For runners who live in Cochrane or are close enough to visit some time, here are 5 key running routes around the town that host some decent mileage, some nice non-asphalt terrain and some great views of the countryside.
1.Glenbow Ranch Long Loop 18km (379m elevation gain)
Mostly soft gravel trail with some grass and asphalt. Quite a lot of elevation change and some steep climbs. Start on the Tiger Lilly Loop from the main car park and then carry on north west using McPherson Trail. After running east with the river a lower loop (only open after May each year) adds another 5km on rolling hills and gravel. The finish incorporates a steep climb.
2.Heartland Railway Trail Loop 6km (29m elevation gain)
A narrow loop either side of the railway tracks on grass and some gravel. Start on the south side of the tracks and run to the turn around point at the steel bridge and return on the north side adjacent to the Heartland development. The softness of the ground all the way makes this a great recovery run route or option for those returning back to running after some time off. (exercise caution when crossing the railway tracks).
3. Red Rock and RancheHouse Link 12km (73m elevation gain)
The signature Cochrane town run on dirt trail and single track using a simple out and back approach. Starting at the RiverFront Park parking lot enables the extended run to be completed without adding a lot of hard surface. The first half is gradually uphill all the way and the return has a lot of slight downhill making this a great training run route in terms of progressive pacing. Some parts of the trail in the trees on the east side of the RancheHouse are technical and require some concentration (only short sections).
4. Carlson Trail Camden Lane Connection 17km (237m elevation gain)
This the highest elevation running route around the town itself with a highest point mid way during each leg at around 1350m. The terrain is a mix of gravel and single track with some minor connecting asphalt. There is a significant uphill climb on the way out and the same on the way back with a downhill finish into the back of the Sunset Ridge development. This route hosts brilliant views of the town on the way back.
5. Towers Trail Out And BACK 21Km (116m elevation gain)
This route is mostly on gravel with some time on asphalt at the half way turn around. There are very easy ways to extend this course to go as far as 30km. Although there is not that much elevation gain overall, there are some noticeable uphills on the way out and some fast downhill sections on the return. This course offers great Jumping Pound Creek views, quiet solitude and quite often some wildlife in the fields. I recommend this route for long run training.
*all route maps and elevation profiles taken from Strava.com.