Cooking Lake - 
Grazing, Wildlife,
Provincial Recreation Area

Strathcona County, Alberta 

Guided Watchable Wildlife Outdoor Adventure Tours  Edmonton Alberta Canada Website

Blackfoot Maps


Blackfoot Society

Annual General Meeting

ThursdayMay 19, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

Waskehegan Staging Area

New to Edmonton … or have heard of Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Recreation Area but haven't gone there yet ? Then this tour is for you.
Friends of Blackfoot Society
What's on at Blackfoot
Cattle grazing has occurred in Blackfoot since the 1920's; the Blackfoot Grazing Association was  formed in 1948
A Sunday drive for bird watchers
A series of wildlife photos ...   taken in Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Recreation Area, Elk Island National Park and Jasper National Park
Blackfoot Links
Summer Trails Brochure
View this webpage in another language  !
Winter Trails Brochure


Bordering on dynamic Strathcona County, Cooking Lake - Blackfoot Grazing, Wildlife Provincial Recreation Area is a unique Alberta landscape ... 97 sq kms (37 sq miles) of backcountry, located directly south of and adjacent to the Elk Island National Park boundary, just 40 minutes east of Alberta's capital city.

The Blackfoot Forest Reserve was Canada's first, established in 1895.

Blackfoot Maps


Primary access to the Blackfoot is from the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway 16 north of the area, or from Wye Road to the south. County roads connect the staging areas to the highways.

This special natural area includes 170 kms (105 miles) of maintained walking, hiking, mountain biking, equestrian, nordic skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding trails for day use.

Please note overnight activities and camping are not available.

Wildlife viewing and bird watching opportunities are available year round in this multi-use area. Non-recreation activities include livestock grazing, trapping, aboriginal and seasonal hunting and some resource development.

There are 4 staging areas complete with all-weather shelters, and warm-up stoves, washrooms, fire pits and picnic facilities.

Hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, nature photographers, bird watchers, orienteers, snowshoers, x-country skiers, skaters, canoeists … discover Alberta's best kept secret … right in Edmonton's own backyard ... wwtg
Take a virtual hike in Canada's first forest reserve.
Alberta Fire Bans Information Take a Virtual Hike


An Unfolding History of Protection

Trekked by Cattlemen ... Rejected by Settlers ... Exploited for black gold ...

Now enjoyed by all !


Cooking Lake Forest Reserve

Major fires swept the Beaver Hills area between 1892 and 1895. The rash of prairie fires, some natural and others man-made, led to the setting aside of 6 townships in the Beaver Hills by the Canadian Government to protect the wood supply.


Wildlife Viewing

Blackfoot is home to a wide variety of wildlife, birds, plants and fauna call Blackfoot home. Mammals include moose, elk, mule and whitetail deer, coyote, beaver, foxes, muskrat, weasel, skunk and red squirrels.

One should also be alert to the possibility of observing or encountering bear, cougar, lynx and the odd wolf.



Wildlife Photography

Mammals, birds, flora, fauna and a variety of landscapes will challenge your photographic skills.




There are 19 trails to explore in Blackfoot, offering varying distances and degree of challenge. See the Summer Trails details. No horses on hiking trails please.

Ruffed Grouse


Bird Watching

Blackfoot is home to more than 200 species of birds. Most are migratory, either breeding in the area or passing through in Spring and Fall. A complete list of the Birds of Blackfoot is provided by the Friends of Blackfoot Society and is available at the Interpretive Centre located at the Waskehegan (RR 210) entrance.


Ultra Marathon

Each year Blackfoot hosts the Ultra Martathon, a four leg 25 kms per leg long distance cross country running event.


en plein air

En plein air is a French expression meaning "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting in the outside environment rather than indoors. Blackfoot provides some spectacular landscapes.


Aboriginal History

Blackfoot has a rich history in First Nations. This pristine backcountry area was a major hunting ground for the Sarcee, Cree and Blackfoot tribes. Alberta has much to offer the world with Aboriginal heritage by showcasing 10,000 years of tradition.



Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts can find nature and solitude on Islet Lake.


Mountain Biking

Like a mountain biking challenge ? Take Siksika trail and find out why Ultra Marathoners named it "death by a thousand hills". No riding on equestrian trails please.




Horseback Riding

There are 85 kms of equestrian trails available to riders; several fund raiser "Rides for Cancer" take place each year.

No horses on hiking trails please.


X-Country Skiing

The annual Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival is held on the 2nd Saturday every February. The "Birkie" is the largest x-country ski event in North America.

