Bunchberry Meadows Conservancy

Eleven people came out to hike on a cold and clear day, rather uncommon for March. Against a deep blue sky, the sun, now higher and brighter than at any time all this winter, cast a glowing light as it poured through the trees and lit up the pristine snow.

In the wintertime, Bunchberry Meadows is noted for its large forest of birch, including many very old trees, and the larch groves.

We had a magical moment when a large jackrabbit sat motionless off to the side and watched us while we walked by.

Other animals seen on this day were white-tail deer, here and there on the trail. And when Carissa scouted the trail earlier in the week she saw a Northern Shrike and heard a Grey Owl.

Back at the parking lot, there were chickadees and nuthatches hanging around some bird feeders. Carissa informed us that these feeders will be taken down. Well-meaning visitors had been going too far, placing pans of bird seed on the forest trails.

Such is the struggle between people’s soft spot for animals, and the need to leave the area as natural as possible for the wildlife.

If you visit Bunchberry Meadows, be aware that the sign is low-profile and easy to miss. Unless you know the road well, you’re likely to pass right by and eventually turn around once you figure it out. As a result, only eight of us arrived at the agreed-on time. The rest arrived later but still did the complete hike.

At the end of the hike, all eleven of us joined up at the picnic tables, which had been cleared earlier in the morning by Lee. By this time, the sun was warm enough so that we could eat our lunch without gloves.

Thanks to Carissa for scouting and leading the hike. You can find all our photos on Flickr.

Patricia Heights Ravine to Fort Edmonton

Eight people came out for a beautiful day of hiking through the Patricia Heights ravine to Fort Edmonton Park and beyond.

Awesome sunshine at the edge of the North Saskatchewan River Valley

The ravine is quiet and deep. It has sloping sections that are steep and prone to be icy, especially after a few freeze-thaw cycles like we have had recently. We prepared ourselves by wearing decent grips on our boots and carrying hiking poles. In the end, the only ice was on the few city streets.

Patricia Heights Ravine in North Saskatchewan River Valley

After crossing the magnificent footbridge, we walked past Fort Edmonton, where renovation is still going on. It looks like they’re putting up a new large building at the entrance.

Our lunch was in the warmth of the Alfred Savage Centre.

There are many things to like about this river valley hike. One of them is that you can do almost all of it in a loop. There’s very little visiting the same section twice–like these stairs.

Stairs out of the North Saskatchewan River Valley

Thanks to Lee for scouting and leading this hike. You can find more photos on Flickr.

Ice and Snow: Whitemud Park to Hawrelak Park

Eight people came out to hike along the North Saskatchewan River into Hawrelak Park. We started from the parking lot at Whitemud Park in softly falling snow. Crossing the Quesnel bridge into Laurier Park, we continued on past joggers, dogs, and fat-bike riders.

We reached Hawrelak Park, where the Silver Skate Festival has been on for the past week.

The ice castle looked well preserved in spite of the swings in weather.

The snow sculptures where amazing as always, like this shaggy rabbit.

A new attraction this year was the helicopter. For $80 per person, you and up to two friends could have a lot of fun flying over the city and getting some spectacular views.

On the walk back to Whitemud, we followed the south bank. The sun broke through the clouds, warming up the day.

There’s a new development on these trails—the city has installed some wide lookouts on the trail. In this photo, the house you see in the clearing across the river is Yorath House, the historical residence situated next to the Edmonton Rowing Club.

One of the expansive new lookouts on the bank of the North Saskatchewan

Thanks to Lee for leading this hike. You can find more photos on Flickr.