Iconic Rafter Six Ranch delivered wild west experiences to the world from the Bow Valley.
2018 - Check the status of new ownership and construction at Rafter Six Ranch before visiting.
Continuing along the right branch, at the north end of Stoney Trail, 4.8 KM (3 miles) of hiking later would arrive at the location of an Alberta landmark and historical institution resting in the shadow of Yamnuska.
Taking the left fork from the north end of Stoney Trail would deliver arrive at another historical landmark, the Rocky Mountain YMCA, aka Camp Chief Hector, which has been serving and exerting positive influence on children for many decades.
Following a quick driving tour through Camp Chief Hector, the decision for this day is exploration of the extensions north of Stoney Trail beginning from the east terminus at the infamous Rafter Six Ranch Resort.
The Rafter Six Ranch Resort has roots back to 1930 but the three-story, log lodge was actually completed in 1978.
Note: New ownership in 2017 has removed the three-story, log lodge but retains the provision of horseback adventures. Important to check first.
Since that time the iconic facility has been a focal point for ranch vacations in true western tradition.
Today's hike begins with requesting permission, from the owners, to leave the car parked and access the trail via their property. It is simply the courteous thing to do.
The brief conversation is rewarded with valuable routing information on a multi-generation, family owned, working ranch which is continually being developed and improved.
One of many interesting features on the Rafter Six Ranch Resort property is the Country Church, constructed in 1995.
The rustic wood and stone church, with cathedral ceilings, expansive windows and wood burning fireplace, hosts country weddings, perched above the Kananaskis River with majestic Kananaskis Country mountains as a backdrop.
The hike begins from the central area with a short jaunt east past the white water rafting facility and down the hill past country guest cabins to trail along the Kananaskis River. A young, black and very friendly dog chooses to join my hike.
One of the first picturesque features is the 'old bridge' over a quiet, lagoon-like extension of the Kananaskis River.
In spite of its weathered appearance, the bridge is sufficiently sturdy for crossing to continue along the river bank past Kananaskis River boat and raft launch sites.
Rafting and kayaking are very popular sports here with a mix of river conditions including several impressive stretches of fast, white water.
The riverside trail ends and a steep, slippery, 50 ft (15.2 m) ascent up the river bank leads me to the back of the country church. The trail south is slightly to the west of the church.
From here, this post will jump ahead to the end of the loop hike and the return to the Rafter Six Ranch Resort.
To include the loop adjacent to the Rocky Mountain YMCA and the hike around Whale Lake would double the number of photos.
The Rafter Six Ranch Resort west of Calgary, Alberta is easily accessible from the TransCanada Highway.
As well as providing authentic western food and accommodation, Rafter Six Ranch Resort is a popular location for whitewater rafting, action rodeo, and adventure roping.
The authentic western facility is frequented by corporations for meetings, retreats and conferences.
Combined with the Calgary Stampede, this attraction will be very busy and a welcome daily retreat from the hustle and bustle of Stampede as well as offering convenient access to the magnificent mountain scenery throughout Canmore and Banff National Park. Rafter Six Ranch Resort is nearby.
This has been a wonderful, sunny day of exploration and discovery prior to leaving the Rafter Six Ranch Resort towards the sheer face of Yamnuska for the return drive to Calgary.