The Waskahegan Trail is a unique resource that exists only because of the generosity of landowners. Before you set foot on the trail, know the landowner rights and the trail user responsibilities.
Prickly Rose (Rosa acicularis), the floral emblem of Alberta, is one of three wild rose species that grow in our region. The common or thorny wild rose (Rosa woodsii) and the dwarf prairie rose (Rosa akansana), found mainly in the Waterton Park area, are the other two. In our region, the three species may grow together and sometimes interbreed.
Two distinguishing features of the prickly rose are: single rather than clustered flowers, and spiny stems throughout (i.e. prickly). The Rosa woodsii has fewer thorns and they occur at the nodes (Johnson et al. 58, Gadd 277).
Flowers, Leaves and Fruit
When the prickly rose blooms in late spring we see and smell the typical fragrance of the pink five-petalled flowers. A special treat is seeing half-open buds and fully-open roses all gracing the same stem. Fully-open roses show a deep pink petal that is almost white at the center, where a cluster of yellow stamens attracts insects.
The toothed leaves grow in bunches of seven or nine, remain green until late fall when scarlet pear-shaped or fully round and fleshy fruit—the rose hips—start to form. Rose hips stay all winter and can provide important survival food for wildlife.
- Johnson, D., Kershaw, L., MacKinnon, A. and Pojar, J. Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parkland
- Gadd, Ben. Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
Bunchberry Meadows is a piece of land just west of the city, surrounded by expensive acreages. Originally, the land was owned by five families. Over the years they developed it into a private wilderness area for their own recreation. With sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and obviously a lot of hard work, they put in a network of easy trails.
Nineteen people came out to hike this treasure, led by botanist Jerry Shaw.
Up and down hills defined by ancient sand dunes, we passed through old growth birch forests, a stand of huge, unique pines that we couldn’t identify, and an alley of larches. In the open areas, we walked past meadows and strolled on berms overlooking wetlands.
After an 8 km loop, we arrived back at the parking lot, and ate our lunch at the row of picnic tables, in the sun.
You can see more photos on Flickr.
The forecast mentioned possible freezing rain. After some debate, we deemed the risk of getting caught on the highways to be not worth it. Anyways, we had a good backup plan—a trail in the Edmonton River Valley that we particularly like. And from Century Park, it’s an easy drive to the parking lot at Terwillegar Park.
After a brief section in the woods, we emerged at the Terwillegar Footbridge. We crossed the river and proceeded to the Fort Edmonton footbridge to come back to the other side.
On the trail back down to the parking lot we passed the famous yarn-bombed trees, which got us talking about knitting.
It was a great day after all.
There are more photos on Flickr.