Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park

hikes in Elk Island National Park

Region in Alberta, Canada
Elk Island National Park Trail Map

Tired of listening to horns while traffic lights and skyscrapers cloud your view? We’re exhausted even thinking about the hustle of the city! So why not get away from it all and immerse in the shaded hush of aspen, poplar, and spruce trees? Thankfully, Edmontonians only need to carve out 30 minutes of their day to reach Elk Island National Park, where a small network of trails cater to all ages and fitness levels. There may not be many hikes in Elk Island National Park, but hey, it’s all about quality over quantity, right?

The 8 Greatest Hikes in Elk Island National Park

Elk Island National Park is a quiet, wild wonderland that boasts various paths for all ages. If you’re short on time or would rather split your time between hiking and one of the other activities offered in Elk Island National Park, you can try out one of the shorter routes, which can last between 30 minutes to two hours, such as the easy Beaver Pond Trail. Amp up your heart rate with the more moderate Moss Lake Trail! And really challenge yourself on the 15.6km Wood Bison Trail that takes you on a loop through an aspen forest.

When you’re walking, be sure to look out for wildlife, such as bison, elk, moose, and beavers! Not sure which hike you want to do here? Take a look at some of the best hikes in Elk Island National Park below.

  1. Astotin Lake Lakeshore Trail - This 4.0mi out-and-back trail heads out from Astotin Lake Campground and grants stunning lakefront and island views. If you start to feel tired, you can turn around whenever you want!
  2. Beaver Pond Trail - This easy 2.1mi lollipop trail is another fantastic option for families visiting Astotin Lake Campground! The low elevation gain of 148ft and short distance—it usually takes one to two hours to complete—makes this a fun one for almost all ages and skill levels. Enjoy pond views!
  3. Islet Lake and Lost Lake Trail - If you’re looking to spend a half or full-day revelling in Elk Island National Park’s blissful forests, meadows, and lakefront views, this 10.6mi is tailor-made for you! This figure-eight route may be long, but the elevation gain isn’t too intense. If you aren’t in the mood to hike a long-distance, you can always turn around at Islet Lake.
  4. North Cooking Lake Trail - Located just outside Elk Island National Park, North Cooking Lake Trail is a short hike that takes under an hour to walk! The trail leads you to a lake. Spend some time here before turning around and heading back the same way you came. People also love to flock here for birdwatching!
  5. Hayburger Trail - Pass through marsh areas, meadows, and an aspen forest on the more moderate 7.4mi Hayburger Trail. This half-day excursion may seem long, but the small elevation gain makes it fun for families. Look out for birds in the marshes and meadows.
  6. Wood Bison Trail - The Wood Bison Trail is one of the most challenging hikes in Elk Island National Park, but only because of the length and not the elevation gain. This is a 9.9mi circuit that winds to Flyingshot Lake.
  7. Moss Lake Trail - The Moss Lake Trail immediately introduces you to Moss Lake before taking you through beaver dams and marsh areas! This 7.8mi hike is also another excellent option for those staying at Astotin Lake Campground, making it a fun half-day excursion for families.
  8. Astotin Lakeview Trail - If you don’t want to do the entire 4.0mi of the Astotin Lake Lakeshore Trail, opt for this 2.1mi alternative instead! This route takes you through beaver ponds and marshes before unveiling a lovely 360-view of the lake.

When Is The Best Time To Hike in Elk Island National Park?

The best time for hiking in Elk Island National Park is between May and October, when the weather is warmer! However, you can always look into snowshoeing and cross-country skiing during the winter.

Best Regions for Hiking in Elk Island National Park

You’ll find most hikes heading out from Astotin Lake Campground, so if you’re heading out to the park for the first time, we suggest going to this area first. However, the park isn’t tough to navigate, so you won’t face problems finding any other hikes.

Other Outdoor Activities in Elk Island National Park

The best part about Elk Island National Park is its range of activities! You can go canoe or kayak on Astotin Lake, cycle on paved roads, or try mountain biking. Or, if you’re in the mood to chill, there’s always the option to relax along Astotin Lake’s beach, where there are picnic tables, fire pits, and washrooms. When the weather dips, bring your snowshoes and cross country skis and explore a winter wonderland version of the trail!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to pay to go to Elk Island National Park?

Yes! It costs $7.90 for adults (18-64) to enter, $6.90 for seniors, and kids are free. Families or groups cost $16. However, you can buy an annual pass for $40.06 (adult) and $35.05 (senior). There are early bird deals, too.

What is Elk Island National Park known for?

In 1906, Elk Island National Park became Canada’s first wildlife refuge. Its goal was to protect one of the last elk herds in the area!

Does Elk Island National park have bears?

You’ll find a range of wildlife species dotting the area, including black bears.

Can I take my dog to Elk Island National Park?

Yes! However, they must be under control at all times!

Find other amazing hiking regions in Alberta:

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The best hikes in Elk Island National Park

Astotin Lake Lakeshore Trail

01. Astotin Lake Lakeshore Trail

4.0mi 279ft 1.5-2h

The Astotin Lake Lakeshore Trail is an out-and-back route that leaves directly from the Astotin… Read More

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Beaver Pond Trail

02. Beaver Pond Trail

2.1mi 148ft 0.5-1h

If you are staying at the Astotin Lake Campground or have already visited the lake,… Read More

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Islet Lake and Lost Lake Trail Map

03. Islet Lake and Lost Lake Trail

10.6mi 732ft 3.5-5h

The Islet Lake and Lost Lake route follows a figure eight shape starting at Islet… Read More

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North Cooking Lake Trail Map

04. North Cooking Lake Trail

1.4mi 85ft 0.5h

The out-and-back trip on the North Cooking Lake features a quaint lake that is located… Read More

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Wood Bison Trail Map

05. Wood Bison Trail

9.9mi 561ft 3.5-4.5h

The Wood Bison Trail is true to its name and offers the only chance to… Read More

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Hayburger Trail Map

06. Hayburger Trail

7.4mi 463ft 2.5-3.5h

The gentle and relaxing Hayburger trail in Elk Island National Park is a great half… Read More

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Astotin Lakeview Trail

07. Astotin Lakeview Trail

2.3mi 154ft 1h

From the campground, the Astotin Lakeview trail follows an interpretive route through marshes and beaver… Read More

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Moss Lake Trail Map

08. Moss Lake Trail

7.8mi 597ft 2.5-4h

The Moss Lake Trail passes by Moss Lake almost immediately, yet continues on through marsh… Read More

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