Nice winter or shoulder season hike along the Bow River.

Quick Stats

  • Distance: 12.3Km
  • Height Gain: 259m
  • Round Trip Time: 3h
  • Resources: Gillean Daffern’s Kananaskis Trail Guide
Just minutes after leaving the parking lot you are greeted with this view of the Kananaskis Dam. Originally built in 1913, but has been upgraded a couple times. This dam generates over 93,000 megawatts per year. Due to dam operation, the water levels can fluctuate. Stay away from the river near the bottom of the dam for safety’s sake.
The trail carries on along the river with a couple small hills along the way but nothing arduous.
Further down the river, we stopped at a viewpoint to watch the chunks of ice float by. I assume the cliffs on the other side are used for cliff jumping in the summer.
The next stop is the picnic area just before the horseshoe dam. The guidebook says the picnic tables are a bit wobbly and won’t last much longer. It would seem the guidebook was correct.
Due to the next dam downstream, the river is wider here. This portion of the Bow River used to have two very large waterfalls. The construction of these dams destroyed both falls.
The Horseshoe Dam built originally in 1911. According to the guidebook, most people find this a great place to turn around and head back. But we decided to carry on down the river.
Near the end of the trail are these class IV rapids. This was where parts of the 1954 movie staring Marilyn Monroe, River of no Return, was filmed.
End of the trail. From here, you can return the way you came or follow a trail up the hill to make a return loop. We elected for the loop for a change of scenery.
We found an abandoned ATV along the way. It didn’t look too old but was definitely missing a few parts.
The return journey followed this wide trail until the Horseshoe dam where it meets up with the river trail again. This trail was the same one used by the original settlers heading west by wagon. On the plus side, they didn’t have to worry about their ATV breaking down.


Awesome Ted · April 17, 2022 at 8:43 pm

Looks like a lazy-nice-day hike for mom and I … thanks for describing.

Chris · April 18, 2022 at 1:25 am

Gloria and Rebecca , loved u comments. Are u both drinking red wine without me. Happy Easter everyone.

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