Top 10 Trails in Wood Buffalo National Park
Welcome to Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada's largest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And let me tell you, this place is bigger than my ego after a few too many compliments.
But size isn't everything, and this park has a lot to offer, especially if you're into hiking. With over 2,400 km of trails, Wood Buffalo National Park has more hiking options than a picky toddler at a buffet.
In this blog post, we'll be sharing the top 10 trails in Wood Buffalo national park, complete with difficulty ratings and insider tips. Whether you're an experienced hiker or a beginner who thinks "trail mix" is just a bag of M&Ms, we've got something for you.
So, buckle up those hiking boots and get ready for a wild ride. But don't worry, we promise not to make any bear jokes (they're unbearable anyway).
1. Salt River Day Use Area Trail
Length: 1.1 km (one way)
Let's start with a trail that's as easy as getting out of bed on a Sunday morning (well, at least for some of us). The Salt River Day Use Area Trail is perfect for beginners or those who just want to take a stroll through the park.
Along the trail, you'll encounter a mix of forests and wetlands, as well as the scenic Salt River. Keep your eyes peeled for beavers, otters, and a variety of bird species, as they often make their homes in the area.
But don't let the easy rating fool you. This trail still offers plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with nature. Just be sure to bring bug spray, as the mosquitoes can be as relentless as an ex who won't take a hint.
Pro-tip: Pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing lunch by the river. Just be sure to clean up after yourself and avoid feeding the wildlife. Remember, they have their diets to stick to!
2. Pine Lake Trail
Length: 2.2 km (loop)
If you're looking for a hike that's easy peasy lemon squeezy, then the Pine Lake Trail is the perfect pick for you. This 2.2 km loop (located near Pine Lake campground) takes you through a forested area that's so peaceful, you might forget that you're even in the wild. That is until you spot a moose and realize that you're not in Kansas anymore.
But fear not! Moose may be cute and fluffy, but they can also be as dangerous as a hangry toddler. So, be sure to keep a safe distance and avoid any sudden movements.
The real highlight of this trail is Pine Lake itself. With its crystal-clear water and picturesque mountain backdrop, it's like something out of a postcard. And if you're feeling brave, take a dip in the lake to cool off. Just be warned, the water can be as cold as your ex's heart.
Pro-tip: Don't forget to take the short side trail to the lookout point for an even better view of the lake. And if you're feeling lucky, pack a fishing rod and try your hand at catching some trout. Just don't be surprised if the fish turn out to be as elusive as a unicorn.
3. Bison Loop Trail
Length: 5.5 km (loop)
If you're up for a hike that's more challenging than finding a needle in a haystack, then the Bison Loop Trail is for you. This 5.5 km loop takes you through the heart of the park, where you'll get to see the majestic bison in their natural habitat. Just don't get too close - these guys can be as grumpy as a bear with a hangover.
Aside from the bison, the trail takes you through a variety of different landscapes, from wide-open plains to dense forests. You might even spot some other wildlife along the way, like wolves, foxes, and bears (oh my!). If you see a bear, don't panic - just remember that you don't have to be the fastest hiker, you just have to be faster than your slowest hiking buddy.
But seriously, safety first - always keep a safe distance from the wildlife and follow the park's guidelines. And if you're feeling extra paranoid, bring some bear spray just in case.
The Bison Loop Trail is one of the longer hikes in the park, so be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. And if you're feeling ambitious, pack a tent and spend the night at one of the park's backcountry campsites.
4. Salt Plains Trail
Length: 3.6 km (one-way)
Feeling salty? Then you'll love the Salt Plains Trail, a 3.6 km one-way hike through Wood Buffalo National Park's famous salt flats. And don't worry, there won't be any salty attitudes on this trail - it's one of the easiest hikes in the park!
As you walk along the trail, you'll feel like you're on the set of a science fiction movie, with salt crystals crunching beneath your feet and strange geological formations towering overhead. Just make sure to wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots - the salt crystals can be as sharp as a teenager's wit.
And while you might be tempted to lick the ground for a quick salt fix, let me just remind you that this is not a G-rated hike. Seriously, keep it PG and save your tastebuds for a nice meal back at camp.
If you're lucky enough to hike the Salt Plains Trail on a clear day, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. And who knows, you might even stumble upon some hidden salt caves or ancient salt formations, which are as mysterious and awe-inspiring as a magician's trick.
So bring your sense of adventure and your thirst for salty knowledge, and get ready for a hike that's anything but bland.
5. Buffalo Paddock Trail
Length: 5.5 km (loop)
Are you ready to hang out with the cool kids of Wood Buffalo National Park? Then head on over to the Buffalo Paddock Trail, where you'll get to rub shoulders (well, not literally) with some of the park's most popular residents - the bison.
But don't get too excited - these bison may look cute and cuddly, but they're wild animals and should be treated with the utmost caution and respect. Keep a safe distance from the herd and resist the urge to give them a high-five or a fist bump, as tempting as it may be.
As you walk the Buffalo Paddock Trail, you'll get to enjoy some of the most beautiful views in the park, from the rolling hills to the sparkling rivers to the towering mountains. It's like Instagram comes to life, but without the filters and the influencers (well, hopefully).
And if you manage to snap a photo of a bison during your hike, consider yourself lucky - these creatures are like the A-list celebrities of Wood Buffalo National Park. Just remember to keep your camera steady and your wits about you, as these guys can be unpredictable (think Kanye West, but with fur).
In short, the Buffalo Paddock Trail is a must-do hike for anyone who wants to experience the best of Wood Buffalo National Park. Just make sure to keep it cool around the wild bison, and you'll have a blast.
