Visiting Edmonton This Summer? Discover 5 of Edmonton’s Secret Ponds, Lakes, and Scenic Oases

Beyond the hustling, bustling excitement of Edmonton’s urban life, there lies an expansive natural landscape just waiting for you to explore it. If you’re visiting Festival City this summer and want to beat the heat and the crowd, we’ve curated a list of Edmonton’s hidden waterfronts that offer peaceful escapes into nature just for you. So put on your hat and sunglasses, slather yourself in sunscreen, fill up your water bottles, and let’s take a picturesque stroll through some of the lesser-known gems that our beautiful city has to offer.

The Best Hidden Gems to Help You Beat the Heat

The North Saskatchewan River may be a vital artery that bisects Edmonton, but numerous other waterways contribute to the city’s diverse water features. Here’s a glimpse into some of Edmonton’s hidden waterfront gems, each offering a distinct character and recreational opportunities:

Wizard Lake
Located just southwest of Edmonton, Wizard Lake is a hidden gem known for its peaceful atmosphere and outdoor activities. This elongated lake stretches across a lush landscape, offering calm waters perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, and paddleboarding. The surrounding Wizard Lake Provincial Recreation Area provides campsites, picnic areas, and hiking trails that weave through forested areas, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of nature. Those of you who love the water will find much to do here, from sailing to wakeboarding, while those onshore can bask in the serene atmosphere and enjoy the lake’s panoramic sunsets.

Fort Edmonton Park Footbridge
Nestled within the North Saskatchewan River Valley, the Fort Edmonton Park Footbridge spans the river and offers visitors breathtaking views of the valley’s natural landscape. The footbridge is a hidden haven for those who want to explore Edmonton’s riverfront beauty while taking in sweeping views. With pedestrian and cycling paths, this bridge is a fantastic starting point for discovering the valley’s vast trail system, which includes a network of paths perfect for hiking, biking, or leisurely strolls. Nearby attractions like Fort Edmonton Park and the Edmonton Valley Zoo complement your exploration with unique cultural experiences.

Astotin Lake at Elk Island National Park
Escape the city and immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of Astotin Lake, nestled in Elk Island National Park. This lake is known for its clear waters, beautiful islands, and a wealth of outdoor activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing. Astotin Lake is also home to diverse wildlife, making it a perfect destination for birdwatchers and nature photographers. The surrounding forests and wetlands teem with life, providing ample opportunities to spot elk, beavers, and migratory waterfowl. As a designated dark sky preserve, the national park is also a premier destination for stargazing, offering unobstructed views of the Milky Way and occasional sightings of the Northern Lights.

Big Lake and Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park
Located on the northwest edge of Edmonton in St. Albert, Big Lake and the surrounding Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park create a vital habitat for hundreds of bird species and other wildlife. The park’s wetlands and marshes are among the most ecologically significant in the region, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. Big Lake’s rich ecosystem is best explored via the boardwalks and viewing platforms that provide access to this stunning landscape. For those seeking water-based recreation, kayaking or canoeing on Big Lake provides an unparalleled opportunity to observe the serene beauty of the wetland from a unique vantage point. Fishing and nature photography are other popular activities here, with the vibrant fall foliage adding another layer of beauty.

Whitemud Creek
The Whitemud Creek ravine is a hidden oasis that cuts through Edmonton, providing a lush natural escape for locals and visitors. The creek meanders through a deep valley, creating a dynamic landscape of forested trails and diverse wildlife. As one of Edmonton’s most scenic walking routes, the Whitemud Creek trails are perfect for birdwatching, photography, or simply reconnecting with nature. A series of bridges and boardwalks allow for intimate views of the creek itself, while the surrounding terrain offers a peaceful sanctuary filled with songbirds, small mammals, and lush vegetation. The ravine is also an important wildlife corridor, providing a crucial habitat for species like deer, beavers, and coyotes.

Activities For Everyone

Edmonton’s hidden waterfronts cater to a variety of interests and activity levels. Need some ideas to make the most of your waterfront adventure? We’ve got you covered:

Hit the Trails: Numerous paved and unpaved trails wind along the shorelines of Edmonton’s lakes, creeks, and parks. Explore the trails on foot or bike, taking in the sights and sounds of the natural environment. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, there’s a trail perfect for you.

