River Access Trail is a short, easy and scenic hike in Police Point Park, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.
Following the walking tour of Historic Clay District, the bridge over South Saskatchewan River leads intuitively, on this heavily overcast day, to a right turn onto Parkview Drive NE heading aggressively uphill past the Medicine Hat Golf Course and Country Club to a well-signed right turn onto Police Point Drive and through subdivision to the entrance for Police Point Park. A short distance further, parking on the left provides obvious access to the trail-head for the short 1.5 KM (⅞ mile) and easy River Access Trail.
Well-groomed and maintained crushed red brick trail curls past and through dense and diverse brush and forest on the gentle decline past outdoor picnic facility to the north shoreline of the formidable and beautiful South Saskatchewan River.
Police Point Park is 97.7 hectares (241 acres) of natural reserve on a delta and peninsula at the pregnant bend in the South Saskatchewan River. The opposite side of the river hosts hiking trails and additional amenities at the more urban and developed Strathcona Island Park.
As the groomed trail turns right, away from the straight stretch along the river, it becomes increasingly obvious there are multiple trail opportunities that intersect with the River Access Trail. Substantial diversity along the trail, which includes an eclectic mixture of variety in grassland, shrubbery and mature forest, creates an interesting hike with multiple photo opportunities. Damp weather accentuates the rich and fragrant odor of sagebrush within this multiple sensory experience.
At the intersection of the River Walk Trail with an additional right-angle component, views of majestic cliffs in the distance demand a route adjustment to hike towards this spectacular feature. The new crushed red brick (shale) component leads to connections heading north and east through a wide variety of terrain until the shale trail meets paved trail.
Expanding views of majestic cliffs continue to motivate the hike towards them. The mildly inclement weather, during mid-daytime hours, provides the unique opportunity to enjoy the hike without evidence of other people. This experience is a special gift.
Only elapsed time truncates continued progress and dictates a sensible return to parking. This outstanding park offers a diverse variety of unique sights and a second hike will be mandatory on another day. The trail map for Police Point Park indicates paved trail of 2.2 KM and shale trail consuming 5.3 KM for a total of 7.5 KM but good quality and less documented gravel trail likely expands the opportunity to at least double and possibly triple that figure. There is significant and unique hiking opportunity here.
Intuitive return routing under heavily overcast skies leads back to the parking area. The vehicle left alone in the parking area remains alone. This hike in Police Point Park has been a treasured solo effort which offered a grand introduction to an historic area worthy of further investigation.
Photographs for this preliminary hike along the River Access Trail in Police Point Park at the major South Saskatchewan River bend were captured in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada on the afternoon of Thursday, September 14, 2017.