6. Paradise Valley Trail
Length: 9.8 km (one-way)
Want to test your limits and your selfie-taking skills? Then the Paradise Valley Trail is the hike for you. This 9.8 km one-way trail will take you on a wild journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Wood Buffalo National Park, from majestic mountains to crystal-clear streams to some serious Rocky Balboa-style staircases.
But don't let the moderate difficulty level fool you - this trail can be a real pain in the glutes (and not in a good way). You'll need to bring your A-game (and some snacks) to make it to the end without collapsing like a soggy burrito.
Along the way, you might encounter some of the park's wildlife, including black bears, wolves, and moose. Don't worry, though - as long as you don't try to take a selfie with them or challenge them to a dance-off, you should be just fine.
As you hike through Paradise Valley, you'll also get to see some of the park's most iconic landmarks, including the famous Salt Plains (where the bison go to get their spa on) and the stunning Paradise Valley (where you go to get your "this is why I hike" moment).
And if you're lucky enough to be on the trail during the fall season, you'll get to see the park's beautiful autumn colours in all its glory. It's like Mother Nature decided to do a photo shoot and you get to be the model (just make sure you bring your good side).
Overall, the Paradise Valley Trail is a must-do hike for anyone who wants to test their physical and mental endurance, get some killer views, and maybe even make a new animal friend (just don't ask for their phone number).
7. Sambaa Deh Falls Trail
Length: 1 km (loop)
If you're looking for a trail that's as refreshing as a cold beer on a hot day, then the Sambaa Deh Falls Trail is your jam. This 6.8 km one-way trail is like a breath of fresh air - if that air was scented with pine trees and sasquatch sightings.
Starting at the Sambaa Deh Falls Campground, the trail takes you on a stroll through the kind of scenery that makes you want to burst into a song like Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music." You'll see the majestic Sambaa Deh Falls, which are so impressive they might just make you forget that you're lost in the woods and your GPS isn't working.
But don't worry, you're not alone out here. The Sambaa Deh Falls Trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, beavers, and the elusive sasquatch. Keep your eyes peeled, folks - you never know when you might catch a glimpse of a hairy, bipedal creature that defies all scientific explanation.
The real highlight of this trail, though, is the chance to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Sambaa Deh Falls. It's like your own private swimming hole, except instead of chlorinated water and screaming kids, you've got pure, unadulterated nature and the sound of rushing water to soothe your soul.
Just be careful not to get too carried away with your skinny-dipping - we don't need any viral videos of park visitors getting swept away by the current. (Unless you're willing to split the ad revenue with us, in which case, have at it.)
8. Peace Point Trail
Length: 2.8 km (loop)
If you're in the mood for a trail that's more peaceful than a yoga retreat, then the Peace Point Trail is calling your name. This 2.8 km loop trail is like a journey through a postcard, with stunning views of the Peace-Athabasca Delta and the chance to spot some of the park's most iconic wildlife.
But don't let the name fool you - this trail can be a bit of a challenge. You'll navigate through dense forests, up steep inclines, and over rocky terrain that will make you feel like a mountain goat (or at least a mountain goat in hiking boots).
But the reward is worth it - the views from the top of the trail are nothing short of breathtaking. You'll feel like you're on top of the world (or at least on top of Wood Buffalo National Park), with panoramic vistas of the delta, the river, and the distant mountains that will make you forget all about your sore feet and your grumbling stomach.
And speaking of stomachs, don't forget to pack a picnic lunch for this trail - there are plenty of scenic spots to stop and refuel along the way. Just watch out for the park's infamous mosquito population - they're like tiny vampires that will suck the blood right out of you (or at least make you itch like crazy).
9. Caribou Creek Trail
Length: 2.4 km (one way)
If you're looking for a trail that's short, sweet, and oh-so-satisfying, then the Caribou Creek Trail is the one for you. This easy 2.4 km trail takes you on a stroll through some of the park's most picturesque landscapes, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
The trail follows the path of a tranquil creek, which provides a soothing soundtrack as you walk. You'll feel like you're in a nature documentary as you spot birds, butterflies, and maybe even a moose or two (if you're lucky).
But don't be fooled by the trail's easy rating - there are still a few surprises in store. You'll encounter a few steep inclines and rocky sections that will make you feel like you're on an episode of Survivor. But don't worry - you'll emerge victorious and ready to take on the next challenge.
One of the highlights of this trail is the abundance of wildflowers that line the path. You'll see everything from delicate purple lupines to bright yellow daisies, and you might even be tempted to pick a few for a makeshift bouquet (just don't tell the park rangers).
And speaking of rangers, keep your eyes peeled for the occasional park employee who might be out on patrol. They're like the park's own version of Bigfoot - elusive, but always watching.
10. Wood Buffalo Trail
Length: 3.2 km (loop)
Last but certainly not least, we have the Wood Buffalo Trail - an absolute must-try for anyone who wants to fully immerse themselves in the grandeur of Wood Buffalo National Park. This 3.2 km loop offers a remarkable journey through some of the park's most awe-inspiring landscapes, which include pristine forests, rolling hills, and even a peaceful river.
The trail levels off and takes you on a winding journey through some of the park's most picturesque spots. You'll cross babbling brooks and navigate rocky outcroppings, all while experiencing the beauty of the park at your own pace.
As you approach the end of the trail, a stunning waterfall that cascades down into a deep pool awaits you - a breathtaking finale to your journey. It's the perfect spot to pause, catch your breath, take in the splendour of the park, and reflect on your unforgettable adventure.
So there you have it, the top 10 trails in Wood Buffalo National Park. Whether you're looking for a stroll or a challenging hike, there's something for everyone in this beautiful wilderness area. Just be sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, and a sense of adventure, and you're sure to have an unforgettable experience. Happy hiking!