Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village – Hiking Alberta

The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is a short distance east of Elk Island National Park on the historical Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16) east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  There is an admission charge for most visitors.  Special events are hosted throughout each summer but Mel and I are here on a quiet, warm Monday afternoon.  The village is one of Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites which represents the significant contribution Ukrainian immigrants made to the development of Western Canada in the late 1800′s and early twentieth century.  There are guided tours which provide broader access and information than Mel and I will achieve on our informal walk around this fascinating historical complex.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

From the Admissions Booth, Mel parks in the shaded parking area and we make our way past a beautifully preserveded dwelling called ‘Muster Point’, which I find a bit odd.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

‘Muster Point’ at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Entrance to the Visitor Reception Centre is via wooden-covered walkway past the courtyard containing a 1980 Leo Mol bronze sculpture titled, ‘Pioneer Family’.  At the reception desk an attractive young woman in historical pioneer clothing provides Mel and I with an interpretive map and information about guided tours.  Following a brief foray in the adjacent gift shop, we make our way to the Visitor Reception Centre exit and walk along the Causeway, through a forest tunnel, which crosses the marsh-lined shores of Goose Lake.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The wood-covered promenade leading to the Visitor Reception Centre at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Entrance to the Visitor Reception Centre at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The map on the wall behind the reception desk is nearly the same as the large paper map provided to us at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Click on the image to expand for marginally possible reading, then on the browser back button to return to the post.

The views from each side of the Causeway, across the strikingly beautiful, marsh-lined shores of Goose Lake, provide a hint of the pioneer building structures which are spread over a fairly large area.  All the pioneer buildings has been relocated to this site, acquired by the Alberta Government in 1975.  The representative, early-settlement buildings, acquired from a vast area of east and central Alberta, are arranged by chronological periods of pioneer development and structural types.  It will make more sense when you get there.  In hindsight, I would recommend one of the guided tours included in the price of admission.  During our afternoon visit there are people on walking and horse-drawn wagon tours.  Apparently, if you place a child on a horse-drawn wagon, there is a good possibility of a mile-wide smile.  On our right the Bellis Home Grain Company Elevator (circa 1925-1930) soars into the sky.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

To the left, a view of the marsh-bordered shore of Goose Lake from the Causeway at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Off to the right an old grain elevator rises into the sky from the marsh-lined shore of Goose Lake at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Past the Causeway and over the railroad tracks, the Townsite (1925-1930) commercial or community support structures dominate the landscape.  Mel and I hang a left past the old Alberta Lumber Company Office to observe work underway in the Demchuk Blacksmith Shop.  At the high point above surrounding building is the visually striking Saint Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox ChurchThere are four functional churches on the property.  Escorted entry may be provided on guided tours.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Commercial and community support buildings on the other side of the railroad tracks in Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Demchuk Blacksmith Shop to the left of the Alberta Lumber Company building in the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Canadian National Railway Station and the Grain Elevator were relocated from the east-central hamlet of Bellis and now reside at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church behind the Radway Postmaster’s Garage at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek orthodox Church (circa 1925-1930) at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