This event is one of three in the World. The original historic one in Lillehammer, Norway, the second largest in Hayward, Wisconsin and of course this one. This actual event is inspired by Norwegian Warriors. In 1206 they carried the little Prince Haakon travelling on skis wearing birch bark leggings. They travelled 55km to safety over mountain terrain in the dead of winter to save him from the raging civil war. Rescuing the Prince turned well; upon being crowned King of Norway, the civil war ended.



Dog Sledding

Converted equestrian trails provide scenic winter backcountry adventures for mushing and skijoring.



Hunters in Blackfoot MUST obtain a firearms discharge permit and attend an orientation session held at the Park Office located in the Waskehegan staging area; various dates are available September through November, Discharge permits are issued at the orientation sessions. To register, call (780) 922 3293. Discharging firearms is not permitted within 400 metres of main staging areas or within 200 metres of Meadow, Lost Lake and Running Dog shelters; obtain a site map for staging area and shelter locations. Motorized vehicles are not permitted beyond staging areas. Elk Island National Park abuts the north boundary of the recreation area (a 7-foot fence running east to west between EINP and Blackfoot delineates the boundary); hunting in a national park can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment. Hunting is not permitted on Sundays in Blackfoot.




Sky Gazing

Blackfoot Staging Area is a popular night viewing site by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.


Friends of Blackfoot Society

The Friends of Blackfoot Society enhances visitor experiences through volunteer-provided services and programs. Visit the Interpretive Centre.




Geo-caching is a popular outdoor activity in Blackfoot. Geo-cachers are requested to contact the Park Office prior to placing any caches in the Park, to ensure their placement are conducive with Parks and Protected Areas needs and protocols. Off trail caches, where bushwacking is required, are prohibited.



Our Beautiful Backyard

Blackfoot was one of many Alberta special places included in the outstanding Calgary Herald Magazine series exploring Alberta's next century.(Issue 3 "our beautiful backyard" ~ Sep 06)




Waskahegan Trail Association

The Waskahegan Trail is a 245 km long volunteer managed wilderness trail allowing excellent day hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the Edmonton area. Blackfoot is part of the trail network and is used frequently for WTA member activities.



Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve

A partnership among Parks Canada (Elk Island National Park), Alberta Parks and Protected Areas (Cooking Lake/Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area), and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve was officially declared on September 3, 2006 at Elk Island's "Celebration of the Century", marking the hundredth anniversary of Canada's first game preserve and still Canada's only fenced national park.




Trail Bike Racing

The Kettle Cross Enduro is a bicycle race that takes place every September on the twisting, fast, and fun trails in the Blackfoot Recreation Area. This is a race specifically designed to engage novice cyclists and first-time racers.There is no single-track, no technical downhills, and no technical climbs. There might be mud, depending on the weather before and during the race, and there will definitely be miles and miles of fast roller coaster hills and turns sculpted through a setting of parkland forest, wetlands, and lakes.

Blackfoot Grazing Association

Cattle grazing has occurred in Blackfoot since the 1920's; the Blackfoot Grazing Association was formed in 1948. Livestock grazing is confined to fenced pasture over 7 individual fields and covering an area of 2,875 hectares (7,104 acres).

The Beaver Hills Country: A History of Land and Life  - Athabasca University PressWebsite

Now Available at Bookstores

The Beaver Hills Country explores a relatively small but interesting and unusual region of Alberta between the North Saskatchewan and the Battle Rivers. The Beaver Hills arose where mountain glaciers from the west met continental ice-sheets from the east. An overview of the hills’ geography helps us to see the complexity and diversity of landscapes, soil types, and vegetation communities. The author, Graham A. MacDonald relates how climatic cycles, water availability, wildlife, vegetation, and fire have shaped the possibilities and provided the challenges to those who have called the region home or used its resources: Indigenous people, Métis, and European immigrants.

Congratulations to Jim & Ruth Shewfelt, recipients of the Alberta Fish and Game Association
Lifetime Achievment Award at the 2011 Annual Conference. Jim & Ruth are lifetime members
of the Friends of Blackfoot Society. 


Trails & Activities ...

For details of all Blackfoot  recreational activities and trails useage ...


About your webmaster...

Edmonton Tourism award winning tour guide, Wayne Millar brings experience, skill, professionalism and fun to your outdoor adventure.  His tours attract people from around the world.  As well as international, many of his guests are local residents living in the greater Edmonton region, interested in learning about the incredible outdoor recreation opportunities just half an hour from Alberta's capital city. Wayne L. Millar


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