Note: as of July 23, 2021 the Big Hill Springs park is still closed. I believe this may be temporary due to Covid…fingers crossed. Another development is that there is an active wellsite on Lochend Road as of July 23 which means that there is significantly more truck traffic on Lochend Road. I cycled part of Lochend Road ~7pm on a Tuesday evening recently and there was very heavy traffic. For this reason, use caution on this route for the next few weeks or choose another route for now.
Ride Difficulty Rating – Beginner
Distance – 44.2 Km out and back
Estimated cycling time – 2.5 hours
Elevation Gain – 472 m
Peak Elevation – 1309 m
Maximum Grade – Uphill 5.4% at km 20, Descent 5.7% at km 25
Best Parking Option
Take HWY 1A towards Cochrane, turn right (north) off HWY 1A at Bearspaw Road, then make an immediate right onto Nagway Rd. Take the first left onto Hamilton Dr, then left onto Sigurdson Bay, park at the end of the road. Do not block any driveways.
Alternatively, park anywhere along Nagway Rd. It is not recommended to park at the Bearspaw Lions Hall parking lot, as it is private property. There is a Sunday Farmers Market at the Bearspaw Lions Hall so parking may be limited in the area when the market is open.
Points of Interest
At 9.3 km, when you turn north onto Lochend Road you will notice that it has been recently paved, with line markers and a narrow 2 foot shoulder. An improvement which will allow for a super smooth cycling surface.
The west bound section along Hwy 579 on the way out from Lochend Road to the Big Hill Springs Trail is an example of Alberta country side with beautiful rolling hills, mountain vistas and farms dotted with working oil pump jacks.
Your destination is Big Hill Springs Provincial Park! There is a small spring here that makes for a nice spot to stop and picnic.
Mainly smooth asphalt although there are some patches of rough pavement and patches of loose gravel. Shoulder width varies from 1 to 4 feet, with painted lines and chip seal. Use caution as this route has medium traffic volumes even on weekdays with some large trucks on Lochend Road and Hwy 567. Also the first few km’s of this route can have heavy traffic volumes on Sunday mornings due to the Farmers Markets and on weekday evenings when the acreage owners are rushing home from work 4-6 pm.
Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Too many hills and the traffic scared me.’
Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘This was a good morning ride. Keep alert due to variable pavement and shoulder widths.’
Expert Road Cyclist – ‘Very easy ride good for early season training.’
What to expect on this ride
This quick ride is suitable for a morning or early afternoon that takes you through the rolling hills of the Bearspaw area with a destination stop at the Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. Expect fun descents and uphill sections dotted with acreage properties where farms once hailed.
Traffic volumes are usually light on this ride except for the first few km’s and again when you turn north onto Lochend Road (AB-766) where traffic volumes sometimes pick up and there may be some large trucks. Use caution and ride single file. I have a love-hate relationship with this ride…if traffic volumes are low, it is a wonderful ride, the opposite being true when there are large trucks on the road. Lochend Road was recently paved so a smooth cycle.
Beware the multiple sets of rumble strips as you approach the stop sign at the Lochend Rd and AB-567 intersection. Use extreme caution at this intersection. Take a moment to look around when riding the west bound section along the AB-567 just before you turn south onto Big Hill Springs Trail. There you will view the Alberta countryside with beautiful rolling hills, mountain vistas to the west and farms dotted with working oil pump jacks.
Big Hill Springs Trail is a delightful 2 km of smooth pavement with very, very low traffic volumes. There are two cattle gates to cross just prior to entering the park so be prepared to dismount and walk your bike carefully across. Once in the park the road and parking lot are gravel however at the time of writing this review, Alberta Parks is upgrading the parking area (Summer 2020). Park amenities are outhouses and picnic tables . Enjoy a short rest before heading back on this out and back route.
This is a great early season ride close to the city. Be aware of traffic and use caution at all intersections especially when turning onto Big Hill Springs Trail and ride single file. Strong winds can be experienced in this area.