Heart Creek - Bow Valley Corridor - Hiking Alberta

 

Heart Creek is a popular, easy hike in the Bow Valley west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek is a few kilometers east on the TransCanada Highway from earlier day hikes at Grassi Lakes and Cougar Creek in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. 

The flood-altered creek is wedged between distinctive Heart Mountain and massive Mount McGillivray above the pause Lac des Arcs provides in the Bow River's  journey to Calgary and beyond. 

The Heart Creek trail-head, at the Lac des Arcs exit from the highway, begins the pleasant, short access through forest, east across the base of Heart Mountain, up, over and down a shallow rise to a new sharp right turn heading south along the west bank of Heart Creek.

All the original small bridges over Heart Creek were wiped out and washed downstream by the devastating June 2013 flood.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada The Heart Creek trail-head at Lacs des Arcs in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Pleasant access through lush forest on the Heart Creek trail in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Heart mountain towering over a stand of fireweed on the Heart Creek trail in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada A sharp right turn into Heart Creek at the trail revision on the Heart Creek trail in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Flood recovery crews, assisted by a legion of dedicated, hard-working volunteers, are making consistent and spectacular gains in the restoration of classic hiking trails.

Heart Creek is an easy, relatively level, 3 KM (1⅞ mile) hike, past several bolted and anchored climbing walls, to a roaring, hidden waterfall.  The popularity and easy accessibility made Heart Creek one of the first trails to be restored. 

Previous small picturesque bridges, with handrails have been replaced by half as many longer, sturdy and stable, sawn-log bridges over cascading white water in spectacular flood-damaged and debris laden terrain.

Only a couple of the new bridges have handrails but the crossings are sure and stable.  Exposure is minimal over low water levels.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada New trail heads south to track along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Flood damage and debris are significantly obvious along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada The new route provides access to Quaite Valley Connector and Heart Mountain trail along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada A few interpretive trail markers survive along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.   2, 4 and 8 were discovered without looking very hard.

 

As previously, the new trail wanders back and forth from one side of the creek to the other.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Sawn-log bridges provide creek crossing in fields of rock and flood damage along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada There are more spectacular views of the Heart Mountain summit in more open terrain along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Sturdy logs are easy to cross and periodically unnecessary in the low water creek flow along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Flood damage along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada New trail along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Sturdy log bridge crossings and incredible vistas along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The creek passes many log jams along the short route.  Snippets of original trail are used but most is new to replace trail completely obliterated.  Short sections of original trail are visible along the new route but they quickly disappear into washed out shorelines.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada A log jam along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Flood debris along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada A fancy sawn-log bridge with a hand rail along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Or, here, quite possible to hop over the low water level.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Snippets of old trail with a new, cleaner look along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail winds its way back and forth across Heart Creek through fascinating new features.  The cleft, containing seeps for winter ice climbing, has a more open approach.  Bolted and anchored climbing walls on both the McGillivray and Heart Mountain side seem to be more easily accessible.  Today, they are busy.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Intensely interested to discover if a special memorial bench survived the flood at the end of the canyon.
 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada
 

Another sawn-log bridge over flood-ravaged Heart Creek on the approach to the end of the canyon in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Notice the person belaying in the yellow jacket, supporting a rock climber on the climbing wall at the end of the Heart Creek hike.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Broken trees and landscape scoured smooth at end of the canyon along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Heart Creek flows gently from the dog-leg canyon hosting the audibly obvious, but visually invisible waterfall along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

The memorial bench has survived the vicious flood water, perhaps a little worse for wear, but standing proudly on slightly higher ground guarding the spiritual presence of Leah Michelle Cloutier and enjoy refreshment before returning via the same route. 

Although Leah did not achieve her 17th birthday, she will remain youthfully ageless in the hearts and minds of family and friends who remember her.  Lunch with Leah while watching rock climbers on the opposite walls creates a significant moment.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Leah Michelle Cloutier's bench along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart_Creek__45

 

On the casual return stroll, there is time to appreciate and respect the power of nature.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Huge boulders have been pushed downstream along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Original trail and one of the interpretive markers along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Creek banks have been dramatically altered along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada A short section of the original trail along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada One of the fence sawn-log bridges with a handrail along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

For anyone who is interested, the Heart Creek Interpretive Pamphlet may be accessed online.  Giant wall features along Heart Creek trail are more exposed than previously.  Much of the forest which concealed them has been washed away.  Mountains on the other side of the Bow Valley Corridor begin to appear on the horizon.

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Giant rock wall features along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Late day sun ignites the east forest and mountains appear on the horizon along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Flood damage near the beginning along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada Lots of beautiful wildflowers along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Heart Creek, Bow Valley Corridor, Alberta, Canada The first, and now last sawn-log bridge, along Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 

Several people, who have been here before me, have commented the beauty of this hike has been destroyed.  Certainly it is a different experience but the rugged route has a new beauty and it is worth the time to get out there for a look.

Many old, familiar hikes have been made new and uniquely different by the significant, June 2013, flood event.  The beauty may be in the eye of the beholder.

Photographs for this hike along flood-damaged Heart Creek in the Bow Valley Corridor near Lacs des Arcs west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada were captured on July 29, 2014.

 

Categories: 

Tags: