I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Trail Hiking in Edmonton, Alberta
The city of Edmonton, Alberta has long and cold winters. But in the summertime, there are a ton of trails in this city, including ones that offer elevation. The city of Edmonton has a huge river valley trail system near the North Saskatchewan River that should entertain trail-hiking enthusiasts for several days.
A trail system within a river valley is not unlike many other destinations on the Canadian prairies. The cities of Calgary and Saskatoon offer the same kind of hiking setting. Furthermore, a lot of the smaller cities or towns on the Canadian prairies feature trails within a river valley setting. It seems that the rivers on the prairies are central to creating the scenic areas and the ravines that offer hikers the elevation changes that they usually prefer.
Edmonton's North Saskatchewan River Trail Network
The North Saskatchewan River originates in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It flows to the east from there, it eventually merges with the South Saskatchewan River, and then it forms the Saskatchewan River from that point onward. Ultimately, these waters exit into Lake Winnipeg, which itself fuels rivers that exit into Hudson's Bay.
Edmonton, a city that isn't a huge metropolis relative to other Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto, is still a very large city in terms of geographical space. The North Saskatchewan River runs from the southwest to the northeast and there are trails throughout its domain.
River Valley Trail in Edmonton
Quesnell Bridge is Near An Entry Point to the River Valley Trail
My Recommendations for Hiking in Edmonton
Like any major city in North America, there are some parts of Edmonton that you will want to avoid. There are some dodgy areas of Edmonton and I associate most of my negative experiences with the central and northeast sections of the river valley.
Yet, these negative experiences are limited: you should be able to hike or trail walk any trail in the river valley system without worries. I did do a hike near the Highlands Golf Course where I came across a lot of garbage that I thought might have been the result of homeless people living in the area at some time in the past. Also, in the university area, I've come across pieces of luggage and wondered what the story was with them.
Fort Edmonton Park
The best area for hiking, in my opinion, is in the Fort Edmonton Park area. I recommend going to the intersection of Fox Drive and Whitemud Drive. There is a bridge there called the Quesnell Bridge that has parking spots underneath it (53.505172, -113.567184). In this area, I've never really encountered any kind of questionable situation that made me feel nervous. However, as you will see in the next video, you do have to be careful of slippery conditions when the weather is wet.
River Valley Trail Loop
Just steps from this bridge, you will find the River Valley Trail Loop (see the Google Maps post below). This is a trail that can be enjoyed as either a loop or you can get break the trail route and check out the area in freelance style. There is the Fort Edmonton Park pedestrian footbridge as a highlight in the area (53.495506, -113.589128), a nice bridge where you can overlook the river directly (see the video).
Patricia Ravine Trail
When taking the route I'm recommending, you start on the south side of the river but if you take the footbridge then you will end up on the north side of the river. The trails on this side of the river in this section were not that well developed as of my 2020 visit. But there is a trail called the Patricia Ravine Trail and there are nice viewpoints of the North Saskatchewan River valley. Furthermore, there are opportunities for elevation if you want to turn your outing into a good workout.
With another footbridge off of Quesnell Crescent (53.510419, -113.569237) you can get back to your vehicle. Taken as a two-hour outing, this hike would offer nice scenery, great exercise, and it's in a safe area.
Difficult Conditions When Rainy
Edmonton's Pedestrian Footbridge Near Fort Edmonton Park
A More Extended Walk in Edmonton's River Valley
If you want a longer hike, then I recommend starting closer to the University of Alberta. Near 76th avenue and Saskatchewan Drive, there is an entry point into the river valley system (53.512329, -113.538825).
This area is safe for parking, it’s safer than many other points in Edmonton for walking and there is a spot called Keilor Point that affords nice views of the river valley. You can walk for about 45 minutes or so to get to Quesnell Bridge and then loop back for a three-to-four-hour hike that will include some elevation.
Lots of Other Options in Edmonton for Hiking
If it’s a viewpoint of Edmonton’s skyline that you want, then the area around McNally High School is a good spot to be. Their football field offers a great viewpoint of downtown Edmonton.
There are many other trails in Edmonton’s river valley that could be walked. However, I don’t like the northeast section of Edmonton as that’s the rougher part of town. The litter I mentioned earlier wasn't just garbage but included clothing. If time is of the essence, then you don't have to discover every trail in all of Edmonton. For other hiking or nature trail walking in the area, there is always Elk Island National Park to the east of Edmonton, Bunchberry Meadows near Devon, and Chickakoo Lake Regional Park to the west.
View of Edmonton's Downtown Skyline from the McNally Viewpoint
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Shane Lambert