This little gem of a recreation area, less than an hour west of Edmonton, is actually a chain of small lakes intersected by a series of well-travelled trails. There are about 11 kilometres of routes to explore, with some decent elevation gains in some areas.
Chickakoo has a day use area with fire pits and a small playground. Dogs are allowed (on leash), as are horse riders, so you just might make an equine friend.
This is one of those “I-can’t-believe-I’m-in-the-middle-of-a-city-of-one-million-people” trails. It follows the Whitemud Creek as it flows into the North Saskatchewan River, not far southwest of Edmonton’s downtown. It’s an out-and-back trail of about six kilometres, starting either from the Snow Valley Ski Club or from the northern end in front of the Alfred H. Savage Centre.
You have the option of continuing south from the ski club, a stretch that is particularly appealing in winter when you can get down onto the frozen creek and follow its winding path. Dogs allowed on leash.
Located 33 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, just across the highway from the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary protects 348 acres of marshland, open meadow, aspen parkland and pine forest. Extensive boardwalks get you up close to the marshlands and lookouts get you right out into the lakes.
Excellent for birding and wildlife viewing. Dogs allowed on leash.
Just south of Sherwood Park, Deermound Off-leash Park features almost five kilometres of trails that wind across a wide open plain and through the woods at the southern end. It can get busy, so make sure everyone in your party is comfortable having a lot of off-leash dogs around.
This 97-square-kilometre, well-forested park has four access points so you can come at it from a few different directions. The 170 kilometres of trails (many of them open to horseback riding) pass through forests and wetlands and by a number of lakes and ponds.
It’s a 45-minute drive east of Edmonton, just south of Elk Island National Park. Hunting is allowed in the park, with the recreational hunting season running from the beginning of September to the end of December. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays, so if you’d rather not hear the reports of firearms, that might be your day.