Cochrane Tourism promotes the town as a motorcycle tourism hub

The Cochrane Tourism Association is inflating the tires of motorcycle enthusiasts in a bid to make the town a starting and ending point for road trips, hoping bikers will pump money into local businesses before and after their exit.

The Cochrane Tourism Association is inflating the tires of motorcycle enthusiasts in a bid to make the town a starting and ending point for motorcycle trips, hoping bikers will pump money into local businesses before and after their journeys.

Promoting the appeal of winding country roads surrounded by stunning scenery should be an easy sell to cyclists outside of Cochrane.

Local enthusiasts are already sold.

Craig Oldfield, the Cochranite who founded Ridin’ Alberta – a website to help cyclists discover the Wild Rose province – knows the three round trips recommended on the Cochrane Tourism Association website.

Oldfield’s favorite is the Cochrane to Highwood Pass run, which offers spectacular views from the pass over the 114 kilometer route, featuring the highest paved pass in Canada.

“Beautiful landscapes definitely there, and beautiful winding things. None of these roads are straight, so whenever you’re in these foothills areas and you get these roads randomly, it’s not like those township roads to the east, where you go 50 miles in straight line,” he said.

“Guys always complain that all the roads in Alberta are straight, but not in this section, it’s more fun to drive.”

Oldfield recommends the Highwood Pass trip, describing it as a bucket list activity. By day The Eagle spoke with Oldfield, he was packing for a trip to Highwood Pass in the His Victory Vegas touring bike. His Vegas packs 1700cc into its frame, which he says will provide enough power to handle mountain climbs.

“That’s more horsepower than my mom’s SUV,” he said.

He suggests a trip to Highwood Pass between Monday and Friday if possible, to avoid some of the higher traffic volume that can be found there on weekends.

At this time of year, he said, it’s also a nice evening trip.

“You can leave Cochrane at 5 p.m. and be back home [before dark],” he said.

On the Highland Pass trip, once the tour is complete, riders with park passes can take the detour along Upper Kananaskis Road to the Peter Lougheed Park Discovery and Information Center. This area has abundant wildlife and from the center cyclists can enjoy a picnic at Boulton Bridge.

There are trails that connect the day-use areas, allowing a break for nature walks.

The second trip recommended by Cochrane Tourism is the Cochrane-Water Valley-Bergen-Lochend loop, which takes around two hours to travel without a break. But that’s only if cyclists can resist the urge to “experience rural tranquility and small-town charm along the way.”

The historic Dartique Lodge, built in 1934, is one of the highlights of the Water Valley segment of the trip.

In the Bergen area, riders can visit artist Morton Burke’s Bergen Rocks International Sculpture Park, hosted on his estate. Burke’s outdoor collection of monumental stone sculptures from around the world is one of the few examples of arts tourism in Alberta.

The third trip is called ‘Cochrane to Bragg Creek – Highway 762 – Plummer’s Road – Priddis,‘ which takes around an hour and 10 minutes, making it the perfect non-stop motorcycle road trip for those with less time to spare.

Cyclists with a little more time can take a detour on Highway 66 to the Elbow Falls Recreation Area for a snack and a rest, on a road that offers twists and turns all the way to the end of the sidewalk. Wild horses roam the area from Maclean Creek to the start of Powderface Trail.

If the time is right, astronomy enthusiasts can end a midsummer evening stroll and reflect on the wonders of the universe at the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory in Priddis, during one of the open days of the establishment.

About Derrick Hill

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