Get on the Water: Kayaking and canoeing are fantastic ways to experience Edmonton’s waterfronts from a unique perspective. Glide across the calm waters of Wizard Lake, Astotin Lake, or Big Lake, observing the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. Several rental companies offer kayaks and canoes, making it easy to get on the water, even if you don’t have your own equipment.

Cast a Line: Fishermen (and women) can cast their lines in many of Edmonton’s lakes, including Wizard Lake and Big Lake. Be sure to check fishing regulations and obtain any necessary licenses before heading out.
Birdwatching: With a keen eye and some patience, you might spot a variety of birds at Edmonton’s waterfronts. Observe ducks, geese, pelicans, herons, and various songbirds at Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park, or head to Wizard Lake for a chance to see eagles and other birds of prey.

Relax and Reflect: Sometimes, the best way to experience Edmonton’s waterfronts is simply to relax and take in the scenery. Find a quiet spot by the water at Big Lake or along Whitemud Creek, listen to the sounds of nature, and let your worries melt away. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a peaceful meal surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors.

Preserving Edmonton’s Best-Kept Secrets

Edmonton’s hidden waterfronts are a precious resource that deserves our respect and care. So we’ve compiled some ways you can help preserve these natural wonders:

Leave No Trace: When enjoying Edmonton’s waterfronts, practice responsible recreation. Pack out all your trash and avoid disturbing wildlife or vegetation.

Be Mindful of Wildlife: While observing wildlife is encouraged, maintain a safe distance and avoid interfering with their natural behaviour.

Respect the Environment: Be mindful of your impact on the delicate ecosystems around the waterfronts. Avoid using soaps or detergents while swimming or washing dishes near the water.

Support Conservation Efforts: Consider volunteering with local organizations dedicated to protecting Edmonton’s waterways. You can also support businesses that advocate for sustainable practices.

Beyond Recreation

The city’s waterfronts offer more than just recreational activities. They play a vital role in Edmonton’s ecological health and cultural heritage.

Habitat for Wildlife
The lakes, creeks, and wetlands provide essential habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals. These water sources sustain fish populations, migratory birds, and various amphibian species. Explore Astotin Lake at Elk Island National Park for a chance to see beavers and muskrats building their lodges, or head to Whitemud Creek to spot deer and other mammals coming down to drink.

Historical Significance
Edmonton’s waterways have played an important role in the city’s development. The North Saskatchewan River, while not directly featured in this list, was a vital transportation route for Indigenous peoples for centuries. Early fur traders and settlers also established themselves along the riverbanks, shaping Edmonton’s history. The Fort Edmonton Park Footbridge offers a glimpse into this past, connecting you to the reconstructed fort and its rich stories.

Cultural Importance
Edmonton’s waterfronts hold cultural significance for its Indigenous communities. Traditional ceremonies and spiritual practices are often connected to these waterways. It’s important to respect these traditions while enjoying Edmonton’s natural beauty.

Planning Your Waterfront Adventure

To help you make the most of your exploration of Edmonton’s hidden waterfronts, we’ve got some insider tips:

  1. Check for Events: Edmonton’s waterfronts host various events and festivals throughout the year. From fishing derbies at Big Lake in the summer to guided walks through Elk Island National Park in the fall, there’s always something happening to enhance your waterfront experience.
  2. Gear Up: Depending on your planned activities, pack appropriate clothing and gear. Sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and comfortable shoes are essentials. If you’re planning to kayak or canoe, don’t forget life jackets.
  3. Explore Local Businesses: Many charming cafes, restaurants, and shops are located near Edmonton’s waterfronts. Grab a coffee and a pastry before your adventure at Wizard Lake, or enjoy a post-activity meal with a beautiful view of Big Lake.

Edmonton’s hidden waterfronts offer a refreshing escape from the urban buzz and a chance to connect with nature. Whether you’re seeking an active adventure, a peaceful retreat, or a glimpse into Edmonton’s history and culture, these scenic oases provide something for everyone to enjoy. So, lace up your walking shoes, grab your kayak paddle, or pack a picnic basket, and head out on your journey to discover some of Edmonton’s best-kept secrets.

Don’t forget to book your stay through Edmonton’s Best Hotels to take advantage of our 1, 2, 3 Reward Deal, where you can get up to $225 in Rewards just for staying in one of our luxurious member hotels.

