Bow River Loop - Bow Valley - Hiking Alberta

 

Hiking the Bow River Loop at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.

 

Bow River Loop, Bow River Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The Many Springs and Middle Lake hikes have consumed the entire first half of the day.  The end of the road in Bow Valley Provincial Park is at Whitefish adjacent to the Bow River with magnificent views of Yamnuska, Goat Mountain, Loder Peak, Door Jamb Mountain and a panorama of more distant views upstream to familiar lofty mountains soaring above Canmore, Alberta.

Picnic tables at Whitefish seem like the ideal place to enjoy lunch in the sun.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Yamnuska across the Bow River from Whitefish at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The view upstream along the Bow River of Door Jamb mountain on photo right, Pigeon Mountain on photo left, and mountains over Canmore in the distance, from Whitefish in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Mount Yamnuska is composed of two distinct geological zones in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.

 

From Whitefish, the Bow River Trail begins at the end of the picnic tables and tracks the shoreline of the Bow River NE past campsites on the right.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The Bow River trail-head beginning from Whitefish in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Magnificent mountain and montane views along the Bow River in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Looking back from Bow River Trail to Whitefish and the mountains upstream in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Most campsites along the Bow River Trail are empty on an early season weekday in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The scenic walk along the Bow River reveals remaining aftermath of the June 2013 major flooding event.  The trail is well worn and stepping over roots adds a bit of exercise on the approximately 2 KM (1¼ mile) hike to the signed trail junction for the Moraine Trail.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Flood damage along Bow River Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Spectacular mountain views and a gentle cool breeze hiking along the Bow River Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The Moraine Trail is a right turn off the Bow River Trail and begins with a short, gentle ascent through the camping area, across the road, and past a gnarly tree near the playground to the trail marker adjacent to the amphitheater.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The Moraine Trail climbs gently away from the Bow River Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Hmmm...There is something about this tree.

 

The Moraine Trail Marker is near the amphitheatre in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada.
 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The amphitheatre along the Moraine Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The steeper climb from the amphitheater to the bench at the top of the moraine is mercifully short.  The reward is expanded by outstanding views and interesting interpretive plaques along the top of the moraine.

Within a very modest elevation gain the nature of the terrain changes dramatically.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada A viewing bench at the top of the moraine provides a welcome rest spot for those who need it at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Prairie Crocii are abundant in the spring at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Views from the top of the exposed, sparsely vegetated moraine are impressive at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Interesting interpretive plaques explain how the moraines were created and their characteristics.  The scenery at this marginally higher elevation is spectacular and a major change in environment within a small change in elevation and topography.

The moraines are one of the features which make Bow Valley Provincial Park a geologically unique and very interesting place definitely worthy of a visit. 

The hike continues, south now, over the pebbled, flat top of the moraine until the trail descends again into forest heading towards Middle Lake.  At the next signed trail intersection the turn right for the Elbow Flats Trail going west will return to Whitefish.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Very interesting plaques on the Moraine Trail bring Calgary into the equation at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Surrounding scenery from the Moraine Trail is spectacular at Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The signed trail junction requires a right turn to take the Elk Flats Trail return to Whitefish in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The relatively level 1.9 KM (1¼ mile) Elk Flats Trail, back to Whitefish, passes through the Elk Flats Picnic Area and past the trail-head for Many Springs before descending gently past the Elk Flats Group Campground to complete the 5.5 KM (3⅜ mile) loop hike from Whitefish.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The Elk Flats Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The Elk Flats Trail passes through a picnic area in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada The Elk Flats Trail hangs a right at the Many Springs Trailhead for some beautiful forest, gentle descent to Whitefish in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The final, short distance from nearby Many Springs trail-head to Whitefish is a gentle descent through lush, green forest.  Spectacular and familiar views across the Bow River explode from the forest on arrival at the Whitefish picnic area.

The washrooms may be a welcome sight.  Whitefish is a great place to relax and popular with fisher people but none are here today.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Elk Flats Trail from Many Springs to Whitefish is a gentle descent through lush, green forest in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Elk Flats Trail from Many Springs to Whitefish is a gentle descent through lush, green forest in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Mount Yamnuska across the Bow River at Whitefish in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Back at Whitefish, the impressive presence of Yamnuska and Goat Mountain command the view across the Bow River.

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Mount Yamnuska across the Bow River at Whitefish in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bow River Trail, Moraine Trail, Elk Flats Trail, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada Goat Mountain across the Bow River at Whitefish in Bow Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

 

This easy loop hike from Whitefish, using the Bow River Trail, the Moraine Trail and the Elk Flats Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park, is ideal for new hikers,  for recently relocated hikers to Calgary, or for families with young children.

The total distance is about 5.5 KM (3⅜ miles) with minimal elevation change.  Pick a sunny, fair weather day.  The reward is a nature experience, good exercise and learning new information about a fascinating and incredibly beautiful area.

Photos for this post were captured in Bow Valley Provincial Park west of Calgary, Alberta on May 12, 2014.

 

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