Hike around a ranch in prairies, why not?

Quick Stats

  • Distance: 11Km Round Trip
  • Height Gain: 265m
  • Round Trip Time: 2h8m
Might as well start here, parking. The parking lot at Glenbow ranch is limited. There are signs warning if you park on the road they will ticket and tow you. So come early, or later in the day, or mid-week like I did.
There are many trails to pick from. Some, like this one, don’t allow bikes. There are also paved paths for bikes and even e-bikes. Glenbow Ranch is a relatively new provincial park, it opened in 2011.
Along the way are interpretive signs that teach you about the local ecology.
These coulees were used by the natives to corral and capture buffalo.
A view of the Alberta Prairie and mountains to the west, as well as a zig-zag bike path that stops most people from going too fast.
There are washrooms in the park. They are surrounded by cattle guards as it is still a working Ranch. Be sure to check the trail report before heading out as they do close trials sometimes due to cattle in the area. There are 25Km of paved paths so even with closures, you should be able to find something.
This is all that remains of the house built by Joseph Cockbaine. Back in 1893 he claimed this land for a solid $10 (very roughly 3K in todays dollars). By law, he had to make “land improvements” within 3 years. He built a house, had 22 head of cattle, 7 horses and 2000 sheep. Which is exactly 2000 more sheep than I have ever had.
In 1903, Canadian Pacific Railway had established a station at Glenbow. The train does pass right through the park, some trails cross the train tracks.
In 1907 a sandstone quarry was opened here, and the blocks harvested were used in the construction of Alberta’s legislative building in Edmonton. The quarry transitioned to manufacturing bricks but then shut down when World War I started. That was the beginning of the end for the Glenbow area, and the last residents moved away in 1927.
The parking lot is near the highest part of the park. That means a bike or hike uphill to finish your day, the exact opposite of climbing a mountain.
View from the top to the West. If you look East from here, you can see downtown Calgary. This Ranch was privately held until 2006 when the family sold it to the Alberta Government for roughly half of its market value on the condition it be preserved for generations to come.


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