At the Demchuk Blacksmith Shop, a young man is forging a large closed ring for one of the harness structures on the horse drawn carriages.  The shop is well equipped with all  tools of the trade for the era.  The pungent, pleasant odor of the superheated forge, fed by hand operated, mechanical bellows, permeates the shop.  Behind the blacksmith’s shop, which serves the real needs of this pioneer community, is the similarly functional Woodworking Shop where another live demonstration is underway using completely authentic and manual woodworking tools.  Buildings to the south of the blacksmith’s shop are either under construction or locked, except for guided tours, so Mel and I walk past the Demchuk House towards the impressive St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church at the top of the hill.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Demchuk Blacksmith Shop at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Work underway at the Demchuk Blacksmith Shop at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Demchuk Blacksmith Shop at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Woodworking Shop at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beautiful wildflowers accent the Demchuk House behind the Demchuk Blacksmith Shop on the road to St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Wostock Hardware Store is across the street from the north facing entrance to St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church.  Further up the road at the west perimeter of the village, Hewko House is under development near the Chernochan Machine  Shed and the Kitt Threshing Machine Shed.  The photographic potential here is huge.  South sun into the camera compromises my attempt at capturing a horse-drawn plow tilling soil in front of false-fronted Kew Hall.  All the good light is on the other side of the horses.  Mel and I continue north on the road past the Luzan Grocery, (store at the front, dwelling at the back), and the Luzan Post Office to the predominantly Farmstead section featuring pioneer structures circa 1900 to 1919.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The north-facing front of St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Wostok Hardware Store across the street from the entrance to St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Hewko House is under development near the Chernochan Machine Shed (circa 1925-1930) at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Kitt Threshing Machine Shed occupies the photo right foreground.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A horse-drawn plow tilling the field in front of Kew Hall at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Luzan Grocery with the Luzan Post Office in the background at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Right away we encounter the pigsty with the Slemko Barn behind.  Near the Slemko Barn there is a tall, unusual cross at roadside which puzzles us.  It appears to be a normal cross with an extra slanted cross beam added at a lower level.  It is the only feature I do not photograph.  Later, I discover it is a roadside shrine.  It would be interesting to hear the story behind it.  I have titled the following building names as accurately as possible but my confidence is less than 100%.  Apologies, if necessary.  The experience is fascinating.  It is like travelling back a hundred years in time.  All the sights, sounds and odors belong to rural pioneer life.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The pigsty and the Slemko Barn at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Slemko Barn at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Lakusta Barn at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Lakusta Granary with the Hlus Chicken Coop in the background at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A horse-drawn carriage passing the Grekul Barn at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Lakusta Granary at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Grekul Barn at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Lakusta Granary at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Possibly a long lens view of the Hlus Chicken Coop at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Grekul House at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A working clay oven (traditional pich) is an interesting feature among the relocated and restored pioneer buildings.  It is amazing to time travel like this on a gorgeous day with a light breeze to buffer the warmth of the sun.  On the return side of the loop through the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, we encounter a burdei beside a large, immaculate, vegetable garden with sporadically placed flowers, probably sympathetic partners to reduce disease and infestation naturally.  I have a feeling the people who look after this garden have forgotten more about horticulture than I will ever know.  A burdei is a shelter with half of the structure beneath ground level and a roof above ground.  This one has plants growing tall in the sod roof.  A metal stovepipe sticks out from the top.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A traditional pich (clay oven) at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Rozwiyczuk Granary at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Makowichuk Barn at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Old wagon providing shade for the chickens at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A black sheep at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A Burdei adjacent to an immaculately kept garden at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Cool, sheltered forest trail leads from the burdei, used by newly arrived immigrants (circa 1900), to the back of the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.  The pristine church resides in a field of tall grass competing with densely populated wildflowers.  A short walk down the church entrance road reveals the other side of the Bellis Home Grain Company Elevator which greeted the beginning of our walk.  Across the road from the grain elevator is the Andrew Alberta Provincial Police Post.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A pleasant forest walk between the burdei and the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Back at the other side of the Bellis Home Grain Co. Elevator in the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Andrew Alberta Provincial Police Post at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Andrew Alberta Provincial Police Post at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Walking towards the Bellis Canadian National Railway Station, there is an excellent view uphill to the Hilliard Hotel.  Walking along the railroad tracks provides an excellent look at the detail of the Bellis Canadian National Railway Station.  All the buildings are kept true to their original décor and furnishings.  A lot of dedicated people have done a good job of creating and maintaining this special historical village.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Hilliard Hotel at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A front view of the Bellis Canadian National Railway Station at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A last look back at pioneer building beyond the marsh-lined shoreline of Goose lake at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Returning across the Causeway over Goose Lake to Visitor Reception at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Brilliantly colored planters at the Visitor Reception Centre at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

As Mel and I leave the Visitor Reception Area for ice cream at Food Services in the ‘Silska Domiwka’ Hospitality Centre, I notice two buildings we missed on the way in.  Mel proceeds to ice cream while I check out the overlooked properties.  The first is Yurko House and the second larger property is Hawreliak House which hosts a large, fenced chicken coop.  As I approach, all the chickens race over to the corner closest to me.  I feel badly I have no chicken feed to share with them.  Fond memories of Scoudouc in New Brunswick.  On my way to join Mel for ice cream, I pass the bust of Dr. Jósef Olesków and the Centennial Pioneer Monument.  Really focussed on ice cream now, I pass by the formidable structure first seen at arrival.  Just for the record, I made a little joke about it being called `Muster Point`.  It is Pylypow House, and it is the muster point for groups to meet for activities.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Yurko House at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Hawreliak House at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Either very friendly or starving chickens at Hawreliak House in the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Centennial Pioneer Monument at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Pylypow House at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It is NOT called `Muster Point`.

