Flowing Water Interpretive Trail, located in Bow Valley Provincial Park, has boardwalks, stairs, a marsh with beaver dam, and river all packed into a 2.4 km loop. Go in summer for the wildflowers, and camp at nearby Willow Rock campground or Bow Valley Campground! There’s great rafting on the Kananaskis River too!
For more hikes in the area, please see our Bow Valley Provincial Park Camping and Recreation Guide. Since the interpretive trails are short, we often do two in one day.
Flowing Water Interpretive Trail At a Glance
This well marked trail begins at Willow Rock Campground near the shower building. We do the loop in a clockwise direction so we can play at the river near the end of the hike.
- Distance: 2.4 km loop (official hike is 1.4 km, access to trailhead is 1 km return)
- Elevation Gain: n/a
- Time: Allow 1 hour
- Nearest washrooms: Willow Rock Campground
- Stroller friendly? No (narrow trail with stairs)
- Trailhead: Near shower building. The sign says 0.5 km to Flowing Water Trail
Bring extra clothes and towels if you want to play by the river! There is river access just past the interpretive sign about rusty water.
WATER LEVELS FLUCTUATE QUICKLY AND RAPIDLY DUE TO THE DAM UPSTREAM SO KEEP KIDS CLOSE AND DO NOT CROSS THE RIVER.
Since this is a short hike, I highly recommend going for a picnic at Middle Lake after the hike!
Directions: Head west on the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1), until you get to the Exshaw / Bow Valley Provincial Park exit. From Hwy 1x, take your first right into the Willow Rock Campground. The hike is only 78 kilometres (just under an hour) from Calgary!
Parking: Park at Willow Rock Campground (near the showers)
What to Bring
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Good hiking boots, a down hoody or fleece, toque, gloves, and windproof/waterproof shell are recommended year round. Trekking poles are useful for long hikes, steep descents, or when you’re carrying a heavy pack. You should also carry The Ten Essentials including: water, extra food, extra clothes, a first aid kit, headlamp, GPS / compass, and map of the area, sunscreen (this mineral sunscreen is fragrance free, paraben free, and reef-friendly), bug spray (this Deet-free one contains 20% icaridin and will repel ticks), and bear spray. Carry bear spray in a Bear Spray Holster or Scat Griz Bear Spray Running Belt.
A Garmin inReach Mini 2 satellite communicator is highly recommended for contacting Search & Rescue and emergency contacts in the event of an emergency, or communicating with friends and family when you are out of cell phone range. You can send text messages and your GPS coordinates via satellite, but a monthly service plan is required!
In snowy/icy conditions, traction devices such as Kahtoola Microspikes (Available from Amazon, MEC, and Valhalla Pure Outfitters), or Hillsound Trail Crampons (Available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Sport Chek) are recommended. See our Fall Hiking Gear Guide for recommended clothing and gear.
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