The Edmonton metro region river valley runs through the entire city and surrounding regions, and while it’s certainly pretty to look at as you drive beside or over it, that’s not the same as actually experiencing it. So where can you actually park your vehicle and go exploring?
In this blog post, we feature four sections of the river valley that are easily accessible by car and which also include a place to park. No more excuses —it’s time for you to go out and #trekthetrails!
Conveniently located near the Edmonton Valley Zoo and just 15 minutes from downtown Edmonton, Laurier Park is not only a great starting point for short and long trails, it also has a boat launch and an off-leash dog park. Walk along the Laurier Park side of the river to stay closer to the water, or go across the Buena Vista footbridge and take the high trail to Keillor Point lookout (formerly the “End of the World”).
The paved trails in Laurier Park are also suitable for biking, though the unpaved trails near the water are off-limits to bikes. Laurier Park also has picnic sites available to rent, as well as public washrooms.
Just off Terwillegar Drive, which is easily accessible from the Whitemud Freeway, Terwillegar Park features an off-leash dog park and a boat launch. Since this park is out in the suburbs, the trail network here gives a quiet feeling of serenity and feels like being lost in nature! The sheer size of the park makes for great biking as well, especially if you’re into mountain biking and single track trails.
One of the highlights of Terwillegar Park is the footbridge (a River Valley Alliance project!). This bridge is not only Edmonton’s first “stressed ribbon” bridge, it’s the world’s second longest stressed ribbon suspension bridge and is a great instagrammable spot in the river valley! You can cross the bridge to continue onward on the Oleskiw Trails and eventually hook up with another great lookout (and killer workout), the Wolf Willow stairs.
Nestled in the heart of Edmonton near the neighbourhood of Riverdale is Dawson Park, which also has an off-leash area. Unlike a lot of downtown spots, the parking here is free and plentiful. Biking is excellent here as well, as the trail is wide and paved and the hills are relatively gentle. In addition to having a public washroom and picnic area, Dawson also has a boat launch.
Stunning views of the blue Dawson Bridge, as well as our very own hoodoos, make this stunning natural gem in the downtown core worth a visit.
Riverside Nature Trail
If you truly want to get off the beaten path, Riverside Nature Trail in Strathcona County is where to go. Heading east into Strathcona County on the Yellowhead Freeway, this trail is just a skip and a jump down Range Road 232/Sherwood Drive. This 5 km well-marked loop takes you along the riverside, through meadows and along old dirt roads—a true country feeling without being too far from the city! If you feel inspired and inclined, you can even continue along the riverside trails to Fort Saskatchewan.
Note: there are no public washrooms at the trailhead.