On this visit, Mel and I did not get it all done.  On a subsequent visit there are other buildings and features to explore.  I would be inclined to take a guided tour for background and history.  There is an excellent Online Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village Guided Tour in English and Ukrainian for those who might be interested.  For information on special events, reference Ukrainian Village and for other upcoming events reference Friends of the Ukrainian Village.

The Ukrainian people have made a significant contribution to the development of Canada and, for that, they deserve a lot of credit and appreciation.  I would be remiss if I did not mention there is also evidence of poor treatment towards some Ukrainian people.  A historic marker for the Castle Mountain World War 1 Internment Camp can be found at a memorial along Highway 1a west of Castle Junction in Banff National Park and another internment camp is documented on interpretive panels at Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park.

Photographs for this post about the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village were captured on Monday, July 14, 2014 east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Posted in Easy Hikes, Edmonton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaver Pond Trail – Elk Island NP – Hiking Alberta

This short trip to Edmonton is preparation for a more aggressive mission later in the summer.  Our second trip to Elk Island National Park is a half hour drive east on the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16) from north-east Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our previous visitlast fall, experienced Bison Loop Road and the Living Waters Boardwalk hike along the shore of Astotin Lake.  This relatively small national park is very unique and unusually vibrant with a diverse and fascinating range of life.  Elk Island is the only National Park in Canada which is completely fenced for the preservation, protection and expansion of the world’s bison population.  Important.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Petunias on Mel’s back deck in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail is an easy 3.5 KM (2.2 mile) hike on relatively level path.  Mel and I turn left (north) off Yellowhead Highway to enter and drive north on the Elk Island Parkway, past the Astotin Lake Recreation Area entrance, to clearly-signed parking at the Beaver Pond trailhead.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The entrance, off Yellowhead Highway, to Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A family of geese pond side along Elk Island Parkway in Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The trail is an easy walk, initially on a short stretch of old, narrow and well-worn pavement to a tiny, open area containing informative interpretive plaques about this important resource which helped sustain the indigenous population for many centuries before the Palliser Expedition, between 1857 and 1860, opened the wealth of the area to commerce in fur trading.  Paved trail migrates to gravel intermittently interrupted by carpets of grass adjacent to marsh and spectacular ponds created by a robust beaver population.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trailhead at Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The trailhead sign at Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Click on the image to enlarge for reading, then on the browser back button to return to the post.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Initially, paved path into dense forest on Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Interpretive plaques near the beginning of Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Old platform bridge with water flow control along Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail through aspen forest, dense trailside shrubbery and wildflowers in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The air is alive with insects whose flight is compromised by a light breeze.  Mosquitoes detect our presence but their attack is countered by legions of golden dragonflies who swarm and devour the mosquitoes while inadvertently serving as our defenders.  This special environment is thriving with activity in a diverse, complete and natural ecosystem.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Gravel path through dense shrubbery under aspen forest on Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Slightly higher ground surrounded by marshland and ponds in Beaver Pond Trail at Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

One of hundreds of beaver dams pokes above the surface of a trailside pond along Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Spectacular wildflower beauty, up close and personal, along Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The aroma is wonderful.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Trailside shrubbery is often taller than we are along Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Sun reflection at the edge of ponds which encroach near Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Beaver Pond Trail hike is a grand scenic and aromatic forest walk through intermittent marsh land.  Scenery is spectacular and the short loop returns too quickly to remarkable views experienced on the access link.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A beaver pond adjacent to Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Mel on a grassy section of Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Occasionally, Beaver Pond Trail travels through tall, dense and lush vegetation which encroaches on the trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

