Winter weather isn’t always frightful—get outside on a bluebird day for activities the whole family can delight in. Take a casual stroll or hike in a dazzling winter wonderland, and become an expert on our area’s birds. Or, try out a new ice skating rink with your nearest and dearest, followed by an exhilarating afternoon of off-road trails in your 4×4 vehicle. Whatever you choose, you’ll love winter just a little more.
1. Watch for fine feathered friends
Eyes on the sky! Discover local birds while you’re out for a snow-covered walk or drive. Bring your binoculars and watch for fowl at in-town hotspots like Riverfront Park, Jumping Pound Creek, and Mitford Park, or broaden your horizons with a little road trip around the outskirts of Cochrane.
Don’t miss out on a meander down Glendale Road (Township Rd 264A) to look for remarkable birds of prey in Alberta like bald eagles and hawks. In the fields, you may see bobolinks, which are related to blackbirds and nest in fields or meadows. On Horse Creek Road, watch for flocks of snow bunting, which live up to their name with their brilliant white feathers. Look for clusters of coniferous trees and red-breasted nuthatch, or spruce trees to see white-winged crossbills, who love to feast on their seeds.
2. Hike the best local trails
The fun factor is high at Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. Check out Big Hill Springs Trail for a quick and easy half hour hike full of birding opportunities and great views of frozen mini waterfalls.
For a slightly longer hike, Tiger Lily Loop in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park requires about 40 minutes and is a local favourite to see the mighty Bow River framed by the rolling prairies and the town of Cochrane.
For winter enthusiasts eager to get their steps in on a chilly day, the Historic Cochrane Ranche Site also has a plethora of trails in varying lengths, and features western heritage attractions like the museum and reconstructed corral. After your hike, cozy up at one of the outdoor firepits and watch for birds of prey in Alberta who frequent the area.
3. See the backcountry like never before in a 4×4
Spend time in the scenic backcountry without leaving the comfort of your ride. Take a cruise out to Ghost Public Land Use Zone, also called Waiparous Village, to tackle the South Ghost Trail. You’ll find narrow roads with varying elevation and grade changes, and transitions into the valley river bed with stunning surroundings. While this trail is a good opportunity for all driving levels, take your time on steep and icy drop-offs.
For a hub of off-roading trails, drive up to Fallen Timber Campground. Approximately 70 km north of Cochrane on Highway 940, the camp site has numerous marked off-road trails to explore. After, catch your breath next to a roaring outdoor fire and enjoy the peace of winter. Please note – when you head to the backcountry, educate yourself on responsible stewardship and stay on designated trails only so we can enjoy these beautiful lands together by following all the rules and regulations. Keep your wheels out of water – Use bridges and designated water crossings and wash vehicles away from waterbodies to protect fish habitat, water quality and our drinking water.
4. Chill at an outdoor ice skating rink
Lace up for a skate date! Mitford Pond, located on the north bank of the Bow River, makes the perfect ice skating rink to glide in style when the water freezes over. Or if you’re in the East End, stop by the Tim Bannister Memorial Outdoor Rink. Both rinks are accessible for all and host hockey on one end and skating on the other.
Visit the Town of Cochrane website for opening dates, and don’t forget to visit the Central Park ice skating rink in the new year. Pro tip: Bring a thermos to share with your sweetheart after you skate.
Wind up for winter
Blustery, snowy days might conjure images of Netflix marathons, but there’s so much more to do than watch another episode! Layer up, grab your friends and family, and have fun with all Cochrane has to offer. Make new memories with us today.