Many years ago, the government of Canada made plans to build a trail all the way across the country, called the Trans Canada Trail. I was very excited about this and I looked everywhere for information. However, it seems that it takes a long time, and it’s very complicated to build a trail like this. Later, I heard that a 300-kilometre trail was completed in Northeastern Alberta: the Iron Horse Trail. At first, there was very little information about this trail, and how you could use it. Recently, I’ve been able to find more and more information about this trail, and exactly where to go, if you want to walk on it. This is a “multi-use” trail, and can be used by skiers, snowshoers, walkers, and snowmobiles in the winter months. In the summer, ATVs (all terrain vehicles like quads) can use the trail, along with equestrians (horseback riders), hikers, and cyclists. Everyone needs to watch out for each other, and they need to remove all of their trash from the trail. This trail was built where the railway (nicknamed the “iron horse”) used to go. Trains can’t travel up or down steep hills, so usually railway tracks are very flat. I’ve been interested in visiting this trail for a very long time, and I finally got to make a visit, and begin to hike some of the distance.
Saturday morning, my friend and I left Edmonton very early (about 6 am) to drive to Smoky Lake, Alberta, down Highway 28. We parked one car at the staging area in Smoky Lake, and then we drove the other car back to Wasketenau, Alberta. The staging area for the trail is 1 kilometre west of town. After that, we just walked for the next 4 hours, carrying our water and some snacks with us. The trail was very peaceful, and we didn’t see any other people, except for one person walking in the small town of Warspite, halfway between Wasketenau and Smoky Lake. We saw many ducks and other birds, and a herd of cattle watched us very curiously. At this time of year, the temperature is still very cool (around freezing), and there is almost no colour around the countryside, since plants are only just starting to turn green. My phone turned off after 20 kilometres, but our total distance was about 24 kilometres. Smoky Lake is well-known for growing pumpkins and they have a big pumpkin festival every October. When we got to the end of the trail, we just had to cross the street to order a big breakfast for lunch. Our coffee tasted delicious!
Let me know if you’ve ever hiked on the Iron Horse Trail, or if you’re interested in hiking there.