This golden dragonfly, one of our defenders, rests in the sun on Alberta`s official flower, the Wild Rose, along Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A familiar view on the return along Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Back at the interpretive plagues near the beginning of Beaver Pond Trail in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The 3.5 KM (2.2 mile) Beaver Pond Trail is relatively flat on gentle terrain with minor elevation accumulated by transition over small, minor hills created by ancient glacial knobs and kettles or long abandoned beaver dams.  There is a great sense of timelessness here formed by generations of natural activity adapting to changes in the environment.  Following this short, energetic and oxygen saturated experience, Mel and I drive the short distance to Astotin Lake for an excellent picnic lunch at the very popular Sandy Beach.  A polite and patient seagull occupies the adjacent picnic table.  Kayakers are assembling gear and departing from the small Astotin Lake dock.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Marsh at the shoreline of the sandy beach on Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A seagull poses on our picnic table at Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A seagull poses on our picnic table at Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A seagull occupies our picnic table as we leave Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

On the short drive to our next experience at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage VillageMel and I stop along Elk Island Parkway for photographs at a roadside marsh and pond containing unique and beautiful wetland flowers near an active beaver dam.

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Wetland plants along Elk Island Parkway in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Pond Trail, Elk Island National Park, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

A beaver dam in a pond adjacent to Elk Island Parkway in Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The unique and mesmerizing beauty of this place never lets up.

Photographs for this post at Elk Island National Park were taken on July 14, 2014.

Posted in Easy Hikes, Edmonton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chephren Lake – Banff National Park – Hiking Alberta

Chephren Lake is a shorter, easier and more civilized hike with a different reward than Cirque Lake delivers.  The clearly-signed entrance into Waterfowl Lakes Campground is north of Bow Summit/Peyto Lake and south of Mistaya Canyon along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, CanadaImmediately after turning into the campground, a quick left turn leads to a cul-de-sac at the end of the road with parking for the Chephren Lake (and Cirque Lake) trailhead.  There is a half kilometre (0.3 mile ) gentle, downhill hike, along the south and west periphery of the campground, to the Chephren Lake trail kiosk at the end of the bridges crossing the Mistaya River.  I am not concerned.  My hiking guide and Gem Trek map clearly document this as the location of the shared trailhead to Chephren Lake (and also Cirque Lake).  It all works out.  Life is good.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Views of glaciated mountain peak above forest at the trailhead near Waterfowl Lakes Campground along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Glaciers over mountains on the trail to Chephren Lake near Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The Chephren Lake trailhead kiosk at Waterfowl Lakes Campground along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The long bridge over Mistaya River at the Chephren Lake trailhead near Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The hike begins by crossing two quaint, wooden foot bridges over the fast-running, turquoise water of the Mistaya River.  The hike to Chephren Lake contains two components of 1. 7 KM (1.1 miles) from parking to the trail junction and 2.2 KM (1.4 miles) from the trail junction to Chephren Lake for a total round trip distance of 7.8 KM (4.9 miles).  Net elevation gain is published as 90 m (295 ft.) to a maximum elevation of 1,760 m (5,775 ft.).  Gross elevation gain is higher.  Trail conditions include roots and sections of marshy terrain.  This is an exceptional and very popular, short, easy hike.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The Chephren Lake trail ramps onto level trail through dense forest near Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

A series of platform and log bridge help to navigate marshy sections on the Chephren Lake trail near Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The trail junction where the link meets the branch right to Chephren Lake near Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

At the link trail junction for Chephren Lake and Cirque Lake, the trail takes off to the right on reasonable, rooty, relatively flat trail through beautiful, dense forest.   There are marshy sections and occasional log bridges or stepping stones to help keep the feet dry.  Incredibly beautiful, aromatic path has a middle section where forest on the left (west) opens to spectacular mountain views over a pristine marsh and meadow.  Like a painting.  The delicacy must be seen to be believed.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Rooty, level trail heads northwest to Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Sawn log walkways keep feet try in muddy or marshy sections of Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mountain views on the Chephren Lake trail above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Log bridges over shallow streams on the trail to Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The occasional obstacle on the trail to Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

