The Waskahegan Trail is closed until further notice

The Waskahegan Trail is a unique resource that exists only because of the generosity of landowners. Unfortunately, the need for isolation and physical distancing means that the private sections of the trail are closed.
Learn more.

However, we are still encouraged to get outside as long as we follow regulations. As of May 24, we began leading scheduled Sunday hikes on public trails. We also continue to monitor the access of public trails in the region and we're collecting hiking tips.
Check it our here.

Snow Valley to North Saskatchwan River Hike

On May 24, 2020, we had our first group hike since the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nine people came out on the beautiful sunny Sunday morning, prepared to take all the precautions so that we wouldn’t provoke a rebound of the dreaded infection and mess up the government’s stats just as things were getting better.

How wonderful it was to hike with old friends again. Keeping the 2 meter distance wasn’t difficult, even as the trail grew more crowded with other walkers, runners, families with children, and bird watchers. It’s a good thing that we start our hikes so early in the day.

A highlight of the day was observing the baby owl perched high up in the branches, directly over the path. It looked a large ball of fluff.

Owlet

Our hike took us up to the mouth of Whitemud Creek and then left along the river. We could only go so far, as the trail was flooded because the waters were so high from recent rainfall. Here’s what Whitemud Creek looked like:

Lunch was outside the John Janzen Nature Centre, where we spread ourselves out among the many picnic tables.

Thanks to John Scotvold for leading the hike. You can find more photos on Flickr.

Chokecherry

Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana) Shrub grows between 1 and 6 m tall. The leaves are elliptic and pointed at tips, darker above than below, hairless but edges have fine sharp teeth. It blooms in many-flowered, bottlebrush-like clusters at end of branches from May to June.

Fruits are shiny purple to black cherries around 8mm across, ripe in late August. They are edible and can be sweet, but “astringent.” The stones contain hydrocyanic acid and should not be swallowed.

Source: Johnson, Kershaw, MacKinnon, Pojar. Plants of the Western Boreal Forest & Aspen Parkland. Lone Pine Publishing, 1995.

WASKAHEGAN FIELD NOTES

The showy blooms in May accompany us on many Waskahegan trails, in clearings and open forest areas, also on hillsides and dry and exposed locations. Often found alongside High Bush Cranberries and Saskatoons.

Although we are discouraged from picking along the Waskahegan Trail, if you like making jam from wild fruit, Ilona recommends a mixture of Choke Cherry and High Bush Cranberry. After boiling with only a small amount of sugar, you need to pass the fruit through a colander to remove the seeds.

The Waskahegan Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has turned our world upside down in so many ways. Between isolation and physical distancing, we’re all making adjustments. And this includes hiking.

Waskahegan Trail is Closed for Now

Please stay off the Waskahegan Trail until further notice. This puts us in line with the restrictions set out by Alberta Environment and Parks with respect to accessing public lands and recreation areas. Furthermore, staying off of landowners’ property at this time is an act of respect toward the people who are so generous to us in normal times. The last thing we hikers want is to add to their stress and violate their trust.

Until the trail opens again, please stay close to where you are. If you need a little cheer-up, why not relive old times by following us on Instagram? Our handle is @waskahegantrail. Each day we post a picture from our archive of 12,000 photos.

Memberships

As consolation for the trail closure, we have extended everyone’s membership by a year. And until further notice, any newcomers who decide to join now will get a membership extended up to February 2022. Visit the Membership page to join.

Waskahegan Trail Association business

We didn’t hold our Annual General Meeting, but we did produce the reports. You can read what we did in hiking, trail maintenance, permissions, and more right here.