Big Hill Springs Provincial Park - Hiking Alberta

 

Big Hills Springs Provincial Park is a unique gem east of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.

 

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

From Bass Pro Shop at CrossIron Mills south of Airdrie the drive west, north and west on Hwy 567 leads to the park entrance.  The short drive south passes tumbling white water through fresh, Spring greenery.  The Texas gate at the entrance requires slow speed.  Time is well-spent to absorb the information about the formation of tufa on the large sign near the trail-head before beginning the hike.

 

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The small parking area is busy for this tiny, very popular park.  Big Hill Springs Provincial Park's small size is packed with unique and beautiful features.  A short distance past the entrance the hike proceeds past a small waterfall near the creek as a prelude to the remains of Old Creamery foundation.  Moderate elevation passes a series of robust, cascading waterfalls.

 

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

Soon, shrubbery around the cascading waterfalls will be dense and spring flowers abundant.  The short sections of shallow stream which separate cascading waterfalls are crystal clear and supporting a host of aquatic plants.

 

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

A bridge crossings leads a short distance off trail to investigate the stream flow adjacent to, and around, the ancient tufa dam created over centuries by mineral deposits within the water flow. 

There is a display board at the entrance which explains the nature of tufa.  At the trail junction where the loop swings left uphill, an alternate choice continues straight along the scenic stream, past the huge boulder glacial erratic for arrival at the ancient slanted tree.

 

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

To continue along the stream would need to breach the park boundary at a barbed wire fence.  Although it would be interesting to visit the source of the water, the correct choice will make the short, steep, uphill hike on one route of braided trail through forest to intersect at the main trail where several teepees embellish nearby forest.

 

Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, CanadaBig Hill Springs Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

 

The remainder of the trail across the top of the hill crosses several shallow draws where water has flowed downhill in the past.  The final descent is on good trail with a couple of short, steep sections.

Back at the parking area, the granite plaques at the memorial tree garden are investigated prior to a brief stop at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park on the way back into Calgary.

Photographs for this post were taken at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park between Airdrie and Cochrane, Alberta on May 2, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

What a delightfully pleasant area to spend with your son.

Thanks for your comment, Helen.  It is always good to hear from you.  Bill and I have shared many significant and spectacular hiking missions in our history over the past 35 years.  This day was a quiet day, civilized stroll in a tiny but beautiful park northwest of Calgary.  It was less about hiking than having the opportunity to spend a bit of time together.  Hope all is well with you in Australia.  I shall be over to visit you soon at  'Walking with Friends Down Under'.  Take care.

I've heard a rumour that somewhere around Big Hill Springs there are canyons. Is this rumour true? If so, do you know how to get there? Love your site, visit it often. Very helpful for a person who wasn't born and raised in the mountains. Cheers

Thank you for your kind words, Sarah.  I am sure there are canyons in the area but I am not specifically aware of their location.  Much of the surrounding land is private.  Access could be an issue.  Perhaps another reader can help.

I love reading your hike guides and refer to them often, my son and I have discovered many new places because of your recommendations. Are there bears at Big Hill Springs? What other wildlife reside in the park?

Big Hill Springs is a tiny park which is heavily used and normally quite busy in prime time.  Perimeters are fenced ranch and farm land.  Anything is possible but I have never heard of a bear siting there and urban incursion would likely encourage the larger animals to find a more secluded place.  You may see birds and the occasional squirrel or chipmunk.  There are interpretive boards at the entrance which will answer your questions.  The tiny, and very busy, little park needs tender loving care.  Leave nothing more than footprints and take away nothing more than photographs of valuable memories.  Thank you for comment and kind words, Ali.

My boyfriend and I are planning to go hiking here this weekend. I was wondering how you would rate the level of intensity for this hike and how long would it take to finish the entire hike.

My rating for this hike would be easy for new hikers.  There is a hill to climb and nooks and crannies to explore.  If running, this hike could be done in half an hour.  If taking the time to pause and appreciate natural features, this outstanding little hike could be drawn out for 2 or 3 hours and become a very memorable experience.  Expect the trail to be very busy on a weekend.  Enjoy.

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