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Biking Adventures: Sheep River Valley in Kananaskis Country

Cycling the Sheep River Valley in Kananaskis Country is an easy day trip from Calgary and a great biking adventure.

It’s only a 45 minute drive to the town of Turner Valley south of Calgary, the starting point for an exceptionally scenic bike ride through to Sheep River Falls.

The bike ride can be done from late April – depending on the year – until the snow flies. In the spring the time to do it is before May 14th – when cars aren’t permitted to drive on the last 18 kilometrs of the road. I was just there last weekend when the valley was ablaze with colour. I think I’d put up with the cars to enjoy the drama of the fall.

"Highway 546"

A section of Highway 546 near Turner Valley

There is free car parking at the Community Hall in Turner Valley just one block from Main Street. To begin the bike ride cycle back to Main Street and turn right onto Sunset Boulevard. Head up through a residential area. At the top of the road just as it curves it becomes Highway 546. There’s a good shoulder on it and we found drivers to be courteous. For the next 13 kilometres enjoy the pastoral scenes – hay fields, horses, cows and cowboys. We even saw a lone moose clearing a barbed wire fence.

"Cowboys in the fields"

Cowboys off in the distance

You reach the Kananaskis Country border after 15.3 kilometres of cycling. There is an immediate and noticeable deterioration in the road surface. But the country gets a touch grander too. At the 20 kilometer mark you arrive at the winter barricade. Here you could park your car if you’re short on time and still enjoy a very pleasant bike ride.

"The view from the Sheep River overlook"

The view from the Sheep River overlook – in late August

"The same Sheep River Valley view 4 weeks later"

The same Sheep River Valley view 4 weeks later

"The cliffs above the river where raptors nest"

The cliffs above the river where raptors nest

"The fall view"

The fall view

"No shortage of cows along the road"

No shortage of cows along the road

The only nasty hill on the whole 76 kilometre ride is the one in the photo below. Fortunately it’s relatively short.

"The only big hills on the bike ride"

The only big hills on the bike ride

At the 35 kilometre mark there is a sign pointing to the Sheep River Falls. Pull in here, get off your bike and explore along the river edge. It’s a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch.

"Sheep River Falls"

Sheep River Falls

"Looking up the Sheep River with the falls in t he foreground"

Another view of Sheep River Falls

If you’re keen to cycle to the end of the road then continue another three kilometres to the Junction Creek Picnic Area. Cycle the loop and then retrace your steps all the way back to Black Valley.

On the return we did one other side trip. There’s a trail across the meadows that leads to the cliffs where you can get a very good view of Bighorn Sheep – if you’re lucky. None were there the day we visited but it still made an interesting side trip. You’ll find the parking lot and trail just a kilometre or two down the road from the Sheep River overlook.

"Reading the info boards about bighorn sheep"

Reading the info boards about bighorn sheep

"Hiking down to the cliffs"

We made one final stop again at the Sheep River overlook to take in the view before continuing back to the car. All told we cycled 76 kilometres and climbed 645 metres (2,116 feet).

"Sheep River Valley Overlook"

Sheep River Valley overlook

Have you enjoyed a biking adventure up the Sheep River Valley in Kananaskis Country?

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Leigh McAdam


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