Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Distance: 42.7 km
Estimated time: About 2 hours based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr
Elevation Gain: 298 m
Maximum Elevation: 1355 m
Maximum Grade: 4.7 % uphill and -3.7% downhill
Best Parking Option:
Travelling west on Hwy 1A , leave the Calgary city limits and continue until you are past the town of Cochrane, turn north on to Horse Creek Road. Just as you turn north off of Hwy 1A, park in a safe spot along the road.
Alternatively, park in the strip mall at the corner of Hwy 1A and Horse Creek Road. Do not park near the businesses.
Points of Interest:
Travelling north up the Grand Valley Road you will pass by many working ranches.
There are no amenities along the route. Stop in Cochrane prior or after the ride if you require a pit stop.
Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist: A great distance for a beginner but the initial short section along Hwy 1A may be uncomfortable for some riders.
Intermediate Road Cyclist: A good ride with low traffic levels. A front end loaded ride, all the work is at the beginning and then it is cruising.
Expert Road Cyclist: A good short training ride for a weekday evening. Motor vehicle traffic is polite, farm traffic.
What to expect from this ride
This ride is a great training ride for more advanced cyclists and a good beginner ride for those that don’t mind a short busy section heading west along Hwy 1A.
After parking along Horse Creek Road, head west on Hwy 1A for a short section of narrow, rough shoulders and wind. Ride single file. For beginner cyclist this is a good introduction to Hwy travel as this is a short section ~ 5km with minimal grades. We often just grin and bear it…
Heading north on the Grand Valley Road is a treat of gentle uphill grades through rolling farmland on very low volume traffic roads. We were once stopped on this route for a cattle drive which is a wonderful Alberta experience. The road surface is chip seal so makes for a bit of a rough ride and is why we recommend doing this circle route in a clockwise direction.
After turning east off the Grand Valley Road onto Township Rd 280 the pavement is newer and smoother asphalt. You will likely have the wind at your back so you can pick up speed on this relatively flat section.
Head south back down along Range Road 50 and enjoy the lovely gentle downhill with a few twists and turns. We have often had this road to ourselves, not a car in sight. Just follow the pavement all the way back. You know you are getting close to your starting point when you pass by some lovely acreage homes. Watch out for the steep grade over the last couple of hundred meters of this ride as you descend back to your vehicle.
Note: When we last did this route in late Summer 2020 there was a detour about 1 km from the end of this ride. It was tough to navigate, but doable. Just keep heading down hill at every opportunity until you get back to your parking spot.