will be a post of that day coming soon. Thanks for your comment, Leslie. It is always good to hear from you and I look forward to sharing your adventures on your weblog.

I love, love, LOVE this Barry! It's quintessential Alberta scenery and history.

I do not know the policy regarding horseback riding in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park at Cochrane. In my own experience, which I write about in my posts on Cracker Lake, and Grinnell Valley, Glacier National Park, Montana, I am opposed to people on foot sharing trails with horses. It is something to be taken up with Glenbow Ranch Park Administration. If a plebiscite were held to permit horses access to existing trails used by people, I would vote No. Interestingly, tiny Big Hill Springs Provincial Park does allow horse traffic although I find it difficult to believe anyone would bother when there are such outstanding equestrian facilities and trails within easy reach in Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park. I understand the history of the area had a lot to do with horses but I believe this park has great potential as an urban recreation area of major historical significance. I believe the addition of horseback riding may inhibit the potential of the park and provide enjoyment for a few at the expense of many. Thank you for your comment, Rod. Sorry I cannot be more supportive. If the trails are segregated, it would make more sense to me. Rhetorically, would horseback riders carry a shovel and a horsie bag? Are there, with current knowledge, ecological issues relative to the Bow River when dealing with such a small area?

Is horseback riding allowed in the park? Given the history of this rural area, would it not be appropriate to allow equestrian day use of the area? Thank you for your response. Rod Cochrane area resident

Thank you for your kind words. Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is an excellent mix of scenery, fresh air, exercise and history. The interpretive plaques are interesting and well done. They bring the fascinating history of the area to life. Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park between Calgary and Cochrane is an excellent place to maintain a fitness or walking program for a broad range of people of all ages and fitness levels. I returned the following weekend to hike the east side of the park past the quarry and the Bow River Loop. I will post the pictures and text for the additional day within the next few weeks. Overall, I was impressed with Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park and after hiking many of the most beautiful sites in North America, I am not easily impressed. The park seemed very comfortable to me and I have plans to return in the spring to experience colour infused onto the grasslands. I expect it will be spectacular. I am very pleased Cochrane is providing an opportunity to learn more about the contribution colourful, dedicated and hard working pioneer personalities made to the construction of Canada. Calgary has wisely made a huge investment in their pathwys and I am confident they will follow through on a link to Bearspaw Trail. It will be a fantastic ride between Cochrane and Calgary.

We're glad that you enjoyed your hike of the park, Barry. What a lovely write up! To answer your question, there is not yet a completed trail all the way from Cochrane to Calgary. We are dependant on the City of Calgary to link through Haskayne Park.

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