With its vista river views, winding trails, scenic footbridges and interspersed parks, the North Saskatchewan River Valley is a breathtaking location to do a workout. There’s no shortage of ways to get active in this beautiful setting in both summer and winter – and as the local organization that’s working hard to connect you to the river valley through trails, boat docks and other access points, we wanted to connect you with some of our favourite ways to enjoy it when the mercury drops.
Give these activities, outfitters and clubs a try and you just might find your new favourite winter workout in the river valley.
Clubs and Groups
There are a few groups who operate year-round for scheduled active outings in the river valley, either for free or with a nominal membership charge.
Edmonton Trail Runners
The Edmonton Trail Runners spend 90% of their time exploring the river valley trails, with weekly group running activities that are free for everyone regardless of age or ability. “Edmonton’s river valley trails bring people together outside, attracting adventurers of every pace,” says founder Sheryl Savard.
They also organize two ultra races per year; the Canadian River Valley Revenge has a winter edition in January and summer race in June.
Rain or shine or freeze or 1000 below zero, the November Project is waiting for you. This free fitness group meets three times a week for early morning workouts and runs no matter the weather. With a philosophy of “just show up”, they pride themselves on being #weatherproof and embracing Edmonton’s winter with a can-do attitude.
Edmonton Outdoor Club
If you’re looking for more variety with your winter activities while meeting great people, look no further than the Edmonton Outdoor Club. They have regular outdoor meetups in the wintertime such as hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, as well as social events. It’s free to become a member—simply check the calendar of upcoming events and sign up for what interests you (some activities have a nominal charge). “The Edmonton Outdoor Club is all about bringing people together to enjoy and protect the environment while sharing outdoor knowledge and experiences that encourage a healthy and fun lifestyle and inspire a love of the outdoors,” says club president Mark Gibbons. “And really, what better playground to do that in than the North Saskatchewan River Valley?”
Outfitters and tours
Whether you lack the gear or are new to a winter sport, the following outfitters have you covered with tours, lessons, guided programs and rentals.
River Valley Programs
The City of Edmonton’s River Valley Programs provides outdoor recreation programs and lessons for groups and the general public. In winter, choose from their selection of snowshoeing tours or cross country skiing lessons, with equipment included for both. These programs tailor to seniors, adults and families alike.
Haskin Canoe Snowshoe Tours
In summertime, Haskin Canoe operates a rental shack for paddlers at Elk Island National Park. In winter, not only do they offer snowshoe rentals at Elk Island, they also do guided snowshoe tours in the Edmonton river valley. Snowshoeing may look easy, but it’s actually a great cardio workout that builds strength, agility and balance. Join an existing tour, or book a private event for your family and friends.
River Valley Adventure Co
Not interested in getting snow on your boots? Try a winter segway tour from River Valley Adventure Co! Enjoy the river valley scenery as you never have before, and without too much effort.
With their office located in the river valley near Louise McKinney park, River Valley Adventure Co. is also a great place to rent snowshoes for your independent adventures.
Fun for the whole family, skating is especially scenic in the river valley. Skate the lantern-lit iceways at Victoria Park and Rundle Park if you have your own gear, or head to Hawrelak Park to rent a pair. Skating works every muscle group in the body and when you’ve got calming river valley views to look at, it’s a good stress reliever too.
The steep hills and ravines of the river valley make for a good alternative for downhill skiing when the mountains are too far to go. There are a few options for ski clubs spread out through the Edmonton area, meaning you can get your ski fix and quad burn on with just a quick trip. Most offer lessons and rentals as well if you’re new to the sport. River valley ski areas include Rabbit Hill Resort, Snow Valley, Edmonton Ski Club and Sunridge Ski Area.
The River Valley Alliance has a variety of pre-scoped hiking and running routes in the river valley – otherwise known as Trail Trek How-Tos. So if you need a little help figuring out a route to try, check these out for some inspiration.
Of course, even for Edmontonians, there can be such a thing as “too cold to go outside.” If you do venture outdoors for your winter workout in a polar vortex, make sure you’ve got the right gear and clothing so you’re not putting yourself at risk. Stay warm, and when you do make it outside, remember to share your winter river valley adventures on social media with the hashtag #trekthetrails to inspire others to also make the most of our winter season in the river valley!