Get on your bikes and ride! Or rollerblade, jog, canoe or take a carriage through Red Deer’s massive Waskasoo Park. Stop by the nature centre, visit an old fort, let puppy run off some energy at the off-leash dog park and much, much more. Here are our top 10 picks for what to do at Waskasoo.
1. If you are 3 to 5 years old, join the Nature Nursery at Kerry Wood Nature Centre – Running two mornings or two afternoons a week, this preschool program introduces little ones to nature through crafts, games, touch tables and lots of exploring outside. Too bad parents can’t come too, eh? (403.346.2010)
2. Date night at Heritage Ranch – You and your sweetie are cuddled under a blanket, watching the stars and drinking in the scenery. Romantic, right? Then follow that up with champagne, roses and an intimate dinner at the ranch. Best. Date night. Ever. (403.347.4977)
3. Walk and learn in Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary – Get your camera ready for deer and moose on the trails, check the ponds for water birds and a beaver lodge and read about the indigenous plants and animals that live here along the interpretive trails.
4. Cycle the Five Bridges loop – This trail along the river crosses five, count ‘em, five bridges – including an historic railway bridge – and takes you from Bower Ponds to the Kerry Woods Nature Centre. Find the route map at the Waskasoo trails website.
5. Take Spot rollerblading – Three Mile Bend is a 55 hectare off leash area with a dog training space. Tongue a-flappin’, tail high, good old Spotty can run, run, run, drink out of a puddle, make some new friends and then sleep all afternoon. In the winter, swap your blades for snowshoes and let puppy bounce through the snow.
6. Cross-country ski along the groomed trails at Great Chief Park – The trees look heavy under the sparkling snow that billows over the branches. You glide along over small rises and drops in the trail. Your cheeks flush with health and fresh air – thank you Waskasoo.
7. Picnic at Bower Ponds – Send the little ones over to try out the new playground, while you set up your picnic nearby. Then take a leisurely walk to explore the park’s public art and take a contemplative stroll through the serenity garden. In the winter, visit the pond for skating – if you forget your thermos of hot chocolate, you won’t go without – the concession is open from December to March.
8. Camp down by the river at the Lion’s Campground – Grab one of the 127 sites and get a game of horseshoes started already. The campground’s central location is great for hiking or biking through Waskasoo’s trail system or simply sitting a spell by the river and watching it float by. (403.342.8183)
9. Golf at Riverbend Golf Course – Bright sun, fresh air, green grass and you and a buddy are rounding the back nine. Could life get any better? How about a steak at the grill after? Yep – life is good. (tee times: 403.343.8311 )
10. Visit Fort Normandeau – Before the railway, travellers from North to South had to cross the Red Deer River at Fort Normandeau. Learn about life at the Fort through programs, exhibits and artefacts. This is also a great location to launch a canoe for an afternoon meander down the river. (403.347.7550)
Once you’ve tried all this – you’ll need a nap – but then check out this City of Red Deer park trails map for even more ideas!