Snowshoe Program

Trips, comments and notes for snowshoeing.

Ratings

I use Andrew J. Nugara’s rating system from his books on how to snowshoe in the Rocky Mountains.  I have expanded the lower end as most of my trips will be beginner or intermediate at best.  See below for resources for more on Nugara’s books.

  1. Low Beginner
    1. Inner city or close by urban areas.
    2. Less than 5KMs in distance (all distances in round trip, RT).
    3. Nominal cumulative elevation gain (less than 50M).
    4. No technical challenges (e.g. walking through bush, steep grades, etc.).
    5. New, untested or ‘Department Store’ equipment acceptable.
  2. Beginner
    1. Inner city or close by urban areas.
    2. Less than 10KMs RT.
    3. Nominal cumulative elevation gain (less than 100M).
    4. Few if any technical challenges (e.g. walking through bush, steep grades, etc.).
    5. All forms of equipment acceptable, user should have used it at least a few times in the current season however.
  3. High Beginner
    1. Moderately close to urban areas (e.g. Elk Island, Chickakoo)
    2. Less than 15KMs RT.
    3. Some cumulative elevation gain (less than 150M).
    4. Some technical challenges (e.g. walking through bush, steep grades, etc.).
    5. Recreational snowshoes of at least moderate quality required, equipment should have been used at least 2 or more times.
  4. Low Intermediate
    1. One to two-hour drive from Edmonton City Centre.
    2. Less than 15KMs RT.
    3. Some cumulative elevation gain (less than 200M).
    4. Number of technical challenges (e.g. walking through bush, steep grades, etc.).
    5. Recreational snowshoes of at least moderate quality required, equipment should have been used recently to ensure it is in good working order.
  5. Intermediate
    1. One to two-hour drive from Edmonton City Centre.
    2. Less than 25KMs in distance.
    3. Overnight equipment is needed due to such plans or in case of emergency.
    4. Some cumulative elevation gain (less than 300M).
    5. Recreational snowshoes of moderate or better quality required, equipment should have been used recently to ensure it is in good working order.
    6. Numerous technical challenges (e.g. walking through bush, steep grades, etc.).
    7. Few objective hazards (e.g. rock falls, avalanche potential, exposure on steep as/descents.
  6. High Intermediate and Beyond: these are described as this is an area that I would not lead trips into.  Basically take Intermediate and add risks, length and a few challenges to boot.

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Program Trips

Victoria Park – Golfing with Big Feet

  • Date (first done and most recent): 12-Jan-2016
  • Starting Point: Victoria Park Parking Lot 12130 River Valley Rd, Edmonton
  • Route:
    • Victoria Park Oval parking lot.
    • Head west of the Skate Shack and pick up the X-Ski trails.
    • Cut north toward the escarpment to practice ascents, descents and traversing hills.
  • Cautions or Notes: None, beginner.

Victoria Park – Hills Lite

  • Date (first done and most recent): 19-Jan-2016
  • Starting Point: Victoria Park Parking Lot 12130 River Valley Rd, Edmonton
  • Route:
    • Victoria Park Oval parking lot.
    • Head west of the Skate Shack and pick up the X-Ski trails.
    • Loop through Victoria Park Golf Course on the skate portion of the trail.
    • Go east as far as the Glenora club and then take the North trail back.
    • Based on the time, retrace our steps or short cut back to the skate shack.
  • Cautions or Notes: None, beginner.

Mackinnon Ravine to Ravine Drive

  • Date (first done and most recent): 27-Dec-2016
  • Starting Point: Government House Park, 9938 Groat Road NW, Edmonton
  • Route:
    • West along MacKinnon Ravine from parking lot.
    • Look for a trail on the North side past the stair case.
    • Take trail up to Ravine Drive.
    • Walk east along table-land until staircase, descend via staircase and return to parking lot.
  • Cautions or Notes: could be slippery later in the season with melt, steep ascent in from the River Valley to table-land.  Carry shoes down staircase.

Kinsmen Park – Carry your Shoes

  • Date (first done and most recent): 29-Dec-2016
  • Starting Point: Victoria Park – East entrance
  • Objective: a combination of snowshoeing and how to pack poles and shoes.
  • Route:
    • Walk east along bike trail to LRT Bridge, cross over to South side of the North Saskatchewan.
    • Based on snow, snowshoe through Kinsmen park.  Play in the back forest, practice small hill ascents, etc.
    • Return via one of the bridges.
  • Cautions or Notes: the focus is on packing snowshoes.  The pathways are traveled enough to make this suitable for walking trip as well or in conjunction.

Hawrelak Park – Easy

  • Date (first done and most recent): 30-Dec-2016
  • Starting Point: Picnic Shelter #2 in Hawrelak Park.
  • Objective: basic technique and skills, make use of the larger field for specific practice activities.
  • Route:
    • Snowshoe across the park to the entrance and then west toward the river.
    • Pick up the river trail and return to the picnic shelter.
  • Cautions or Notes:none.

Hawrelak Park – Ascent and Obstacles

  • Date (first done and most recent): 30-Dec-2016
  • Starting Point: Picnic Shelter #2 in Hawrelak Park.
  • Objective: navigating through forested areas, narrow trails and steeper ascents.
  • Route:
    • Pick up one or more of the network of trails running parallel to the river and walk South (upstream).
    • There are both wide groomed trails as well as narrow foot trodden trails.
    • Turn around is reached by ascending to Grout Road; return can be via the same or other trails.
  • Cautions or Notes: Due to erosion, some trails have hazards nearer the river bank with upwards of a 10M exposure.  If done at night, tripping hazards in the narrow forested areas when stepping over log falls, etc..

