Length: ~ 3.5 to 4 km round trip, 45 min to 1 hour
Trail conditions: Moderately flat dirt path with some single track for first half. Second half changes to a steep, uphill, wide paved path, and then flattens out.
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult due to uphill climb and single track
Dogs: Allowed on-leash
Parking: Rowland Road Parking Lot
If you love dirt trails, great views and a perspective refresh, this route is for you! Beginning at the parking lot for Riverside Golf Course, this trail weaves along the riverfront on a quiet dirt trail with great views of the water and Dawson Park across the river before connecting with a paved uphill trail that takes you to the McNally lookout, one of the most underrated viewpoints in Edmonton.
With plenty of benches along the way that gaze upon amazing river valley vistas, pack a picnic and rest a while — and with that uphill climb, don’t forget to bring water! Other tip — this is a busy area for cyclists and mountain bikers, so stay alert and share the trail.
The Rowland Road Parking Lot serves as a parking lot for Riverside Golf Course but also works for this trail.
1. Beginning at the Rowland Road parking lot, head towards the dirt trail and turn right, heading towards the blue Dawson Bridge.
2. This dirt path follows the waterfront alongside Riverside Golf Course. There are a couple of benches to stop and enjoy the view.
3. You’ll also look across at Dawson Park and its hoodoos.
4. After roughly 1.8 km, there is a dirt singletrack trail that you take upwards to connect with the paved trail. You’ll miss it if you aren’t looking, so note that it comes shortly after a bench spot and a faded sign.
5. Walk up the single track trail until it connects with a paved trail, and turn right.
6. The paved trail is a climb as it eventually takes you to the top of the riverbank, where you were just at its base. There are a couple benches along the way as well as garbage cans if you have food or dog waste. Remember — pack in what you pack out, or throw it out properly!
7. The trail crosses a small boardwalk once you reach the top of bank, before continuing a bit further towards Rowland Road.
8. Once you’re at the road, head left up the trail that curves upwards to connect with the footbridge that allows you to cross the road safely and connect with McNally park.
9. Follow the trail as it curves along the top of the riverbank near McNally High School.
10. Eventually, you’ll reach the McNally lookout. There are a few benches for you to stop and enjoy the expansive views of the downtown skyline, the North Saskatchewan River, Walterdale Bridge and even Commonwealth Stadium.
11. Either return to Rowland Road and walk down the sidewalk to return to your car, or if you have good shoes, good balance and are feeling adventurous, there is a well-established single track trail that curves off from the last bench and takes you directly to the parking lot. Watch out for mountain bikers as it is a steep path.