River Valley Park System
One of the first things you’ll notice about Edmonton is its large amount of parkland. The city has more land set aside for parks, per capita, than any other city in Canada. Most parks interconnect along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River and in adjoining ravines, encompassing 7,400 hectares (18,300 acres) and comprising the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America.
Within these parks are picnic areas, swimming pools, historic sites, golf courses, and many kilometers of walking and biking trails. One of the larger individual parks is William Hawrelak Park, west of the university along Groat Road. A one-way road loops through the park, circling a lake with paddleboats and fishing, passing many quiet picnic areas and an outdoor amphitheater that hosts a wide range of summer events.
The River Valley Park System provides ample opportunity for cross-country skiing. More than 75 kilometers (47 miles) of trails are groomed from December to early March. The most popular areas are in William Hawrelak Park, up Mill Creek Ravine, and through Capilano Park. The Kinsmen Sports Centre (780/944-7400) has cross-country ski rentals; $12 for two hours, or $18 per day, including boots and poles.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition