Monday, August 26, 2013

Ghost Dam to Cochrane

Trip Dates: September 2012 & June 2013

The section of the Bow River between the Ghost Dam and Cochrane has long been a favourite introduction to river canoeing for the students I work with.  It is a relatively straight-forward section of river with lots of eddies and the rapids are quite mellow overall.  Both times that I have participated in this trip we have camped for a night on Wildcat Island.  You can easily do the whole trip in one day, but by breaking the trip into two, it also gives the students some practice with multi-day trips, which happen throughout the summer months.  This way they get to practice canoeing skills as well as learn some important tips and tricks about multi-day tripping.  The following photos are a collection from the two trips I have done here.

The usual paddling route along the Bow River.  A distance of about 22km total.
We have to carry the boats and all of our gear down to the river.  Here you can see Jeff sliding one of the boats down to some waiting hands at the bottom of the hill!
This is our put-in spot along the Bow River
The put-in is immediately downstream from the Ghost Dam
A short time after launching our boats we paddled into an old quarry on river right.  It is a great spot for a break, a quick snack, and of course the ever-popular cliff jumping into the icy water!  It is also worth the time to explore the area above the quarry as there's some small waterfalls and neat, warmer ponds to see and swim in.  Typically there's lots of deer and canine tracks in the area, so it must be a popular spot with the local wildlife as well!

The quarry entrance off the river
The quarry
Perfect spot for some cliff jumping
The area above the quarry.  If you look closely you can even see the Ghost Dam in the distance.
One of the larger ponds above the quarry
A small waterfall
Tyler and Bob looking for a fun way down!
Air Kloe!
Rome fetching the disc
Our boats
We stopped here to pick some Wild Onions, which made an excellent addition to the evening's chili
Wildcat Island Natural Area would be our home for the night
Cooking some Smokies over the fire
The Bow River as seen from the island
Sun setting over our boats
Jeff's paddling partners weren't much help!
This was Kloe's first canoe trip and Rome's second
The scariest part about this trip for me was the fact that less than 24 hours after we'd gotten off the river on my second trip was when southern Alberta got pounded by the devastating floods of 2013.  All of the staff couldn't help but think what would have happened if we had decided to paddle one day later than we actually did.  It's not great to think about, but at least it all worked out for us in the end.  We were safely off the water by the time things got ugly!


  1. Hi there! Is it safe to jump anywhere in th quarry? I jumped a cpl years back but truthfully didn't have a real good look in the water before I did... Anything to watch out for or am I good to go? I loved it last time! Thanks

  2. Hi there, thanks for your comment. As far as I know you should be fine anywhere in the quarry. I've jumped from multiple spots each occasion I've been there and never had any problems. That being said it would be a good idea to check the water as best as you can to ensure something new isn't just below the surface. If I remember correctly the water is pretty clear and you should be able to see part way down from an elevated position. Have fun and be safe!