Here’s a nice little walk in a small town setting. You can’t beat that. It makes an easy loop around much of High River, passing all manner of interesting places and things to see along the way. There’s wooded groves near the Highwood River, lonely stretches along an irrigation canal, busy commercial strips, residential streets – lots of variety. Most of it’s along a designated pathways (known officially as “Happy Trails”), although you’ll have to take to the street in places, every now and then. Not a bad stroll.
Since it’s a loop you can start anywhere along the route and be assured you’ll be back when you started when done. We picked a quiet side street to park in the southwest quadrant. Seemed good as any. If you follow our route to the letter, make way to 12th Ave and turn left (east). This means you’ll do the loop in an anti-clockwise fashion. Nothing’s stopping you from doing it the other way – although then our description will make little sense…and you don’t want that. Best follow what we did.
One one side of twelfth is houses, on the opposite farmers fields stretching off as far as one can see. Look backwards, and if it’s not cloudy or socked in, see the Rockies in the west. Pass some big Cottonwood Trees, cross a couple roads that lead into downtown, and between them, the former railway right of way. Pass the Hitching Post Drive-Inn. Well worth a stop there for a burger and milkshake – but it’s only open in the summer.
The next section takes one past many retail outlets and businesses and a good number of car dealerships. Well truck dealerships…this is Alberta after all. $90k plus, for a pickup? Really? I’m mean…honest to God…really?
Soon after cross a canal – you’ll get to know it better later – and turn left onto 14th Street, entering a residential neighbourhood. Hoof it north till you come to 9th Avenue, hard right and almost immediately hard left on 15th Street. Enter Sunshine Lake Park. It’s a man-made body of water frozen on our visit. Turn left, come to the canal (‘member it?) and turn right. To the left look out over Emerson Lake. Also frozen.
Wander alongside the canal – it’ll be paralleled for a time – at the very edge of town. Farmer’s fields to the right. Pass, all on the left, Lana Lang’s House (seen in Superman 3) behind a marsh, an RV storage yard (Haha, the “Shagging Wagon”), and a number of trailer parks. Thoughts of Ricky…Raveen…Mr Lahey…Cyrus…come on, we can’t help it. I bet these places hate the Sunnyvale comparisons!
Pass a sewage treatment plant – ewwwwww, stinkytown! Come to the edge of downtown core where the canal ends (actually begins, you’ve been heading upstream). Cross at the lights and double back to the pathway beside the river. Where’d the train bridge go? I’m sure it was there last time. To know more about its history prior to it being torn down recently, under concerns it would be a problem should the river flood again, click this link: Bridge Hunting – High River Alberta.
Continue on in a westerly direction atop a large flood mitigation berm (floods, an ongoing problem here in High River. A campground/park is to your left. Come to some wooded flats next to the river. This area makes a good picnic stop. Find a fallen tree to make a bench and chow down. We did. Some cold ones hit the spot.
Back on the berm. Heading west and now well away from the river, it takes on more the appearance of a wall. Chuckle…thinking of you Donald! If another deluge of water happens – not a matter of if, but when – it’s supposed keep the town dry. Those devastating floods of 2013, which saw a lot of homes wiped out in the community and many lives ruined, inspired its construction. There was nothing here before to stop the rising waters.
Meandering atop the “Trump Wall” (aren’t we clever), follow it as trends left. To the right, down there in the trees, is a neighbourhood now cut off from town. The fine looking homes there are in fact empty and will soon be gone. They’re on a flood plain, sustaining damage in 2013, and seemingly doomed to repeat it again next time the water’s high, forcing the the province to say no more. They bought out the owners, told them to leave, and put the houses up for auction, the stipulation, they be moved out on winning a bid. When done, the road and foundations will be bulldozed, the land reverting back to nature.
We made a visit to the now silent neighbourhood, Beachwood Estates, to document these fine houses before they’re gone (not shown on the route). Expect a report on them in a month or two. It was fascinating to walk down the empty streets and see all those homes devoid of life. Odd, they still looked lived in! Strange sensation, my friends, down right eerie. Shadows of Omega Man. Mutants…RUN! Up and over the wall to safety.
Continuing on there’s a small stone house to your left in a park area, an outdoor hockey rink in behind. This is an old farm dwelling now inside town. Despite an exhaustive search and many phone calls, we couldn’t find anyone who knew anything much about it. Odd. We rarely come up empty. It’s a quaint little building though and always gets attention from our cameras when we walk these “Happy Trails”.
Drop down off the wall, hit 12th Avenue and turn left. In a few minutes come back to where you started. All that work, and here you are, back to where it began! For nothing! Last time we listen to you guys…
Side trip: if time permits check out High River’s historic downtown. It’s worth it.
If you wish more information about this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: February, 2017.
Location: High River, AB.
Height gain maximum: Negligible.
Height gain cumulative: Negligible.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.