Waskahegan Trail (Alberta, Canada)

DISTANCE (round-trip)

192 mi (309 km)

DIFFICULTY

TIME

14 days

SOLITUDE

A Wild Prairie Loop Just Outside of Edmonton

Celebrating its half century anniversary in 2017, this 309 km epic trail will take you through Eastern and Southern Alberta’s peaceful and wild grassland, rolling meadows, streams and lakes. 

It is hidden in plain sight and loops around the city of Edmonton - sometimes less than an hour from the capital - but it feels tranquil and unspoiled. Some of the most picturesque spots along the way include the Ministik Lake Bird Sanctuary, Cooking Lake, Miquelon Lake Provincial Park and Fort Saskatchewan.

This trail is unique in that the route mostly passes through privately owned land and is maintained by dedicated volunteers. As it passes through farmland as well as the wilderness of Elk Island National Park, you are just as likely to encounter livestock as wildlife.

When to go

Tackling the trail during the autumn months will provide spectacular visuals of red, yellow and orange foliage. Avoid early springtime as some trail sections will be boggy. In the summer temperatures will be warm and you will be able to pick berries along the route. 

Getting there

This trail begins near the Blackfoot Lake Staging Area, which is located in Sherwood Park off Highway 16.

Know before you go

  • To complete the entire trail would take up to two weeks, but there are many smaller chunks you can hike.
  • The Waskahegan Trail Association offers free guided weekend hikes, check out their website for more info. 
  • Animals you might spot along the route include woodchuck, Richardson’s ground squirrels, badgers, white tailed deer, bison and elk.

For more information:

Public Domain Image - Saunders Lake Section of the trail

Public Domain Image - University of Alberta can be seen in the distance.

Gear Recommendations for this trail:

  • Bring binoculars for bird spotting on the rolling Alberta parkland, especially if you plan to hike through the Ministik Bird Sanctuary.
About the author

Kelly Dunning

Kelly Dunning is a Canadian freelance writer and digital nomad with a love of hiking, nature, art, culture, literature and adventure. She and her English boyfriend Lee run Global-Goose.com, a site packed full with travel guides, stories and inspiration for those who dream of travel.