Edmonton Tourist: Government House Park

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Such a great day for a visit to a park! But because it is early spring, choosing a park that would have very little melt or muck was important to me. Government House Park is located on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River and gets direct sunshine and heat. I figured it would have minimum spring run-off.

When The Captain and I parked, I looked around and decided to take a path less take by me. I had run this park multiple times and know where the trail leads along the river, but I had never followed the path that goes north. Until now.

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The first thing we found was a big puddle, the ground is low here and the run-off pooled to create this large pond-like water feature. We walked around it.

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We quickly discovered this path went parallel with Groat Road, something I had never walked or run on before.

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We made our way towards the new bridge that spans Groat road and is part of the Edmonton Marathon route. The old bridge is the one I broke my foot on during my very first half marathon… good times.

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Once we made under the bridge we found the path to be icy, and I was not in the mood to fall so we turned backed. I might come here in the summer and walk over to Coronation Park to explore.

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What I didn’t realize in all my years living in this city, there is an upper trail – who knew? (apparently every other Edmonton Citizen but me) It takes you by the toboggan hill. Up that hill is Government house. I always fantasized about living there as a kid and having this be my toboggan hill. Canadian Dreams….

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It is steeper and higher than it looks. But could you believe it was closed?

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We kept heading west with the intention of heading to McKinnon Ravine but as the trail combined with the lower tail, the water and mud was more than I wanted to let my white dog wander through.

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We began walking East towards the parking lot and decided to sit and enjoy the sun on our face.

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We were watching a flock of mauve/grey birds flit around when a Peregrine Falcon swooped in and crashed the party.

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Also bigger than it looks.

We headed up to Government House – the actual House. It is located on the old Royal Alberta Museum grounds. Government House was originally build as the residence of the Lieutenant Governor. That did happen for long and it soon became a meeting place for caucus. I toured it once and learned it was haunted, but I always fancied myself living here and it was the backdrop to many of my imaginary adventures.

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The now empty museum is such a beautiful building, I hope they do something amazing with it.

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It was a great day for the park adventure, but the mud was more that I had hoped for. I think I will wait a few more weeks before venturing deeper into the valley. I have a few more parks to visit to complete my river valley adventure:

  • Emily Murphy
  • Hawrelak
  • Buena Vista
  • Laurier
  • Rundle
  • Hermitage
  • Riverdale
  • Victoria

I have been to 10 (11 if you could Strathcona Science Park) I am over half way now. It should be a good summer!

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Dawson Park

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With the temperatures reaching 6C/45F today, I knew I wanted to be outside with my dog. I am pretty sure I broke him. Since I have been home he has been sleeping in my room all curled up in a ball. We walked along the north shore of the river for an hour and a half today. He loved it but now he is back to napping. I, on the other hand feel great!

Dawson Park is located in Riverdale, one of my favourite communities in Edmonton. I had always made the assumption that Dawson Park was the Riverside golf course so I never made an effort come here because I don’t golf. Perhaps if there was a goalie guarding the green I may be interested but mostly I could careless about golf.

The parking lot is right in front of Dawson Park’s cook-out pavilion with an amazing views of the North Saskatchewan River and the Riverside Gold Course on the south/east side of the river.

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The shelter is built in the same design as the one at Capitano Park and Henrietta Edwards Parks, picnic tables and a fireplace with hearth are located under the shelter. Within a few feet are other tables with wood stoves ready for smokies and marshmallows!

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The river is very accessible here with catch and release signs posted along the bank. I suspect in the summer this has anglers lined up along the banks trying to catch Lake Sturgeon, an endangered species that lives in our river. With the warm temperatures we have had this week, I didn’t want to venture to close to the water. It appears froze solid but who knows? It is hard to tell where the land is and where the water and ice begin.

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We decided to venture onto the main trail, I think it is a paved multi use trail because of how wide it is, but it is well covered with packed snow.

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Along the trail are English and Braille signage describing points of interest along the way. Dawson Bridge is named for HS Dawson who owned a coal mine across the bank. Dawson Park is named for his son John who was wounded in the battle of Vimy Ridge. I love that the City posts these little facts along the way. The more you know…

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We rounded the river bend and headed east. The trail was packed with dogs and their people as this is an off leash area. This beauty followed Cap and copied his every move until her person called her back.

