Length: ~ 2 km round trip, 30 minutes to 1 hour
Trail conditions: Moderately flat with some small inclines, paved path and dirt path
Dogs: Allowed off-leash except at picnic sites
Parking: Dawson Parking Lot
Work downtown and looking for a scenic lunchtime walk? Want to take your kids on a central, educational adventure in the river valley? Looking for a new place to take your dog off-leash? This short and easy walk in Dawson Park is the solution!
Dawson Park is located just outside of the downtown core in the neighbourhood of Riverdale, also known as “Edmonton’s Garden” for its big trees and green spaces. Its parking lot is easily accessible whether you’re coming from downtown and 95 St or from the east side of the river across the blue Dawson Bridge. Not to mention all your amenities are covered with a public washroom near the parking lot, a boat launch, and picnic sites.
Now you may be wondering—are there really hoodoos in Edmonton? Don’t you have to visit Drumheller and the Badlands to see hoodoos? Well, this small sandstone formation may technically be a “bentonite outcrop,” but it is a miniature resemblance of the hoodoos you will see in southern Alberta!
From the parking lot, take this in-and-out trail just past the hoodoos to the Kinnaird Park stairs before turning back. Or, make this a longer adventure and head up the stairs to explore Borden Park and perhaps check out its natural swimming pool if you’re in need of a cooldown! This trail also connects all the way to Highlands, Wayne Gretzky Drive and beyond if you have more time and are feeling especially ambitious.
We at the RVA recommend pairing this trail with the nearby Little Brick Cafe for a tasty treat and gorgeous (and dog-friendly) garden patio.
If travelling by car, park at the Dawson Parking lot. This small lot is near the public washrooms and picnic site.
- Follow the trail from the parking lot past the washrooms and picnic sites. You will also see the ramp that leads down to the Dawson boat launch.
- You’ll notice that there is a paved trail and a dirt trail. The paved trail is best for cyclists and runs closer to the cliffs that separate the park from east downtown. The dirt trail runs closer to the trees and offers closer river views. If you’re walking and want the best of both worlds, take the paved trail there and the dirt trail back, or vice versa!
- Along the trail are interpretive signs that talk about this section of river valley. Fun fact—this park was originally created for use for the blind with raised text on the interpretive signs. Sadly, these have mostly fallen out of use.
- After 1 km, you will have reached the Dawson Hoodoos—perfect for a photo opportunity, especially if seeking secret spots and hidden gems in the river valley is up your alley. Shortly after these hoodoos is a staircase that takes you up to Kinnaird Park and Borden Park. If you’re wanting a quick 30 minute to an hour walk (depending on how often you stop to take pictures!), this is a great place to turn around.
- Don’t forget to catch glances of the gorgeous blue Dawson Bridge through the trees—definitely another “instagrammable” photo opportunity no matter the weather!