Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
Distance: 81 km
Estimated time: 4 hours based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr
Elevation Gain: 800 m
Maximum Elevation: 1347 m
Maximum Grade:8.7 % uphill at 58.7 km , 7.8 % downhill at 22.8 km
Best Parking Option: The strip mall at the corner of Hwy 1A and Horse Creek Road in Cochrane or along Horse Creek Road just as you turn north off of Hwy 1A onto Horse Creek Road. Note: Hwy 1A is ofter referred to as Bow Valley Trail on maps. If you park at the strip mall, park well away from the business entrances.
Points of Interest: At ~ 23 km you will cycle past the Dartique Lodge – currently used as a community hall this historic building was constructed in 1934. As of summer 2021 a new metal roof has been installed so the building is being well maintained.
Water Valley has some interesting spots including the General Store (open 7-7 daily and offers ice cream and coffee) and the Water Valley Saloon (popular with the motorcycle crowd but very welcoming of the lycra clad cyclists!).
Amenities: Washrooms at the Water Valley General Store (please support them with a purchase!)
Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist: A long ride!
Intermediate Road Cyclist: A great training ride with some varied terrain.
Expert Road Cyclist: Awesome!!! You can really get going on this ride as there are very few STOP signs and traffic to contend with.
What to expect from this ride
This fantastic route was made possible with the ~2017 paving of a short section of Horse Creek Road that now allows for a ride all the way from Cochrane to Water Valley on paved surfaces. This route has very low motor vehicle traffic and passes by lovely acreages and farm land. The occasional group of motor cyclists will pass you and usually give you lots of room. If you decide to stop for lunch, you may meet up with the motorcyclists at the Water Valley Saloon. There are some nice climbs but none are too long so this makes for a very pleasant cycle and would make a great route if you are planning a group ride with friends.
This area can be subject to winds so be prepared and plan to do this route on calmer days. For most of the route you will be on a variety of pavement surfaces, but generally very good and as of Sept, 2021 pot holes have recently been filled. Most roads have no lines or designated shoulders once you get past Twp Rd 280.