Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is an educational and nostalgic journey to historical roots.
The Bow River Loop in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park near Cochrane, Alberta, Canada is accessed on foot via a controlled crossing over the frequently busy Canadian Pacific Railway transcontinental rail line.
The Bow River Loop is a figure-eight configuration at south-center of the park between the Canadian Pacific Railway line and the north shore of the winding Bow River.
The east section of the Bow River Loop is 2.5 KMs (1⅝ miles) in length and nearly flat. The gravel path circumvents a large grassland plateau a few feet above the Bow River.
The south side of the path follows along the more forested north shore of the Bow River. Although the views on this early spring day could be described as beautifully bland, spring foliage and fall colors will undoubtedly add character and color to the hike.
There are occasional stands of trees along the river bank and where rippled land allows water to settle long enough for roots to take hold.
On this day, the emerald Bow River is still lined with thick, winter ice which will soon dissipate as the thaw relentlessly continues and summer warmth approaches.
On the other (south) side of the Bow River is the historic Bow River Horse Ranche with its stone barn dating back to 1895. Although this impressive ranch is not part of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, they were important and influential members within the Glenbow Community.
As the easterly section of the Bow River Loop approaches Glenbow Trail, two interesting, interpretive plaques provide information about Glenbow Townsite and the Glenbow Stone Quarry.
From this location there is a good view to the north-east of the old Glenbow Stone Quarry location. Perhaps more important is the fact there are, mercifully, washrooms nearby at the junction of east Bow River Loop with Glenbow Trail.
The 3.0 KM (1⅞ mile) west section of the Bow River Loop is also wedged between the Canadian Pacific Railway line and the north shore of the Bow River.
This land is more animated and, towards the most westerly part, there are river views of formidable cliffs not previously seen from any other vantage point. They are reminiscent of the Banff Hoodoos near Anthracite and the Scarborough Bluffs on the north shore of Lake Ontario.
The cliffs are within Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park where the Bowbend Trail and the railroad line travel above them to the east of Waverley Chimney.
Along the top of the west Bow River Loop an old structure struggles to remain upright. The structure appears to be a livestock loading platform for the rail line.
Cattle have been grazing heavily in this area. The park is a working ranch so footstep navigation must be combined with sightseeing.
Along the top of west Bow River Loop there are several dips. The old Glenbow Store on the other side of the railroad tracks is inaccessible and there is never a good view of more than the top of it.
The entire Bow River Loop from the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park parking area would be a relaxing hike of just over 11.0 KMs (6⅞ miles) with most of the elevation descending and ascending Glenbow Trail.
The Bow River Loop is a gentle walk with excellent river views. The main access to the Bow River Loop is via the single Canadian Pacific Railway controlled crossing.