Biking in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

A little while ago (ok – maybe a few weeks ago!), hubby & I decided to check out the new Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.  I’d heard there was some great bike paths in the park and it sounded pretty cool to go bike through the grasses of the foothills.  As the park is pretty new here’s some info on it:

Where the @#%&^* is the park?

Prairie views

From Calgary the best way to get to the park is to go north on Crowchild and keep following it as it turns into Bow Valley Trail.  Continue down Bow Valley Trail and turn left onto Glenbow Road.  There are no signs indicating that the park is at this turnoff.  They’re also doing construction in the area so you almost can’t tell that there’s a turnoff.  Follow Glenbow Rd south until you hit the paved parking lot for the park.  Hopefully they’ll put up signs soon because right now you really need to know where you’re going to find this park!

Landscape

Neat looking clouds

If you’ve ever driven from Calgary out to the mountains you’ll pass through the rolling foothills.  This is exactly the type of terrain you’ll see in the park.  There’s lots of rolling, grassy hills and patches of trees.  The park also passes along the Bow River and one of the CP rail lines cuts through the park.  It’s pretty neat to see the trains up close.  There also seems to be a lot of restricted areas which are “subject to fines up to a maximum of $5000”.  There are quite a few paths but I’d be hesitant to go off-trail unless I was sure it was ok.  Overall the landscape is just beautiful; it’s the classic Alberta ranch lands that overlook the rocky mountains.  There are also a few remnants of historic buildings.

Biking paths

Prairie grasses with some of the hills in the background. Now if only there were a few cliffs in the back :)

The paths in the park are a mixture of “there and back” style trails and loops that are either paved or gravel.  There are no single tracks in the park right now but it would be awesome if they added some. The gravel paths are well maintained though some of them have signage indicating you can’t bike on them.  The park is also very hilly – I guess that would make sense given that it’s in the foothills!  I didn’t find any of the hills to be terribly challenging (I’ve seen worse in Fish Creek and Nose Hill) but it’s the frequency that can be tiring (lots of gearing up/down).  The park is used by cattle at times so gates and fences are also found on some of the trails.  The gates were a little annoying because you have to stand your bike up on the rear wheel to get it through.  Overall I really enjoyed biking through park and taking in the scenery.  I also felt like I got a pretty good workout in with all the hills and the amount of paths available.

Thoughts

Views along the Bow River

The park has beautiful prairie views with the mountains in the background but as a destination for biking, there isn’t enough available for a full day.  It would be great for a morning or after work bike.  I’d love to see more trail development (especially single track) but the park is quite new so it may just be that they haven’t had time yet.  At some point there should be a path connecting it to Bearspaw Dam in Calgary.

Park websites

AB Parks website
Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation website

More prairie views

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