One of the best hikes close to Calgary is Big Hill Springs. 30 minutes West of Calgary is my favorite wet hike! Please wear rugged waterproof shoes…and if summer, swim shoes for the kids to play in the water. Early summer brings tons of flowers and exploding springs everywhere! So much fun to listen to the mountain springs rushing and pooling throughout this gentle hike. The diversity is quite amazing in this little pocket of the prairies. It has amazing springs, creeks and brooks…geological deposits and rock formations in the middle of a small wooded valley in the middle of the foothills…quite special.
It is the sound that is amazing…of the rushing water over rocks all around you. Pools here and there to appreciate the perfectly crystal clear water. This area is well visited and I HIGHLY recommend everyone go and see this little slice of heaven, but particularly if you have small children and elderly family members. So many little spots to bring a camp chair and enjoy the nature all around you, as well as some picnic tables and benches. This is a watery playland in the middle of the prairies…like an oasis in the desert…magical. Take 1A West towards Cochrane for 15 mins, then turn right, (north), on #766 for 15 mins to #567, turn left (West) for 5 mins, to the park road on your left. (times approximate, should take no more than 40 minutes from NW Calgary).
One of my favorite attractions at Big Hill Springs are the Tufa mounds…I always appreciate rocks…and these are special. Tufa is limestone that is carbonated from the earth by geothermal springs, forming large porous rocks, in waves…or watery shapes made of stone. Tufa was used by the Romans to build their border walls and early temples, due to it’s enormous strength and versatility to work with and shape. Even more curious is that Tufa is the least understood calcareous landforms on earth, by geological science, and oddly are also found on Mars. Yes Mars… to be exact on the boundary plains, southern region, of circum-Chrysen in the cryosphere…and yes of course I looked that up! You got to check out the Tufa here!
The real treat at Big Hill Springs is the Bugs, Birds and Flowers…so many! The watery oasis creates a perfect micro climate for lots of wildlife. Frankly I would live here too if I could :)…and even in winter when things freeze up…this hike is beautiful. Lots to see at this small Provincial Park. I promise you will be back more than once!