Edmonton, Travel | 2 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Experience the Bounty in Parkland County.
It was the best weekend to go and stroll through the Parkland County. So I packed my bicycle in my car and drove west of the city into the Parkland County, to enjoy the weather. It’s perhaps the best time to get out and just ride for the pure pleasure of it. On this tour I will take you through the Glory Hills to Chickakoo Lake and Muir Lake…
Old barn by the road in Parkland County
This year September had actually been better than all the previous months in the summer. The leaves are turning yellow and the morning air is crisp, but you found yourself surrounded with the beautiful countryside and the whole world around you is transforming into a spectacle of color.
Canoe on Muir Lake
From Edmonton I traveled west on the Yellowhead (Hwy 16) and turned north on Campsite Road, then headed west on TWR540. The parking lot by Muir Lake is on your left, just before the road bends north. You can also get here from Stony Plain. Just head north on secondary highway 779 then east on 540. At the T-intersection, turn south (right) and take your first right (south) into the parking lot.
Trail to the shore of Muir Lake
Muir Lake – lake levels are receding
I parked my car at the Muir Lake parking lot in the Parkland County, located only about 11 km north of Stony Plain on Township Road 540. There were a number of fishermen on the lake that were trying to catch the odd trouts from the floating tubes. With lake levels receding as they have in last several years, Muir will likely not have survive this winter without aeration. I think it’s primarily lack of rain hereabouts. Since this September was extremely dry, even the Sturgeon River has stopped flowing and the level of water in all local lakes are way down. The only negative feed back I heard from local fisherman is the amount of weed growth. By the time August comes around, it’s hard to get to the east side of the lake in a float tube due to the high growth in weeds.
Fishing from the floating tubes
But I’m not a fisherman, so I got my bike out of the car and started riding. I rode my bike towards west on Township road 540. After only 3.2 kilometers from Muir Lake I crossed Alberta Highway 779 and entered area of “Glory Hills” in Parkland County. I thought this was paradise. With all the leaves changing colors it was an amazing filling. I was thinking how lucky people are who live here and can see this scenery every day.
Rolling terrain in the Glory Hills area
The Glory Hills refers to an area west of Edmonton and North of Spruce Grove and Stony Plain. The Glory Hills area is in a transition zone between the boreal and parkland ecosystems and contains species from both ecosystems. This stretch of rolling hills covered with aspen parkland interspersed with many lakes is still largely forested but much of it is now being converted into acreages. Highway 16, the Yellowhead Route, is the major road through the area, but numerous side roads provide interesting drives.
An old barn on the farm
View of Chickakoo Lake
In the last 2 million years a number of major continental glaciers advanced from the northeast and covered much of Alberta. About 12,000 years ago the last great ice sheet began to melt and retreat northward. Once covered by glaciers, the Glory Hills is an area where a great deal of glacial till was left behind. Deposits of outwash sand and gravel, pitted deltaic silts, and lacustrine clay may be found in the region.
The forest around me was largely aspen with some balsam poplar, paper birch, and white spruce. Wildlife includes porcupine, mink, weasels, red squirrel, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and red fox. I challenged myself on the rolling parkland terrain, but continued to enjoy beautiful scenery. Soon, I reached the area of Chickakoo Lake on my left (south) side.
Typical Alberta farm on Chickakoo Lake
Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area is a beautiful scenic park located North of Stony Plain. You can bring your family here to enjoy a fishing trip, spend a few hours canoeing, mountain biking, or hiking through the park. Bring along a camera or binoculars to enjoy the diverse wildlife that live at Chickakoo.
This 480-acre park has over 14 kilometers of scenic trails, which are perfect in the summer for walking or biking and in the winter trails are track set for cross country skiing. Chickakoo Lake Park can be accessed by going north of Highway 16 on Highway 779, head west on Township Road 534, and follow the signs into the park. You can pick up a park brochure at the Parkland County Centre, or you can drop into the park and check out the well marked trails and trail maps located at the entrance to the park.
So romantic… Alberta farm
Chickakoo Lake recreation Area
The trails wind their way through the forest or beside four small lakes, which give summer strollers and bikers a chance to see various birds and other wildlife in a natural setting. Chickakoo Lake Park also features a seasonal chalet for winter recreation. This chalet lets skiers rest up and find shelter from the wind and cold.
There is a nice picnic area and outdoor washrooms. The park is also used as a boat launch and fishing is popular.
The forest around the lake is largely aspen and some balsam poplar
In the Patricia Hills – breathe taking view
I rode my bike all the way to Patricia Hills. Patricia Hills is a quiet, rural subdivision located in the beautiful glacier-formed “Glory Hills” in Parkland County, North-West of Edmonton. It is home to an abundance of wildlife, natural vegetation, and many lakes and streams. It’s not uncommon to see Whitetail or Mule-Deer, Moose, or other wildlife roaming around the area. It’s a lifestyle that residents have come to love and appreciate.
One of the houses in the area (with three guard dogs on duty!)
Autumn splendor in Parkland County
At Patricia Hills I turned around because this was the end of the asphalt and I don’t ride on gravel roads. From here I turned south on RR 11 and took the TWP 534 towards the Glory Hills. The TWP 534 was just redone and has nice and smooth surface ideal for biking. Being in the Glory Hills meant that the road was rolling up and down over the hills.
Parkland village barn
You know you’re in the Prairies when you see Hay in the field