Paddle: Bow River, Cochrane to Calgary

Quick Summary

Summary: An pleasant easy paddle, 3 hours Distance of trip: aprox 20 km
Set in point: Cochrane
Take out point: Bowness Park
River Grade: I
Rapids: None
Paddleiing partners: Richard, and Melody
Level of experince of group: Novice
Level of experince of the trip author: Novice
Weather Conditions: Cool, Partly cloudy, Rain just as we were taking out.
Trip rating, and some justification of the rating: Good all round novice trip, fairly easy river, a lake, and a protage around Bearspaw dam
Good points / Bad points:
Boat style used: 1 Tandem Canoe (Rich and Mel), 1 sea kayak

Ramble on about the hike

The set in is right under the main bridge in town, just under hwy 22. The water was lively but not fast, it looked clear of rocks, once out from shore. there was a fair bit of fumbling around prior to getting going, bathroom breaks, changing cloths, getting in the kayak, only to have to get out cause I forgot the foot brace. By the time we were heading down stream it was 3:00pm.

The day was beautiful, there seemed to be a bit of rain off in the distance... could be trouble later if it built up and hit us. but for now, the temperature was perfect for paddling, and we were enjoying the warmth of the sun.

The river in town is nice, houses on ones side, with a green space between there back yards and the river. The far side of the river is a steep bank, of maybe 30m, grown in with trees. One side pretty much the edge of town, the other still looked quite wild from the river. Right away we saw the first wild life of the trip, a deer standing on the 'wild' side of the bank. Just standing watching us as we floated buy... he slowly ambled up the bank a bit and dissapeared into the brush.

Looking at the backs of houses, lots look to be the kind of houses I could live in. River in the back yard, the air is nice and fresh. Some day perhaps, today we are just vistors.

It took about 10 minutes to get out of Cochrane, Under a bridge at the edge of town, and then pretty much home free. The houses way up on the ridge to the right are parallel with us. so that is it. The river is pretty much unknown to us from here out. We come past a nice camp/picnic site. Probably on private land, and someones little gett-a-way point. It would make a great spot to stop for a lunch.

The back yards have given way to some kind of plataux, cant really see what is up there, but the odd building and large Tree The river is winding.. 15minutes later we are again parallel Just they are a lot further away now. Soon we are infact out of town and Cochrane is behind us for a second time.

Lots of Geese, ducks, and Cattle hanging out down by the river. The cows would watch us as we floated by. (Yes I was mooing at them) The geese more or less ignored us, they to kept an eye on us, but none flew away. The Left side of the bank is now the High side, as the river has turned to the south. Unlike before the banks are now treeless, the erosion is forming gulleys, and quasi hodoo like formations. pretty neet. To the Right... more cows.

One of the geese have decided he'd better do somthing about us. He is honking, and paddling infront of us. Leading us away from the flock. He must have felt pretty proud of his work, cause we did follow him down stream. Untill finally he made the running start and flew off.

Eventually, the river slows down and widens... a bit of a surprise. We wonder if it is a result of the Bears paw dam. sure enough we come around one more bend and we have flat water. going to have to use the paddles to get any real progress going. We do have a tail wind as we enter the lake. this helps a lot. Wind?? looking back, the rain clouds earlier have indeed grown, and are raining in scattered areas off in the not to far distance. Wind from the storm is helping us out for now though.

As we stayed more or less along the left side of the lake, we got a very nice view of a bald eagle. standing on the edge of the bank. About 10 ft up from the water level, and our position. The sun was out, and basking him in a golden light. Actually made him look pretty majestic. We were about 30 feet from him, when he finally decided he had enough of us, and took off. First swooping down a bit towards the water then gathering enough speed to climb back up and pass over the bank. Very nice to watch.

Paddleing on the lake... admiring the houses on the Right side. I think I'd rather live here over Cochrane... the houses are bigger and nicer, but that's not why. It is the space between them. Must be nice haveing big lots like that runing down to the lake. Still plowing on. Interesting how the weeds grow up from the bottom. Looks like the lake is only 6 inches deep, or like we are floating just over a forest of tall vine like vegitation. I guess that is exactly what we are doing. Only one clump really broke the surface of the water. rest of the they were just at the tip of the paddle below the water.

the lake is pretty long... It would be quite an effort if the wind was in the other direction. I could see why many people do not make this portion of the trip. Eventually we pass all the houses, and the dam is in view in front of us. Pretty neet stuff, but then I'm an electrical engineer, so I'm slightly biased. We beach, and follow the portage roots down. Perhaps a 200m Portage. the dam is not a real big one. first time I've seen it since living in Calgary.

The next leg of the trip is very nice. It is good to have the towering banks up on the left again, and even high banks on the right. Nice to be off the lake and in the current again. The semi remote feeling does not last long. Soon we are passing people out for walks, passing golf cources. Up ahead is the big ass bridge stoney trail runs over. Once again I'm very impressed with the bridges, always more so when going under them rather than over. A family waves from the pedestrian walway suspended under the same bridge.

Finally it starts to rain a bit, that's okay, we are just coming to the take out. It today it was a very nice trip.

I ended up leaving my car at the set in location. next day when I went back to get it. Looking at the river, it was obvious it was much lower than it had previously been. close to a meter lower. (there are depth markings on the brige piller). I wonder what the trip would be like in the lower water levels.


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1. Carol James (08/15/2013 18:41:19)  
Bow river paddle

What date did this paddle occur???

Answer: It was long enough ago, that I'm not sure. I believe it was 2005, based on the copyright notice at the bottom, which seems about right, it would have been before the 2005 flood.

If you are thinking of it, the reason it is probably not so popular is there is a significant portage around the dam.

Given the recent flood (2013), the river likely changed quite a bit, there may be new hazards, Diving out of Cochrane, it looked like there was a significant standing wave on one branch of the river just down stream of Cochrane. It was far away from me though not sure what it was, and I was driving home not scouting the river.

Major concern would be log jams, sweepers and strainers due to the flood. Consider contacting the bow waters canoe club to see if they know of the stretch. But like I said it never seemed to be used a lot.

Copyright Myrl Tanton 2003-2005


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