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She obviously was crushing on my Cap, who could blame her? He is a swell guy.

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Apparently the Edmonton River Valley is home to mini Hoodoos. WHO KNEW? I certainly didn’t. Good day for learning new things about my city!

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We travelled further west until we came to stairs that tool us out of the valley and I think to Kinnaird Ravine, I may be mistaken, but the distance seemed correct. I didn’t feel like traveling all the way to Wayne Gretzky Bridge, so this was our turnaround point.

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Cap and I stepped off the main trail and walked on the trail closer to the river bank for our trip back.

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Facing East the river really bends through here, another point of interest I had no idea about. 49+ years in this City and I am still learning new things.

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We stopped on the bench to listen to the drums coming from down town, I suspect they were from the New Years Celebration coming from China Town. It was a deep thrum echoing in my chest. Cap also stopped to listen. The snow was slick from the melt so we made our way back onto the main part of the trail. I imagine this is a hot section during the summer.

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Spent a long time here obviously leaving the park and meeting up with the River Valley Trail system. I tend to avoid the Northside of the river for reasons unknown. I think this is a lovely section of the city and I am sure I will find myself here this summer when the trees are lush and the river is moving.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Upper Mill Creek Ravine

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I have been house bound for days. Partly due to illness and partly do to…who are we kidding, I was sick in bed for 5 days. I was feeling slightly better by Friday and today I felt slightly better than yesterday but I then came down with a serious case of Cabin Fever.

I decided to bundle up me and my pup and head to my most favourite part of the city, Upper Mill Creek Ravine. You may recall this summer, I went to the lower creek, north of the pool. Well,my favourite spot is south of the pool in the Argyll and Hazeldean neighbourhoods.

Did I mention how cold it was? I was in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate, you know the kind made from Ghirardelli and milk on the stove? Yeah, THAT kind. So delicious. When I said to my Captain, Want to go for a walk? His head snapped back so fast you would have thought we had not done this in a while. Wait…I hadn’t been at a park with him since November at the Science Park…Sorry Cap.

We both put our jackets on because it is cold. Fahrenheit on the left Celsius on the right. The wind made it feel colder -12F and -24C, that to me is the real temperature because feeling is everything.

Mill Creek Ravine is my happy place. It is the place I go when I am sad, happy, angry, resentful, disappointed, or any other myriad of emotions. I enter and become instantly relaxed. I kind of needed that today. Lets just say I am filled with complex emotions that need sorting out, so off I went.

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The upper trail is groomed and paved. The off leash dog park is way down in the gully. That is where Cap and I were headed. Not that I can trust him to be off leash, he is independent minded so I am not really sure he would come when I call him or if he would just say, “You know what Peasant? I miss living in the woods, I am out of here.” Now I am all for independent thought but I’d rather keep him safe with a chance at a long life rather than struggling to live in the wild, so I keep him on a leash. I do let him investigate all the great mouser places and animal dens. One day I am sure he will find a skunk hallow and then I will be sorry, but until then, it makes me happy watching him be happy.

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Happily there isn’t a lot of snow so far this year. That makes trekking easier and there hasn’t been any freeze/thaw cycles so no ice. This makes it safer for me who is prone to falling.

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Mill Creek trail is built on an old railway bed, so there is a converted trestle farther north, I am not convinced that what this is, it doesn’t seem sturdy enough to hold an old steam engine, but it is built in the old tresses style and is a lovely bridge over the creek. Obviously at temps that have been sub -20C for weeks, the creek is froze solid.

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This is part of the off-leash walk. There are trash cans an dog bag bins all through here. All they are is old grocery bags for people to use. There is zero excuse to be a lazy pet owner. I bring my own eco ones attached to Cap’s leash.

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Lots of pets with their people come down here. If my Real Estate agent called me tomorrow to say he found me a house within walking distance to here, I would cry with joy. Who doesn’t want to live here? It is silent as if you are in the middle of the country but the convince to being 5 minutes to downtown Edmonton. To me it is perfect. I have been down here and have spotted deer, the occasional moose, falcons, hawks, eagles and coyotes. I have heard of a bear sighting once and know there are porcupines and skunks with the odd badger but my trusty pal looks after me.