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Terms and Conditions

The “1,2, 3 Pick Your Rewards”, Terms and Conditions and Blackout Dates 

Rewards Program campaign dates

Reward package available to book from January 5, 2022 for stays to December 31, 2024 for rewards except for possible blackout dates. At present there are no blackout dates scheduled.

Rewards are subject to while supplies last.  Substitutions of equivalent kind, value may be made as necessary.  Rewards are non-transferable, no cash value, no cash back.

  • Rewards are non-transferable, non-exchangeable, have no cash value, no cash back.
  • Rewards cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion.
  • Reward deal is net non-commissionable.

Blackout dates

At present there are no blackout dates scheduled. 

In the event blackout dates are scheduled, any guest who makes a booking for a hotel stay during the blackout period prior to the blackout period being named will receive the rewards they are booked for. 

Rewards Program offerings

Book one night’s stay with Edmonton’s Best Hotels and receive your choice of one of three $50 rewards excluding blackout dates:

  • $50 Gas Card or
  • $50 Prepaid Mastercard, or
  • $50 Ultimate Dining Card

Book two night’s stay with Edmonton’s Best Hotels and receive your choice of one of five reward packages excluding blackout dates:

  • $150 prepaid MasterCard, or
  • $75 Gas card and $75 MasterCard, or
  • $75 Gas card and $75 Ultimate Dining Card, or

Book three night’s stay with Edmonton’s Best Hotels and receive your choice of one of four reward packages excluding blackout dates:

  • Three Night Reward 1: $225 Prepaid Mastercard
  • Three Night Reward 3: $75 Ultimate Dining Card + $75 Prepaid Mastercard + $75 Gas Card

One choice of reward per stay. 

Guest must be 18 years of age or older at time of redemption. 

Prepaid Mastercard’s can be used for online purchases only. In Canada, prepaid Mastercard’s cannot be used at any retail outlet (including your hotel) with point-of-sale systems.

Rewards distribution

Rewards will be emailed directly to guests within 48 hours of Edmonton’s Best Hotels confirming their check-in.  Rewards are not provided by the hotel’s front desk.   All rewards are sent electronically. 

Reservations

Guest must reserve a minimum of 24 hours prior to arrival.

Rewards are NOT available for reservations made less than 24 hours in advance of arrival.

Reservations made directly with hotels and not through Edmonton’s Best Hotels are not eligible for rewards. No exceptions. Rewards are only provided to guests who book through Edmonton’s Best Hotels online booking platform.  Booking reservation confirmations will have Edmonton’s Best Hotels branding on them. Rewards not provided for hotel reservations during specified blackout dates.

Reservations cannot be extended by hotels for additional rewards.

Guests may add a night to an existing one-night deal reservation and receive additional rewards if the request is made a minimum of 24 hours in advance of arrival.

Booking terms and conditions

Rewards provided for more than one night, must be for consecutive nights under one registration under one name at one property. In addition, no more than up to three consecutive nights will be honoured. If a guest checks in for three days and then checks out and re-checks in for the next day, this is considered a consecutive night booking even if the second booking is made at different hotel.  

There must be a minimum of three days between bookings.

Multiple reservations for the same person for the same night(s) is considered a double booking and only one of those bookings will be eligible for rewards. For example, if a guest books two nights on x and y date and then makes another two-night booking for the same dates at the same hotel or another hotel, EBH considers this a double booking and will honour rewards for only one of those bookings. 

Is there a limit on the number of bookings I make on different dates?  Edmonton Best Hotels welcomes repeat business.  Some of our guests visit Edmonton every month.  Please note as stated earlier there must be a minimum of three days between bookings. Please also note stated blackout dates.

Cancelling and date changes to reservations

If a guest wants to cancel or change the dates of their booking.

What if I want to cancel my booking?  Edmonton Best Hotels must cancel your booking (not the hotel).  If you want to cancel, contact info@edmh.ca and let us know.  We will cancel your booking and send you a cancellation number for your records.  Please do not cancel directly with the hotel.

What if I want to change the dates of my booking?  You must contact Edmonton Best Hotels at info@edmh.ca and let us know you want to make a date change.  Your original booking must be cancelled first.  You will receive a cancellation number for your records.  Then, you must rebook for your new dates.  The hotel nor Edmonton’s Best Hotels cannot make date changes to the original booking.  Please note this does not guarantee you will receive the same hotel rate when you rebook for different dates.

Any questions, please contact Edmonton Best Hotels at info@edmh.ca 

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