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Elk Island National Park Trails Near Edmonton

I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.

Part of the Wood Bison Trail in Elk Island National Park.

Part of the Wood Bison Trail in Elk Island National Park.

Elk Island National Park Preview

Elk Island National Park is accessible via the Yellowhead Highway, about 30-40 minutes to the east of Edmonton, Alberta. The park is near the small town of Ardrossan but options for accommodations will be limited there. If you have Elk Island National Park as your focal point for a trip, then the best accommodations options will likely be in Sherwood Park or east Edmonton.

As a national park, Elk Island will require having a national parks pass. The most noted feature of the park is that there are free-roaming bison. These can often be seen from the Yellowhead Highway or the road that goes through the park. If you are looking for signs of danger from bison, then it's an upward tail or kicking its back legs in the dirt. I hiked two trails in the park in the summer of 2020, the short Amisk Wuche Trail and the lengthy Wood Bison Trail

There is a lake and large beach central to this park. However, when I went there was some kind of green and murky substance in the water. I'm not sure if this was algae or something else, however, the water definitely did not appear to be safe for swimming. Those heading to the park with the lake in mind should look up warnings or advisories before heading out to this beach. There is a lot of pavement-trail walking in the area around the lake and main beach.

Home page for Elk Island National Park

  • Elk Island National Park
    Be it for wildlife viewing, hiking, cross-country skiing, picnicking or overnight camping, there is something for everyone at Elk Island National Park.

Amisk Wuche Trail Preview

The Amisk Wuche Trail, at the trailhead sign, was described as a trail that could take up to three hours. In reality, this is a short trail that most people will be able to do in less than one hour. Furthermore, the trail was easy, there were only ever slight inclines, and that created a leisurely experience.

If you are looking for an easy trail that is more of a pleasant nature walk than an arduous hike, then the Amisk Wuche Trail is a good pick for you. The following video is meant to help orient you to the trailhead area.

Amisk Wuche Trailhead Video in Elk Island National Park

Amisk Wuche Trailhead in Elk Island National Park

Wood Bison Trail Preview

The Wood Bison Trail wasn't a great trail, in my opinion. This one took over five hours for me to walk. I think for a lot of other hikers, it would take between 3.5 hours and four hours since my walking speed is below average.

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Most of the park attractions are to the north of the Yellowhead Highway, however, this trail is on the south side of the Yellowhead Highway close to the gates for the park. It's not really visible from the highway as you drive by.

The trail was pretty flat with only minor elevation changes occurring occasionally. There was a lake central to parts of the trail, one that appeared to be pretty rough the day that I visited it. I did not see any opportunities for swimming.

As a lengthy 16-kilometer trail, I had an expectation that I would encounter some bison. I did only see one, a loner that was off in the forest across a meadow. It was a disappointing experience for wildlife viewing.

I used this trail in August of 2020. While the weather was agreeable the day I hiked the trail, it appeared to have been raining in the days prior. There were large areas of mud and puddles that had to be walked around. These wet conditions were part of the reason that I did not really like this trail (see the videos below). Additionally, I found that the trail was narrow at a lot of points. Lastly, I did not really enjoy the viewpoints, none of which created lasting memories.

Wood Bison Trailhead in Elk Island National Park

Wood Bison Trail

Wood Bison Trailhead in Elk Island National Park


Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on August 15, 2021:

Thanks for sharing your experience on these trails. I love hiking. I've been doing it since I was a kid.

I did a little hiking around Revelstoke in BC, where a friend lives but in Alberta I only visited a few campgrounds while driving through the mountains and did no hiking. Most of my hiking is in Ontario since I live here but I do plan on doing some hiking in Yukon and Northwest Territories sooner than later. The Canol Trail is there: 350km. That's the prize : )

All the best!

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