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Elk Island National Park


Hiking & Walking

Hayburger Trail 10 km (3 - 4 hours)

Hayburger Trail is named after a family that homesteaded in the park until the 1930s. The trail crosses a black spruce bog where boreal birds and moose may be observed. The trail also winds through open aspen forest and meadows, the preferred habitat of the plains bison. Remain on the trail as there are hidden areas of quicksand in some of the large meadows.

Simmons Trail 3.5 km (1 - 2 hours)

Ellsworth Simmons was one of the five men responsible for the creation of the park in 1906. The trail begins at the Shirley Lake Trailhead and makes its way through aspen forest and rolling hills. A few open areas offer a chance to watch beavers and muskrats in action, especially at dusk. This is a short but challenging cross-country ski trail.

Shirley Lake Trail 10.5 km (3 - 4 hours)

Shirley Lake is named after the daughter of Dr. Love, an early superintendent. Numerous shallow lakes and ponds along the trail make it ideal for observing nesting waterfowl. The trail also passes through meadows where the elusive elk can occasionally be spotted, particularly at dawn and dusk.

Moss Lake Trail 13 km (3.5 - 4.5 hours)

The original 1906 south boundary is still visible from the trailhead parking lot. Sandy soil changes the vegetation composition periodically along this trail. The large number of small rolling hills makes this a more challenging cross-country ski trail.

Amisk Wuche Trail 2.5 km (1 - 1.5 hours)

Amisk Wuche is the Cree Indian name for Beaver Hills. The diversity of this trail is ideal for keeping children interested. The trail winds through aspen, birch and spruce stands. A series of floating boardwalks takes the trail across small kettle lakes and beaver ponds.

Lakeview Trail 3.5 km (1 - 2 hours)

The trailhead can be reached by parking near the boat launch and walking over the small hill near the lake (see map of Astotin Lake area). This trail offers a panoramic view of Astotin Lake and illustrates the sharp contrast between aspen forest and black spruce bog. There are two beaver ponds along the trail where lodges, dams and beaver activity can be seen.

Beaver Pond Trail 3.5 km (1 - 2 hours)

Trappers had completely eliminated beaver from the park area by the mid 1800s. Park staff successfully re-introduced them in the park in the 1940s. This trail is characterized by evidence of beaver activity near the trailhead. Lodges that are overgrown with vegetation are abandoned. The open aspen forest and sedge meadows along this trail are ideal for birdwatching in summer and observing large mammals grazing in winter.

Living Waters Boardwalk 300 m

This 150 m floating boardwalk starts from the Astotin Interpretive Centre (see map of Astotin Lake Area) and makes its way onto a lakeside marsh. This short trail is ideal for families with small children. It offers a close look at pond life and great views of Astotin Lake and its islands.

Tawayik Lake Trail 16.5 km (4 - 5 hours)

Tawayik is the Cree word for halfway. Tawayik Lake was a resting area about halfway between hunting camps in the Beaver Hills and Fort Edmonton. The narrows between Tawayik Lake and Little Tawayik Lake is impassable in summer and hikers must return along their same route. The narrows area contains meadows and small stands of aspen - a classic aspen parkland.

Shoreline Trail 6 km return (2 - 3 hours)

This paved trail, which follows the original road around Astotin Lake, can be accessed at the golf course parking lot or on the administration road (see maps). Beaver Bay, a small picnicing area, is located part way along the trail. The small bays along the shore provide ideal opportunities to observe Canada geese, American white pelicans, Red-necked grebes and other fascinating waterfowl.

Wood Bison Trail 16 km (4 - 5 hours)

The area south of Highway 16 was added to the park in 1947. Wood bison, the largest mammal in North America, have called this area home since 1963. The bison share the area with moose, elk, deer and a whole range of small mammals and birds.