The best Edmonton area hikes

October 28, 2016

by Theresa Tesolin

Edmonton is one of the greenest cities in North America with its numerous parks and River Valley trails. Discover the best trails, scenic spots and hidden secrets as you hike and explore YEG. [Image credit:]

The best Edmonton area hikes

Edmonton’s River Valley is a natural gem, with over 160 km of interconnected and maintained trails woven throughout the city and along the North Saskatchewan River. There are myriad multi-use paths of varying lengths and difficulty levels. Put on your hiking or running shoes and come connect with nature.

Remember to bring plenty of water and hike with a friend. Check out the City of Edmonton’s River Valley trail maps here.

Quintessentially Edmonton: North Saskatchewan River Loop Trail

Difficulty Level: Easy, kid and dog-friendly (leashed), around 5.1 km.

With a variety of paved and dirt paths connected throughout the north and south sides of the river, you’ll get some of the best views of the city here. This is an enjoyable stroll that’ll show you views of the downtown skyline and the North Saskatchewan River blending together both cityscape and nature. Take a breather on one of the many benches facing the riverside.

A Local Favourite: Terwillegar Park

Difficulty Level: Moderate, kid-friendly, off-leash dog park.

Terwillegar Park is one of the largest off-leash dog parks in Edmonton. The varied trails and up-close-and-personal views of the river make it a prime location to hit the trails by bike or foot along with a furry friend. There are many trails to explore here and you’ll likely see a few dogs frolicking in the river when the weather is warm.

A Challenging and Scenic Route: Buena Vista Park Riverside Hike

Difficulty Level: Hard, around 10.6 km.

Not to be confused with other easier trails in Buena Vista Park, the Riverside Hike requires a bit of perseverance (not to mention proper hiking boots), but you’ll be rewarded by the panoramic river views and sights of some of Edmonton’s nicest homes. Expect a few exposed tree roots and steep inclines. Starting at Government House Park, you’ll pass through Buena Vista Park, McKinnon Ravine (the challenging part) and through a foot bridge.

Good for Kids: Janzen Nature Trails

Difficulty Level: Easy, 4 km.

Park at Fort Edmonton and John Janzen Nature Centre’s adjoining parking lot. Start at the pond behind the Nature Centre to catch a glimpse of frogs or ducks. With interpretive signs dotted throughout the trails, there are two paths: the Birch Tree Trail (1 km) or the River Loop Trail (3 km). The trails are mostly flat and meander through trees where you can catch glimpses of birds along the river bank.

Edmonton’s Most Popular Park: William Hawrelak Park Riverside Trail

Difficulty Level: Moderate, around 5.3 km, kid and dog-friendly.

With 68 hectares of park area in the River Valley, Hawrelak Park is a popular place year-round. There’s plenty of picnic sites and parking, a lake that doubles as a skating rink in winter and well-groomed trails for hiking and biking. Explore the Riverside Trail, which takes you around the river to Emily Murphy Park. A great walk in the fall to see the colourful foliage. Park at picnic site #2 to access trails.

Edmonton’s Gem: Mill Creek Ravine Park

Difficulty Level: Easy, off-leash dog park, kid-friendly.

Mill Creek Ravine is a gem of Edmonton’s south with more than 10 km of trails to explore in the park. The sounds of the bubbling ravine together with the canopied paths rejuvenate your spirit. Take a camera to capture the beautiful ponds at sunset or sunrise. Pssst – this is a good place to pick Saskatoon berries if you’re in the mood to wader off the beaten path.

One of the best parts of Edmonton is the River Valley trails with its ambling paths and scenic views. Nature is just a few minutes away wherever you happen to be. Happy trails!

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