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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Simon

Travel Alberta: Heart Creek Bunker

Updated: May 20

Nestled within the picturesque Bow Valley of Kananaskis, Mountain McGillivray holds a hidden gem - a man-made cave that's perfect for a family adventure.

This relatively short hike, accessible to all ages, leads to a cool, intriguing cave/bunker that's sure to spark curiosity. To reach it, head west from Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway, taking exit 105 towards Lac Des Arcs. Turn left onto Range Road 91A, followed by another left onto Lacs des Arcs Access, and finally, one more left onto Heart Creek Day Use.

The trail to the cave, known as the 'Trans Canada Trail,' is conveniently located on the west side of the parking lot. While the hike is manageable, even with young children (we had five ranging from 1.5 to 8 years old), we learned the hard way that hauling a wagon is more trouble than it's worth. The inclines leading up to the cave made it a strenuous task, and we ended up leaving the wagon behind. A backpack with essentials like water and snacks is a much more practical choice.

Upon reaching the cave, a strong flashlight is a must. The darkness inside can be a little eerie at first, but once you start exploring, the experience becomes incredibly fun. Rumors abound about the cave's origins, with some suggesting it was part of a Cold War-era plan to safeguard important government documents or serve as a bomb shelter. Construction began in 1969, with ambitious plans for self-sufficiency in case of disaster, but the project was never completed. This unique man-made cave offers an exciting day trip for those seeking something different. The experience is definitely worth repeating, and I wholeheartedly recommend adding it to your list of outdoor adventures. Remember to pack water, snacks, bug spray, and a picnic lunch to enjoy afterward, either in the parking lot or at the picnic tables near the water at Lac Des Arcs day use.

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