Big Hills Springs Provincial Park is a unique gem east of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.
From Bass Pro Shop at Cross Iron 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 for those intent on keeping the front end of the vehicle. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.