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After wandering around for about an hour I asked myself why I wait so long to come back? It clearly the best place I can be.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Terwillegar Dog Park

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I have been meaning to go to the Terwillegar Dog Park for a while now but wanted to wait until the bridge construction connecting the south and north sides of the river was completed. That just happened. So when I woke up Saturday morning, I had that magnetic force pulling me in that direction.

Terwillegar is not easily accessible for me. It is located in the South West corner of Edmonton and I have never felt like this was where my people lived. I am more of a central located kinda of gal even though I do not live central, I play there a lot. I visit those parks, restaurants, shops and many of my pals are centrally located so I am drawn there. South West, not so much. However, I pride myself on being familiar with every corner of my city. The Captain and I hopped into my car and we headed for this park.

Terwillegar has a reputation of being a great dog park. My dog is not able to go off his lead for safety reasons. The Captain is mostly a super a friendly dog, but he demands that other dogs respect him as Alpha. This is usually fine as most dogs are smaller and automatically accept this, but every now and then a large do comes along and Captain usually says to the other animal, “Kneel before me peasant” and if that dog does not comply, a battle will ensue. I also do not trust that Captain will come when I call him. He pretty much comes when he feels like it. Being a responsible dog owner, I know I cannot control my dog off lead, so he doesn’t get to run around the park…ever. This prevents any and all unwanted lawsuits.

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When we arrived, parking was at a premium. I managed to find a spot and looked over the field to see the pack. This park was busier than other parks I visit. Captain was pretty excited to see all the dogs racing around. I admit to feeling apprehension because of his unpredictable nature – my guy was a wild dog rescued from a reservation up north. He hunted and lived within a pack but I suspect he often went rogue. He talks to coyotes and hunts small game still. The field did not hold much interest for him, other than all the sniffing that was possible, he led me off towards the river and forest.

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This place does not do well after rain and snow, lately Edmonton has had its fair share of moisture. The place was a mud bog. My white dog sported black little legs in no time. I also was covered in mud, my least favourite thing unless I am barefoot or in wellies, I was wearing neither.

Once we arrived at the river, I could see the new foot bridge to the east of where I was. It was still a fair way off, so we made our way towards it through the woods. Huge mistake.

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I am fairly well versed in bush-wacking, this was a skill I put to good use as the trails were squelchy with muck. We tried to stay off the mud path and keep to the side for several reasons, my balance lately has been very unstable, so I did not need to slide around on the path most taken. The other reason being, I had a scheduled visit in an hour with my aunt who lived close by and I did not need to look as if I had been playing in the mud pretending I was 5. The final reason being, Captain hated baths. This guy would trapes through mud puddles as if this was the best thing in the world, but put his foot in clean water and you’d think I was punishing him for no good reason.

30 minutes of hiking through the mud and water, we finally came to the paved path that led to the bridge. This road had a think layer of muck as well. There was no place that was safe.

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After the City comes back in the spring to finish the landscaping, (add grass?) I can see this being a lovely spot, but today it filled me with regret.

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As we approached the bridge I marvelled at the engineering of this structure. Apparently it is the second longest stressed ribbon bridge in Canada, although I am unable to determine the longest. News reports didn’t offer that information. Essentially it is a high tech rope bridge. I walked across it with a fair amount of people sharing the bridge ( I wait a really long time to get a photo with out people) and I am happy to report it felt solid. The over hangs remind me of wings, giving the appearance the bridge is hovering or floating above the North Saskatchewan River.

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Of all the Edmonton Parks, I must admit this is my least favourite. The mud didn’t help, but I can certainly look past it. I doubt I will ever return but I do understand why the locals enjoy it and now with the bridge, they are connected at last with the River Valley Trail system that I am deeply in love with.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Louise McKinney Park


It was an effort finding a park that had parking space today. Anything in close proximity to the Heritage Days Festival was filled to the brim. After trying my luck at 3 different parks, Captain and I found ourselves over at Louise McKinney, another Famous 5 park.

We ran into some friends just as we climbed out of the car. They also tried to find space in other parks. It seemed everyone was wanting some green onion cakes and gelato found down at Hawrelak Park. We bid them well and made our way along the river front path.


The first thing we noticed was lovely poetry on the light posts. 


We stopped to see some rock piles and over grown grass.


It was Turtle Rock Effigy, an old Art Works festival creation from 2010. Not much to see anymore but the Pokéstop had a great photo of it.

