Edmonton has the big, beautiful North Saskatchewan River winding right through the middle of it. The banks are steep and covered in a thick blanket of trees. Along the shore there are pathways to walk or cycle but riding on a Segway with River Valley Adventure Co. takes sightseeing to a whole new level.
A Novel Way to Travel
Suggesting a Segway tour to our friends was met with blank stares. I explained it as a cool two-wheeled motorised vehicle – think of a kid’s scooter on steroids with big rubber wheels – made for paved paths and pavements and perfectly safe. That did it. Time to try something new. A quick drive to Louise McKinney Park near the centre of the city had us at the rental shop ready for a ride.
Most of our group wanted to just jump on and go, but a short lesson on how to use the Segway was mandatory. Besides, one of us was just a little apprehensive – Deb admitted she was nervous just riding a bike so this might be out of her comfort zone.
Our instructor had us all stand with a Segway and start from the basics of stepping on, standing still, then stepping off. With computers and monitors sensing your shifting body, it continually works to keep you and the machine balanced.
As we navigated the mini course, the instructor could see Deb was still a bit apprehensive so he put her right behind him when we headed out on the pathway for our hour-long tour. Less than three minutes out and she was grinning from ear to ear.
Touring the TransCanada Trail
The pathways in the Edmonton River Valley are part of the TransCanada Trail – the longest continuous trail in the world. We started by winding through the Chinese Gardens then straight to the river. It was fun crossing the river on the wooden pedestrian bridge before heading into the trees of the Henrietta Muir-Edwards Park. The smell of the cool fresh forest made me forget we were in the middle of a bustling city. It was exhilarating to buzz effortlessly along the trail. It didn’t matter if we were going up or down, the Segway handled it all – and so did Deb!
We stopped a few times to admire the views and learn about Edmonton’s history and how the river was an important highway for the early fur traders and explorers. As we were leaving, a wedding party was setting up for a photo session. We considered lingering to photobomb but rolling back across the bridge was a better idea.
When our tour ended, it was Deb who wouldn’t get off her Segway and had us all laughing as she did loops around us. When we found out the tour is offered in winter, we promised to return to try a snowy trail.
Walk, Segway or Ride a Bike
Edmonton’s river valley is immense (7,400 hectares) and is steeped in folklore. The River Valley Adventure Co. also offers walking tours for anyone interested in a more relaxed pace through the valley – which happens to be the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America with 150 km (93 mi) of trails through 22 parks. Along the way, your guide will share stories about First Nations, Métis, the fur trade and the early days of Alberta’s capital city.