A left turn at this large tree leads a short distance to Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The trail is relatively flat with a short, moderate ascent near the end followed by a left turn at the large tree and a short distance to the brief, but steep, descent at Chephren Lake.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Beginning the short, steep descent at Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Approaching the shoreline of Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The log jam at the outflow from Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The visual impact at shoreline is stunning.  The detail of delicate plant life along the shore is separated, in stark contrast to the powerful presence of 3,266 m (10,715 ft.) Mount Chephren on the far west side, by the nearly 2 KM (1.2 mile) long, milky, emerald lake.  Glaciated flanks of majestic Howse Peak tower over glacier fed waterfalls and a perfectly pyramidal lateral moraine at the far end of the lake.  A mild breeze neutralizes the warmth of intermittent sun and occasional cloud dances across and accentuates the incredible features of this place.  The vision and sounds embrace and feed my soul.  WOW!  I take many, many photographs and somewhat of a miserable excuse of a video.  No camera or talent of mine is any match for capturing this phenomenal vista.  You need to stand here and turn your head with all senses on full alert.  A few of the photographs follow.  WOW!

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mount Chephren towers over the log jam at the north end of Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Glaciated Howse Peak rises above the far end Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mount Chephren over the turquoise water of Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Cloud frames sun on the far end of Chephren Lake and driftwood provides accent above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Exquisite beauty!

The trail continues south along the lakeshore.  My chosen alternative is to sit on a flat rock and enjoy my lunch in the presence of this incredible beauty.  Soon, a very pleasant couple from London, England join me and we share conversation.  During this time, a sleek, white and tan colored river otter ventures onto the log jam, then scampers over the driftwood in short spurts to the far side of the lake before entering the water.  Our eyes are locked on the creature.  It is a good experience.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Driftwood at Chephren Lake shoreline above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Sun highlights the glacier, waterfalls and moraine at the far end of Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The trail continues south along the lake shore towards the moraine, glacier and waterfalls. These appear small but, when compared to the 18.3 to 24.4 m (60 to 80 ft.) tall, evergreen trees nearby, they are relatively large.  I am sorely tempted to hike down there but I will leave that extended mission for younger legs and allow the long lens of the camera to reach out for a better look.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The snowfields and small glaciers feed large waterfalls near the triangular moraine and tall evergreen trees at the far end of Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. WOW!

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

A long lens closer look at the glacier, waterfalls and lateral moraine at Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Prior to leaving, I capture many more photos then reluctantly climb the short, steep slope to hike the Chephren Lake trail in the opposite direction.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

A final look at the log jam at Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

One final look south along Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Hiking the reverse through mixed, dense forest from Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

On the return along Chephren Lake trail there are occasional, excellent mountain views to the west (right) above pristine marsh and meadows.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mountain views over meadows and marsh along Chephren Lake trail above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mountain views over meadows and marsh along Chephren Lake trail above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mountain views over meadows and marsh along Chephren Lake trail above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The final leg of the hike continues over familiar terrain to the trail junction, where Cirque Lake and Chephren Lake trails meet the link trail to Waterfowl Lakes Campground.   The hike to Chephren Lake is 2.6 KM (1.63 miles) on easy, decent quality but rooty trail.  The distance for combining both hikes (which is what I have done this day) is about 13.6 KM (8.5 miles).  A left turn onto the link trail will continue the descent back to the bridges over Mistaya River and ultimately the beginning trailhead at the parking area for hikers.

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Root on the trail to Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The final descent to Mistaya River from Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Mount Noyes past the wooden bridges over Mistaya River on the return from Chephren Lake above Waterfowl Lakes along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Back to the trailhead Kiosk from the hike to Chephren Lake near Waterfowl Lakes Campground along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Chephren Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The car at trailhead parking near Waterfowl Lakes Campground along Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

This has been an excellent hiking day.  Chephren Lake is easy-access and representative of hundreds of pristine, turquoise, sub-alpine lakes resting beneath magnificent glaciated mountains in Banff National Park.  Each has unique features and beauty but every one I have visited has improved my life and left me awestruck.  All seem too beautiful to be real.  The senses are mellowed and appreciative of the effort to get out there.  The spirit soars.  Chephren Lake grants an advantage by allowing easy access to enjoy magnificent, powerful and peaceful beauty.  Suggesting you get out there on a fair weather weekday.

Photographs and video for this hike were captured on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

Posted in Banff, Easy Hikes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments