On the ski hills, on the bike trails, and thru life in general

Red Willow Trail

Living in St. Albert, I take the opportunity to cycle on the Red Willow multi-use trail on a frequent basis. This relatively short trail, only about 7.5 km from end to end, runs parallel to the Sturgeon river from the northeast to southwest boundaries of the city. The trail also runs on both sides of the river as it travels through the city core, from the Boudreau bridge to the Children’s bridge past St. Albert Place. The most pleasant part of the trail, in my estimation, is south of the railway trestle, leaving the built-up areas behind (or at least hidden by trees) as it enters flood plain and forest on the way to Big Lake. Because it passes right through the centre of the city and has many side trails branching off into other neighbourhoods, it is not only a recreational trail but serves as a popular route for anyone wanting to go downtown or to the various amenities along the way. It is direct and convenient and heavily used by cyclists, walkers, joggers, strollers, inline skaters, BMX’ers, skateboarders – basically anyone propelled by muscle power. Interacting with all these different modes of transportation can be challenge sometimes, especially dealing with the morons who don earbuds, tune out the world around them, and then blithely meander down the centre of the trail oblivious to anything except the amplified sounds echoing around their empty braincases. But I digress…

I live off the northern part of the trail and my usual access point is by the botanical gardens. I always ride all the way out to Big Lake, even if I am only going to the library or Farmer’s Market in town. The view off the platform overlooking the lake is very peaceful, as is the walk along the Poole wetland boardwalk, and you never know what sort of wildlife will be out there (of the non-human variety). The ride along the trail is usually scenic and serene, earbuttheads notwithstanding. A good portion of it has recently been repaved too, making it even smoother now.

Here are some pictures from various rides this past month.

The leaves are starting to fall. Nice fresh paving!

Entering the “populated” area from the south, just north of the trestle bridge.

In the flood plain area

Approaching the trestle bridge from the south.

Sturgeon River, looking south from the pedestrian bridge by St. Albert Centre. The water has been especially high and clear this year from all the rain in June and July.

Sturgeon River looking north from the Ray Gibbon bridge. Looks almost like a real river!

The viewing platform on Big Lake. Usually a nice contemplative place.

Big Lake, looking south from the platform. Note the heron in the middle of the picture.

Big Lake (different day from the previous photo), looking west from the platform.

The Poole wetland boardwalk, about 100 metres from the Big Lake viewing platform. Another peaceful place to watch waterfowl and contemplate life.

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On the ski hills, on the bike trails, and thru life in general

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