Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail – new addition to the Trans Canada Trail mix

Graves Photo 2The new Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail is a triumph of thoughtful planning.

The six-meter wide trail winds its way through 300 acres of near-pristine old-growth forest just north of Pigeon Lake. The scenic 2.3 kilometre trail meanders through various ecosystems.

Despite the complexity of the route, only six trees were felled during construction. Trail designers went to great lengths to minimize environmental impact and to disrupt local wildlife as little as possible.

The Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail, which officially opens Saturday, August 26, as part of The Great Trail celebration, is one of dozens of new trails being opened all over Canada that connect the ‘almost-complete’ Trans Canada Trail.

The land was purchased by local residents who pooled their money in the early 1990s with the intention of keeping an area near the lake undeveloped and usable for recreation.  It was subsequently donated to the Government of Alberta’s Parks and Wildlife Ventures Program and is now administered by Alberta Environment and Parks.

The area is home to tamarack, spruce bog, upland deciduous forest, wetlands and more. Visitors have spotted moose, black bears, mule deer, beavers, woodpeckers, rough grouse and a variety of songbirds.

“There are few forested areas like this just 45 minutes away from Edmonton,” Parks and Wildlife Ventures Program Senior Advisor Juanna Goburdhun said in advance of the trail opening. “Large tracts of undisturbed native forested habitat are increasingly rare”

The Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail provides an important connection to the Kiskayo Trail and the overall Trans Canada Trail system. The new trail is the result of collaboration between Alberta Environment and Parks,  the local stewardship group Argentia Beach Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Society, the Summer Village of Argentia Beach, Alberta TrailNet and the Government of Canada.

Saturday’s grand opening, which begins at 2 p.m., will feature a celebration at the trail entrance with geocaching, interpretive hikes and a ribbon cutting ceremony.

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