Hiking Elk Island National Park’s Wood Bison Trail

On Sunday, August 20, sixteen WTA members were joined by eleven new hikers from our Hike the Waskahegan Trail Meetup group to hike the 16 km Wood Bison Trail in Elk Island National Park. This lovely trail is less visited than other Elk Island trails because it is a single long loop located by itself on the south side of the Yellowhead Highway.

This part of the park is where the Wood Bison are kept separate from the Plains Bison to avoid interbreeding. The wood bison, as their name suggests, preferred the more wooded norther parts of the province, while the smaller plains bison preferred the open grasslands.

A day with a high temperature of 20 degrees and no rain made for very pleasant hiking with few mosquitoes. We divided up this long hike with two refreshment breaks, one at 5 km and one at 11 km. By prearrangement, one of our 27 hikers turned back at the 5 km point and the rest of us carried on to the end of the 16 km loop. We finished the hike in four and one-half hours, including rest stops, averaging 4.2 km per hour while walking.

We saw some bison, flora and fauna and lots of natural beauty. All-in-all, it was another great day out with fine people, as you can see from the following pictures….

Happy hikers!

 

Bison in the distance.

 

Edible?

 

Still lots of wild flowers.

 

Getting a closer look.

 

Busy bee.

View more pictures on Flickr.

Eagles, Pelicans, and Puffballs at Saunders Lake

Twelve hikers came out for another amazing hike at Saunders lake.
There were a number of pelicans on the lake, as well as lots of ducks and a few hawks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we saw a bald eagle, coming…going…and just sitting on a tree overlooking the lake. (We had seen two eagles there when we scouted on Thursday.) Dustin took this amazing photograph.

Bald Eagle at Saunders lake
Bald Eagle, Courtesy of Dustin

Scott found a massive puffball mushroom. We got all but three left feet in this photo.

Saunders Lake puffball
Saunders Lake puffball, Courtesy of Irene

We saw a few hawks as well, and of course, lots of ducks.
Lunch was in the shade on the road allowance at A33. There was a breeze for most of the hike while the sky remained fairly hazy. Temperature-wise it was quite pleasant.

There are more photos on Flickr

Miquelon Lake Hike

Miquelon Lake Hikers on the path between tall grasses

It was everything you could want in a middle-of-the-summer hike–sun, refreshing breezes, a glistening lake, toads, butterflies, and a flurry of dragonflies that kept the mosquitoes in check.

 

Twenty-three people followed the path out of the park and onto the Waskahegan trail for a 10.5 km hike. We stretched out single file as we walked through the tall-grass meadows and the “islands” of forest that dotted the fields.

 

St. Francis Xavier High School monumentAt the highest point was the St. FX monument, put in by the St. Francis Xavier High School biology students who cleared the trail in 1970.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For lunch, we decided to sit down in the grassy field where we could take advantage of the breeze.

Plants of note were the Indian Pipestem (Monotropa), distinctive for its lack of chorophyll, and a few Indian Paintbrush.

Monotropa
Monotropa
Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush
Painted Lady butterfly
Painted Lady butterfly

We want to give a big thank-you to Trail Maintenance, who made this trail extremely walkable. Also a big shout-out to Brad, who returned to the trail afterwards and cleared a huge spruce tree that had fallen on the path.

You can see more pictures on Flickr.
Miquelon Lake