This is the year we didn’t hike (much). Conditions were partly to blame, suffering heat in the summer and all that lung-clogging smoke from forest fires across the west lasting for weeks on end. Both are Kryptonite to us. Then there was gigs – many, many, that all seemed to show up on weekends, the time we usually set aside for outdoor endeavours. Lastly, transient health issues, pesky ones, keeping us away from the hills for extended periods and at other times forcing us to stick to the easy stuff in the few instances where we did manage to don our hiking boots.
Seems everything was conspiring to keep us from doing what we love. Hope and pray 2018 will be better. Much better. I think it will be. This here post is one of those short outings mentioned. In your best Seinfeld…”not that there’s anything wrong with that”.
Anyway, here’s a short sweet hike, about as close to Calgary as one can get and still have a wilderness experience. We’re at Brown Lowery Provincial Park a tiny square of forested land, surrounded by farms and ranches, in the rolling hills southwest of town. We take in a number of trails in the park making a nice loop of it, that we think you’ll enjoy too.
Brown Lowery can be found between Highways #22 and #762 along Plummer’s Road and is not far from Millarville. It’s on land donated by an oil and gas firm, Home Oil, and is named for their founders. There’s a good number of trails in the park and all junctions are marked with maps. Most of time you’ll keep to the trees (mostly spruce), but one trail offers up a good viewpoint of peaks to the west. Use our route and you’ll take it in.
From the parking area drop down, cross over a boardwalk and hit the trees. At a junction fairly early in, take the east leg of the “Wildrose Loop”. The going is easy in this low lying boggy area. Bridges take you over the wettest stuff. At another junction, it’s a hard left into the “Old Mill Loop”, so named for a sawmill that once operated in the area.
Stroll along on what appears to be an old road and soon on, come to a dilapidated cabin. Near falling down, it’s said to be connected to that lumber operation that operated here a century ago. Doubt the walls will stand much longer. Continuing on the Old Mill Loop, enter a clearing which is where the sawmill was said to operate. Back in the trees, there’s a second cabin off to the left. You have to look for it. Not much left here though.
Moving along, the going easy and pleasant. At another junction hit the “Pine Hill Trail”, once an old seismic line from the oil and gas days, and turn right. Drop down a bit before heading up a small treed hill. Other junctions are passed – ignore them. Topping out the trail bends north. You’re now on the “Lookout Trail”. At a break in the trees, head west to a fine viewpoint. All those peaks of in the distance, rolling hills and pastures, damn that’s nice! There’s a bench here. Take it in.
This section of trail was busy – earlier in the day we seemingly had the park to ourselves. I guess most just come for the view.
Continue on through tall grasses and aspens groves. One can get the occasional glimpse of Calgary off to the Northeast, where the trees thin a bit. Soon on, drop down into a spruce forest and at yet another junction take the west leg of the “Wildrose Loop” and soon after hit the parking lot. Wow it sure got busier – we were one of a couple cars when we started – now there’s a dozen or more.
There’s a bear living in Brown Lowery and area. We saw lots of signs, fresh diggings, scratchings, poop, all unmistakable stuff. Seems there’s been lots of first hand sightings too, by hikers – don’t believe it’s ever caused trouble though. Besides Yogi, you might see deer, moose, elk, lynx and cougar here. Wow! Small park, big wildlife possibilities.
Brown Lowery, according to Alberta Parks, is also popular with “birders, wildflower enthusiasts and mushroom fanciers”. Saw lots of the former and lots of the latter this outing.
There you go, a nice little hike. Hope you enjoyed as we did. This one can be done all year.
If you wish more information about this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: October, 2017.
Location: Near Millarville AB.
Distance: 7km loop.
Height gain maximum: 120m-ish.
Height gain cumulative: 240m-ish.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.
Technical bits, warnings and notes: Not a one.