I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Cochrane Ranch Park's Trailhead Area
Cochrane, Alberta is a neat town that's located about 15 minutes to the west of Calgary. The town slogan is "How the West is Now," a slogan that I've often interpreted to be a pun on the old phrase "How the West was Won."
This is a cowboy town and central to it is a historic ranch that acts as the trailhead area for a respectable but perhaps skippable trail network. I have visited this network a couple of times, including in mid-September of 2021. I have mixed feelings about the area but do think it's worth a short visit.
Firstly, the parking lot and trailhead area are absolutely huge. I've only been to this ranch during the COVID years and I've never seen it operating at full capacity. Accordingly, when I have gone there has been a ton of space. I've wondered how busy it might get at peak times.
If you enjoy reading informational placards while you hike or walk trails, then there are some at the main entrance. Personally, I do read a lot of placards at parks and the main one in the Cochrane Ranch parking lot said that this ranch was a dismal business failure back in the late 1880s.
In the following video, I show you the trailhead area. If you pause the video, then you will be able to read what the placard says and get a good view of the map or the area.
Cochrane Ranch Park's Main Trailhead
Cochrane Ranch Has Some Elevation
The trails at the historical Cochrane Ranch are very average. There is some elevation for those that want to burn some calories. It was also nice that there was a human-made staircase as the natural slope was wet when I visited.
However, many points on the trail are either close to major roadways or are close to residences. I would prefer to get away from it all for a little while when I go trail hiking and don't appreciate trails in too-urban of a setting.
The following videos will give you an idea of what to expect at this park. There is a mixed grassland and forested setting here. In the back, the hills are grassy and a little tough for leisure walking.
Personally, I really like the statue of the cowboy as an iconic symbol of the old west. I'm sure his statue with the sun setting in the background would make for an interesting and amazing photo for someone who wants a picture of the Albertan 'Old West.'
Cochrane Ranch Scenery
What to Expect in This Trail Network
There is a point in the park near the parking lot that's great for someone that wants some quick elevation. It only took me about 17 minutes to get from the parking lot to this high point for a distance that was less than 1km and an elevation gain of just 49m (stats are according to my smartwatch). If I wasn't stopping to make videos, then I easily could have ascended this hill in 15 minutes or less at a walking pace.
Clearly, this is an easy-to-moderate park at the front end. If you go to the backend of the park, then you can expect increased elevation challenges and a more natural setting. You could spend 2–3 hours in this park making a loop if you desired. Furthermore, the park connects to other trails in the Cochrane area. The following photo shows me on one of the trails in the area north of the ranch.
Overall, I think this park is pretty basic. The best spot for trail hikers in Cochrane is spent at the nearby Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. That's about two minutes to the east of Cochrane toward Calgary and only about five minutes away from the Cochrane Ranch. Of course, the Rocky Mountains are to the west but be aware that the trails over that way are often paid trails (ie. pass required to use the park).
Cochrane Ranch Park's Cowboy Statue
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Shane Lambert