We met several displaced men sitting on benches, all wanting to pet Cap and tell me how handsome he was. We had a lovely visit with them and wished everyone a great day. 

The trails surrounding the park were closed while LRT construction begins over at the bridge. I had visited that area earlier this year when we went to Henrietta Muirs park.

We climbed up to the Chinese Garden. Such a lovely oasis downtown. 


The park was used as a bike corridor for so many cyclists populated the park today.

I made my way to the Shumka Stage. An odd mix of Chinese and Ukrainian culture. 


And called it a day. Next week I’ll been in Calgary’s Glenmore park so perhaps I’ll explore a yyc park inset was.

Edmonton Tourist: Irene Parlby Park


I have decided to avoid the rest of the south river parks until the big festivals and events are over for the summer. The crush of people is more than I am looking for. I am enjoying peace and solitude with my Captain. Work and life has been hectic so quiet walks are what I crave.

The Captain and I headed for one of my favourite neighborhoods, Rossdale. I’m totally open to moving there because one of the city’s best kept secrets is Irene Parlby Park. She was one of the Famous 5. The group of women who fought to make women people under the law 100 years ago. 

I have run through this park many times, driving and parking was complicated. There was a ball game at Telus field so restricted parking was in effect. I found a 2 hour spot over by Diamond Park.


We walked about 500 meters south to reach the park.


We walked under James MacDonald Bridge to reach the green space I was looking for. 


It is a non traditional River valley park. There are no picnic spots or fire pits. However, there are lovely small gardens and bench spots for sitting.


Captain and l walked the path not taken along the river first with the intent to double back on the paved multi-use path.

With the river to our left we could see Nellie McClung and Queen Elziabeth Parks across the water.


I was on the lookout for Saskatoon berries but only found Mountain Ash in full berry.


We came to a fallen log that was blocking out path. A makeshift bridge was created to traverse it. It took a while to convince Cap he could make the jump.


We traveled further down the path. It felt like wilderness but homes and the formal path were only yards away.


The main jogging loop has been closed for a few years while the Walterdale replacement bridge goes up. A permanent gate blocks access.


We turned west out of the park to walk the residential block.


This led to the next park entrance and a lovely playground. 


We came to a lovely statue in the middle of a formal garden which turned out to be a Pokéstop. 


We continued north back towards the end of the park and found ourselves sharing the path with other cyclists, skaters and runners.


Such a lovely spot in the middle of the city, yet it was quiet and felt like the middle of nowhere. I’m looking forward to the trails opening up to reach Walterdale. I’ll be back, and often.

Edmonton Tourist: Whitemud Park

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I am fortunate enough to know this city very well. I explore it enough that I should have a pretty good idea what is what when it comes to the River Valley. Ask me about restaurants, bars and shops. I haven’t got a clue. But the valley? I know my way around.

This week was a very difficult week for me. Emily Murphy or Hawrelak Parks were supposed to be next, but the last thing I wanted was to be amongst the throngs of people utilizing the parks. I wanted peace and quiet or at the very least, I did not want to see people I knew and make small talk or chit chat. SO I packed up my pup and we headed towards the Whitemud Reserve located south of Whitemud park. It is a lovely unpaved path that leads to Rainbow Valley, yes it is a pretty as it sounds.

We hit the park in-between rain storms. The park itself was empty and there was a wedding over at the Savage Centre, but other than the odd hardy picnicker, Cap and I were on our own. Exactly what I was looking for.

The grass was wet but fresh. There was the smell of campfire in the air. The last time my family had a picnic here I was just a kid and the park wasn’t developed as nicely as it is now. I remember watching engineering students traverse of the creek, making a bridge for one of their projects. When they fell to the water below, it was knee deep and mostly mud.

We are on the cusp of berry season. The Choke Cherries were hanging in green bunches, the High Bush Cranberries had finished blooming and the Saskatoons were not yet ripe, but the clover was abundant and Cap decided to munch on some on our journey to the path that would lead us to the creek.

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The path took us to the wide open picnic site where one family had strung a tarp and were keeping the campfire lit. It made me think of all the reasons I love camping in the rain, then I quickly remembered all the reasons I don’t like camping in the rain. Walks were enough.

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We worked our way to Whitemud Creek and walked North towards the bridge.