Hawrelak Ascent and Obstacle Challenge – possible route

Bilby Natural Area

  • Date (first done and most recent): 2017-03-11.
  • References: Bilby Natural Area.
  • Starting Point: Southern most foot access off Ridge Road 14.
  • Objective: Complete loop of the natural area, explore cross trails.
  • Route:
    • Park at the southern most access point off Ridge Road 14 and across from the estate community.
    • A basic loop will take you to Kilini Creek and then return to the road via cut line.
    • Consider exploring trails that go across the reserve.
  • Cautions or Notes: Area is frequented by snowmobiles and ATVs, exercise caution on the trail.

Bilby Natural Area, Outer Loop

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Trips Further Afield

Big Lake to Hot Chocolate

  • Date (first done and most recent): circa 2007 / 31Dec-2016
  • Starting Point: 231 Street and Big Lake
  • Objective: Walk the ~9KM from the put in back to St. Albert, explore the provincial park en route.
  • Route:
    • Car shuttle, taxi or drop off at 231 street and Big Lake.
    • Walk to the lake and head east
    • Note that the upper portion of the lake connects via a narrow channel approximately 1 KM from the put in.
    • Lunch snack can be had en route.
  • Cautions or Notes: best done after a good period of freeze.  Normally the lake is very safe to walk on but springs, thaw periods, etc. can create open water.

2016-12-31 – EBTC Big Lake hike

Chickakoo Lake Recreational Area

  • Description: 480 acres of woodland and lakes, 11 kilometres of trails used for walking, mountain biking, horseback riding and cross country skiing. Trails are regularly groomed and tracks set regularly for cross country skiing in the winter months. Dogs are welcome on leash.
  • Links/Resources: Parkland County.
  • Location: 1228 Twp. Rd. 534, Sturgeon County.
  • Activities: Multiple trails of varying difficulty, skiing, snowshoeing, etc.
  • Cautions or Notes: None.

River Lot 56

  • Description: NW of St. Albert off Poundmaker road.  Trails are groomed in the winter.  Bikes and pets are not permitted.
  • Links/Resources: River Lot 56 Society.
  • Location: Poundmaker road St. Albert.
  • Activities: Multiple trails for skiing, snowshoeing, all beginner.
  • Cautions or Notes: None.

Glory Hills Ski Trails (Muir Lake)

  • Description: 110 acres including Muir Lake.  Trails are roughly maintained via quad/ski doo.  Excellent for snowshoeing, rough for skiing.
  • Links/Resources: Edmonton Area Land Trust, Glory Hills.
  • Location: West of St. Albert, other side of the road from Chickakoo.  Use: 42 Howery Dr, Spruce Grove, AB T7X for GPS coordinates.
  • Activities: Multiple trails for snowshoeing, all beginner although slightly uneven.
  • Cautions or Notes: None.

Sandy Lake Wilderness Area

  • Description: A small parcel of land on the eastern shore of Sandy Lake directly south of the Alexander First Nation.
  • Links/Resources: Appears to be managed by Sturgeon County.
  • Location: North of Calahoo on Highway 779.  At the corner of Range Road 10 (Hwy 779) and Township Road 554.
  • Activities: Multiple trails for snowshoeing, they are well established but may not interconnect.  Appears to be considerable ATV and vehicle traffic on the property.
  • Cautions or Notes: Monitor location so that you do not stray into private property, e.g. the reserve to the North.
  • Trail map: Sandy Lake Wilderness Map.

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Equipment

Don’t you hate it, you have the perfect combination of equipment and then you can’t remember what you wore!  The following is my attempt to take some notes under different conditions of equipment.  Feel free to borrow and use but remember, I tend to run hot and so will often have less clothing except for on my hands (slight frost bite as a Scout in the 1970’s – ahhh the good old days when you could sustain real injuries).

Dress: What to Where on Different occasions

For each day trip, I will try to note the following either in the page or in the comments.

Day (heading): weather including temperature range, wind and light conditions.

  • Head/Neck:
  • Torso:
  • Hands:
  • Legs:
  • Feet:
  • Pack:
  • Comments

2016-12-27: -8C to -4C light winds, sunny

  • Head/Neck: light beanie or bare head to evacuate heat; initially a fleece headtube.
  • Torso: long sleeve cycling jersey, fleece vest; cycling shell although this was quickly taken off.
  • Hands: initially, neoprene cycling gloves and then full-finger summer cycling gloves.
  • Legs: Shell pants with gaiters
  • Feet: Hiking boots.
  • Pack: Fanny pack

2016-12-27: -8C to -4C; too warm with shell and headtube.

2017-01-02: -25C to -19C, ice fog and the clearing, no wind.

  • Head/Neck: Insulated cap, head tube.
  • Torso: Winter insulated shell.
  • Hands: Lobster mitts.
  • Legs: Insulated snow pants
  • Feet: Hiking boots.
  • Pack: None.
  • Comments: had to exchange neoprene gloves for lobster mitts.  After ~20 minutes began to over heat so exposed head.  Shell and fleece vest was adequate when temperature had warmed up (circa -17C to -20C).

-25C to -20C attire.  Overheated with head gear, ski pants worked well.  Shell was too warm after -20C.