Hello everyone! Back with another fun post about an epic trail walk I did with my friend the other day!
To kick off the adventure we started by parking near the St. Albert library with access to the Red Willow Park trail system directly behind the building, which also connects to the nearby Lion’s Park. You may recognize this area from the amazing outdoor Farmer’s Market that usually takes place on Saturdays right on St. Anne Street or the entire area of green space in the surrounding area during the acclaimed International Children’s Festival of the Arts which takes place every spring for a few days.
Once you’ve filled up your water bottles and hit the trail, keep following south west along the Sturgeon River (where you can also enjoy kayaking or paddle boarding or fishing along multiple access points). You’ll eventually pass under an old wooden bridge just after walking by Lion’s Park (you’ll know your heading in the right direction).
After some time walking through a beautiful forested area, you’ll eventually arrive near Riel Recreation Park and RV camping area and at this point have the opportunity to continue around the park or take the divided trail underneath Ray Gibbon Dr which will bring you directly to Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park.
Once you’ve arrived in the provincial park you’ll find well maintained paved multi-use trails (stroller and wheel chair friendly), a beautiful dock/viewing platform over Big Lake.
Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park also features a beautiful series of interpretive boardwalks courtesy of Ducks Unlimited Canada to enjoy and view the John E. Poole Wetlands featuring accessibility ramps and seats. The bird watching is truly amazing!
If you continue past the long boardwalk, you will then reach the main parking lot area (with immediate access to Ray Gibbon- Anthony Henday trail)/bathrooms/ and trail head access to the rest of the provincial park or to continue into other residential areas/trail systems beyond the provincial park.
This walk ideally requires you to go back the way you came unless you prefer to head home on an alternative route, possibly stopping in the Enjoy Centre for a visit. However, I do suggest just making a loop and heading back the way you came as the surrounding area is near a very busy highway. The entire walk takes between 3-4 hours (approximately 13-15km round trip) depending on your walking pace and if you’re stopping intermittently for breaks or to find Geocaches (and there are a ton of them to find in this area). Alternatively you may choose to ride your bike which may give you fewer Fitbit steps but definitely reduces your trail time by at least half in you find yourself with less time to spare!
All in all this was a fantastic way to spend a sunny afternoon! If you want fewer people on the trails, I suggest avoiding weekends, but even then it’s completely enjoyable. I hope you get out there one of these days and give this route a try!