TRIP REPORT: Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Park

by - Monday, October 06, 2014

You can bike all over Bowmont Park, which I highly recommend, but then you would miss out on Waterfall Valley. This short, but pretty trail has stairs, boardwalk, a spring, small waterfalls, and a great riverside lookout at the end. It's perfect for kids because of all the fun structures (who doesn't love stomping on boardwalks?), short distance (about 1 km return), and mixture of sun and shade so you don't get too hot or cold. There is also an earthcache and geocache along the trail.

Hold on to the railing! (my kids don't listen)
Starting from the parking lot at Silver Springs Boulevard NW and 54 Avenue NW, high on an escarpment, you already have views of Calgary Olympic Park to the south and the Rockies to the west. Go straight on the paved path, take your first right, then turn left into the little valley. Get your kids to hold the handrails on the stairs! Once you're off the bike path, you quickly enter a quiet, private, peaceful place. No bikes are allowed on this trail and dogs must be on leash. This makes it relaxing as much of the rest of the park is an offleash area and my kids were bowled over by excited canines (twice within 2 hours!) as soon as we entered the offleash part of the park. It's hard when the kids are the dogs' height and they're so darn kissable.

Boardwalk Beauties
These trees are beautiful with or without leaves 
My girls ran along the boardwalk and only stopped for photos and to halfheartedly geocache. They have started to love geocaching but they loved the trail even more! The first part of the trail is grass and shrubs, then you enter a treed area. It didn't take us long to get to the tufa falls and lookout. The falls are not visually stunning but geographically interesting. There are interpretive signs along the trail if you would like to learn more about how they formed. Nevertheless, the girls were delighted to reach "the falls" and have a cookie. There is a railing at the lookout, but it doesn't go all the way around as it appears some people access the river from there. The highlight of break time, cookies aside, was seeing a train go across the twin bridges!
The Tufa Falls
The great thing about this trail is that it connects to others, so you can make your hike as long as you like. We ended up hiking another kilometre or so west of the lookout along dirt trails; up a hill, then down to some overflow ponds and the river. If your little one's legs tire of the rolling hills, you can head straight up the hill and walk along the top of the bluff, along the paved path, to your car. This is the option we took as it was getting perilously close to dinner and we'd consumed most of our snacks. The paved path is busier, but offers great views; I'm glad we made a loop.

Leaving one of the two runoff ponds
Waterfall Valley is a great hike for families with new hikers. It's short enough that you can carry your little one if she gets too tired on the way back, but easy to make into a longer hike if things are going well. Try it out and let me know what you think! 

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