Our canoe slips silently through the water as we glide past tall pine trees on the shoreline. The stroke of our paddles becomes smooth and relaxed as we find our rhythm. Lakeland Provincial Park, about 250 km (155 mi) northeast of Edmonton, rejuvenates the mind, body and soul. It’s a place to connect with nature, friends and family and to simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
For a memorable wilderness adventure, plan a multi-day paddling trip on the park’s backcountry canoe circuit and camp along the way. It's a great way to experience northern Alberta’s beauty and wildlife.
Lakeland Canoe Circuit
We’re on day two of our three-day 38 km (24 mi) circuit that will take us from Jackson Lake to Kinnaird, Blackett and McGuffin lakes. We’ve left most of our creature comforts behind and yet it somehow feels like home here. The park provides carts along the course, which makes portaging our canoe, gear and food much easier. Later, we’ll set up camp in one of the park’s 16 backcountry campsites. Most are equipped with a fire pit, picnic table, bear locker or pole – to keep our food away from the wildlife
Calm waters are typical for the area and allow for a relaxing paddle, which gives us ample time to enjoy the scenery and watch for wildlife. A family of grebes fishing, a bald eagle soaring from its nest in a tall poplar and a young deer drinking at the water’s edge are a few of our fortunate sightings thus far. I can’t help but wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Lakeland is a Wildlife Wonderland
Bird watching and wildlife spotting opportunities abound in Lakeland Provincial Park. The raw beauty of boreal forest, wilderness lakes and woodlands creates the perfect backdrop for wildlife photography and adventure outings. More than 230 species of birds spend their summers in the Lakeland area. Wolves, black bears, lynx, coyotes, moose and beavers live here year round. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you could catch one of these boreal forest residents in your viewfinder.
Morning Paddle on Moose Lake
If you’re new to paddling, or would prefer a shorter wilderness adventure, head to Moose Lake Provincial Park, about 154 km (96 mi) south of Lakeland Provincial Park. With its many bays and shallow marshy areas, it’s a great place for beginners. Paddle in the morning and then hike the park’s interpretive trails in the afternoon. Wildlife watching is exceptional here as well so keep a lookout for bear, moose, deer, waterfowl and songbirds. As it’s such beautiful place, I recommend making a weekend of it. Park your RV or pitch a tent at the Franchere Bay Provincial Recreation Area campsite on the west side of the lake and hike, paddle and play in one of the many lake country playgrounds.