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This was the spot I remembered sitting as a kid watching the engineering students before the bridge was built.

I love this section of the park. I often map out a great run route that can either be a quick little 5k or as much as a 16k depending on my mood. I avoided the running trails today knowing everyone was training for the upcoming Edmonton Marathon and they were all out for their 16k or 32k long runs today. So after I said hello to the North Saskatchewan River, I turned south and headed towards the Whitemud Nature Reserve.

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The south path takes you up the the major corner of Fox Drive (Hi Charlotte!) and Whitemud Freeway. This by no means is a peacefully quiet park. There is a lot of noise from the freeway, but visually you would think you were in the middle of nowhere.

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Before I went onto the path to the reserve, I looked at the flags that were celebrating the Canadian Olympic Trials happening this weekend at Foote Field. Most of Edmonton was there for that event. Pretty exiting seeing Olympic Champions in the making.

IMG_3637Down the path I went and noticed it might be fun to do a bit of bridge climbing but I think I was not the only one who thought of that.

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Now I was on reserve land, it boarders the Fox Farm to the west.

All along the path were naturalist signs highlighting berries and other plants that grow here in the valley. Information I already knew from my Grandfather years before, only if he forgot the name he would make one up, so my information was sketchy at best until I took my Anthropology: Comparative Medicine classes in University.

We came to a fork in the road that suggested the path was unsafe from all the water we had this year.

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So we crossed the creek again, this time heading East.

We walked past Fox Stairs and the Savage Centre heading back towards Whitemud Park. A storm was on its way and by the humidity in the air and how quickly my hair was curling, I knew a lot of water was going to drop from the sky.

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We made it back to the car just in time. I watered Cap in the car instead of outside as usual.

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I got in myself and the sky opened up.

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The quiet oneness with my pup was just what I needed. This is one of the best reasons to live here in Edmonton. A major urban centre and in 20 minutes from my home I can be in the middle of the wilderness.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Kinsmen Park

Hot day in the city and everyone thought it was a great idea to head to the valley. My first thought was to head to Emily Murphy and walk back along the river to Kinsmen but there was no parking to be found. In fact there was huge lines of traffic trying to enter the 3 major parks that surround groat bridge. So Cap and I headed east to Kinsmen to try our luck.

  
Parking was not much better but I did find a space in front of the John Walter Museum. Walter owned a brick manufacturing company and the ferry that transported people a horses across the river from Strathcona to Edmonton. Today was the 160- something birthday of Ann Walter so the museum was serving up tea and scones to celebrate!
   
   
Cap and I passed. He was more interested in finding chickens. We could hear them in the coop but I kept him away because his hunting instincts kick in and I was not up for a wrestling match against my pup and his favourite meal. So we walked along the path looking at the homestead of Walter and his two homes there after.

   
   
   
    
 
We past many actors who were polite and friendly. Many people were drinking tea on this hot day.

We made our way towards the Highlevel Bridge and walked around Husky House (the Husky Football Club) and the ball diamonds. The last time I was here was for the Run for Pie which was delicious. 

   
 
My kids always called this the Blue Park. Apparently this was because of a big blue slide. We used to come here for Friday Night Picnics, play at the “Blue Park” then head to the castle to swim before bed. 

The park has been completely refurbished since my adult children were young. I had a fleeting wish I had grandchildren to bring here. It’s now Kinpark and is bear themed. It’s reminiscent of Goldbar’s Moose Meadow complete with No Moose Allowed signs.

   
    
    
    
    

Cap pulled me along to Queen Elizabeth Pool. It used to be up the hill at Queen E Park but this is a perfect location for an outdoor pool.

   
    
   
It is located across from the Kinsmen Recreation Centre that holds a special place in heart. Lots of amazing swim memories here. 

  
As Cap and I walked  away, we saw the Street Car glide across the Highlevel Bridge. Apparently it is the highest crossing in western Canada but I didn’t fact check. 

   
    
 We also found the Alberta Legislative Building or Castle as my kids liked to call it, peeking out from across the river. 

 
As Cap and I made our way back to the Car, we noticed how the new Walterdale Bridge will dominate the skyline in the valley. I quite like it.  

 
This is still one of the best multi-use parks in the city. Come give it a visit! Next week is Canada Day, so I think I’ll cross the river and head to the ledge for the festivities and check out that park.