Landowner Rights & Trail User Responsibilities

The Waskahegan Trail is a unique resource that exists only because of the generosity of landowners. Before you set foot on the trail:

  1. Know the landowner rights and the trail user responsibilities.
  2. Check the trail conditions

Laurier Park to Hawrelak Park Hike

Twelve people came out to hike Edmonton’s River Valley from Laurier Park to Hawrelak Park. This is a traditional hike for us at this time of year, because the Silver Skate Festival is on at the same time.

We started our hike by crossing the Quesnel Bridge and walking along the right bank through Laurier Park side.

Bald eagle

We soon came upon a rare site—a bald eagle perched high on a poplar branch, facing the river. Just once, he turned to look at us.

At Hawrelak Park, it was warm enough to have our lunch at the picnic tables outside the pavilion. Then we toured the ice sculptures, which were fascinating and innovative as always.

For the return, we decided it was too icy to take the path down along the river. Instead, we climbed the stairs up to Groat Road, and connected to Saskatchewan Drive. We walked along the top of the river valley and turned down at Keillor Road.

Thanks to Lee for scouting and leading the hike, to the Silver Skate Festival organizers for their dedication, and to the ice sculpturists for their beautiful art and imagination. You can see all the photos on Flickr.

See were we are going next.

WTA brings refreshment and cheer to the Birkebeiner

What an auspicious start, we thought, as we watched the bald eagle flying low over the parking lot.

It was Race Day at the Blackfoot Recreation Day, and the event was the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival. The Waskahegan Trail Association has volunteered in the festival ever since its inception.

And for us, this year’s Birkie was especially sweet.

At the volunteer orientation a few days before, the Waskahegan Trail Association, and our long-time member and volunteer Oscar Zawalsky in particular, were recognized by the Canadian Birkebeiner Society for providing 34 consecutive years of food station service. (We think it’s been 38 years, so maybe they omitted the years that the festival was cancelled.)

Anyway, no other group or individual can make that claim.

Oscar was given a framed print of a section of trail in the Blackfoot Recreation Area. The print was made by local artist Brian Lucas, who three years ago had won the award for the skier “who best represents the spirit of the Birkebeiner.”

Race day was great for our group of eight volunteers—mild weather, almost no wind, and intermittent sunshine. But for the skiers, not quite so great. The track was rather icy, but still not as much as we’ve seen in some years.

Our “Last Chance” food station saw 237 participants in the 13 km event, most of whom stopped for the snacks and beverages we provided. Our food station is at the halfway point for these skiers and it is their only option for a break. Since the skiers invariably seem to come all at once, there was a while when we were all going full tilt!

A big change for our crew this year was dealing with only the one race segment, as the course was significantly altered on the 31 km route, bypassing Meadow Shelter. Although this resulted in a much shorter day, our team will welcome resuming our usual double-duty efforts next year.

The Waskahegan volunteers typically do a great job and have an enjoyable day. This year was no exception. You can find all the photos on Flickr. Thank you, crew!