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The North Saskatchewan River is an obvious choice for Edmontonians who want to go paddling, but there are so many more places to go kayaking in the Edmonton area for a fun day out on the water.
Places to Go Kayaking in the Edmonton Area
There are a lot of fantastic places to go kayaking near Edmonton, from small ponds and lakes to larger bodies of water and gentle rivers.
Here are some of the best places to kayak near Edmonton, all within a 1 hour drive of the city.
East of Edmonton, approximately 63 km from downtown
Astotin Lake, in Elk Island National Park, is one of the most popular places to go kayaking in the Edmonton area because it’s a familiar location, easily accessible, and there are rentals available (kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards) at the beach.
For those who have their own kayak or canoe, there’s a convenient boat launch where you can drive right up to the water to unload then park nearby.
The lake is quite large and there are several forested islands, peninsulas, and sheltered bays to explore. The lake can also be good for bird watching and you’ll even see some beaver lodges. There are some nice sunsets too!
Motorized boats aren’t allowed on the lake so paddling here is peaceful, especially the further away you get from the busy beach area.
As enjoyable as it is to paddle at Astotin Lake, there are a few downsides. The lake sometimes gets blue-green algae in the summer and parking can be hard to find on the weekends. You’ll also need to buy a park pass since the lake is in a national park.
Read more: Kayaking Astotin Lake
East of Edmonton, approximately 55 km from downtown
One of the most beautiful and tranquil places to go kayaking near Edmonton is Islet Lake in Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area.
This small, scenic lake has a densely forested shoreline, a large island in the middle, and a few smaller islands at the north end. There are also reeds around the lake’s edge where you might see some birds perched and singing in the sun.
Islet Lake is popular with waterfowl and you could even spot some muskrats swimming about.
What you won’t see is a lot of other people, since there are no boat rentals here and this part of the park isn’t visited by many hikers. Motorized boats aren’t allowed on the lake either, which makes it great for watching and listening to the wildlife.
Read more: Kayaking Islet Lake
East of Edmonton, approximately 46 km from downtown
Another quiet and secluded kayaking spot near Edmonton is Hastings Lake.
It’s a large lake that consists of two basins connected by a narrow channel. The channel is sometimes passable by kayak but more often not because of the shallow water and vegetation. The best side for kayaking is the northeast basin because it’s smaller, there’s no access for motor boats, and there’s almost no residential development.
You can launch your kayak or canoe into the small side of the lake at the end of Range Road 203. Once on the water keep an eye out for muskrats, beavers, waterfowl, and other birds. As for scenery, you’ll see a lot of trees around the shoreline and a very small rocky island.
If you want to paddle the larger basin of the lake you can launch at the end of Range Road 204. You may see a few motor boats here, but typically the northeast end, by the islands and coves, is pretty quiet (the south shore is more developed).
Black Nugget Lake
Southeast of Edmonton, approximately 89 km from downtown
Black Nugget Lake is one of the lesser known places to kayak near Edmonton, but this small lake is a joy to paddle.
The lake isn’t a wide open body of water, but instead has several passageways connecting sheltered coves that are hidden from view of the launch area. The curvy shoreline and its small hills give the lake a lot of visual appeal, so it’s more interesting to paddle than a large circular lake.
In addition to the pretty scenery and calm water, the lake is also great for bird watching.
One downside of paddling here is that it can get quite weedy and there may be some algae, but that’s the case for a lot of lakes near Edmonton.
Public access is through the Black Nugget Lake Campground, which partially surrounds the lake. Just check in at the office upon arrival.
South of Edmonton, approximately 36 km from downtown
Telford Lake is a long, skinny lake located at the edge of Leduc. Its convenient location, just a short drive from the capital city, makes it a popular spot for kayaking in the Edmonton area.
The lake is a good choice for an early season paddle, since it tends to be ice free before other lakes around Edmonton.
Telford Lake is circled by a walking trail, so you’ll see some wooden observation decks along the shoreline. If you paddle all the way down to the east end of the lake, you’ll find a scenic narrows that is enjoyable to explore. You’ll likely also see plenty of birds, evidence of beavers, and maybe some muskrats.
West of Edmonton, approximately 40 km from downtown
Muir Lake is one of the best places to go kayaking near Edmonton, especially for bird watchers and fishermen.
This small lake is stocked with trout and is home to a variety of birds, including pelicans and red-necked grebes. You might even see some nests as you paddle around the shoreline.
The scenery is pleasant, with a lot of trees around the lake and a small island. There’s also no lakefront homes, so it’s natural and quiet.
Launching is easy since you can drive right up to the lake to unload your boat then park in a nearby lot. There’s also a dock you can use.
West of Edmonton, approximately 67 km from downtown
Mayatan Lake is another excellent spot for kayaking near Edmonton.
The lake has two basins connected by a channel that you can paddle through, so it feels like you’re getting a two-for-one kayaking trip. The northwest basin is nicely sheltered by forest and the southeast basin has a few coves you can visit. The water is also really clear so you can see plant life below the surface.
Like other places you can go kayaking around Edmonton, there are opportunities to see birds and other water loving wildlife.
Read more: Kayaking Mayatan Lake
Big Lake and the Sturgeon River
Northwest of Edmonton, approximately 16 km from downtown
If you don’t feel like travelling very far from Edmonton, you may want to go kayaking at Big Lake in St. Albert.
Like the name suggests, this lake is big so the shoreline is not as interesting or attractive as other lakes you can kayak in the Edmonton area. However, it’s typically good for an early season paddle and is home to a large number of birds and other wildlife. Later in the season the water levels can be really low.
The launch area at Riel Park not only provides access to Big Lake, but the Sturgeon River as well, so you can explore both in one outing. Paddling along the Sturgeon will take you through the heart of St. Albert and under several bridges, including an old trestle bridge. The current is gentle enough that paddling upstream shouldn’t be a problem.
Other Places to Go Kayaking Near Edmonton
Here are a few more ponds and lakes near Edmonton you may want to check out for kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding:
- Cardiff Park Pond- 33 km north of Edmonton
- Half Moon Lake- 39 km southeast of Edmonton
- Chickakoo Lake– 47 km west of Edmonton
- Coal Lake and Pipestone Creek- 59- 81 km (depending where you launch) south of Edmonton
More Outdoor Activities in Edmonton and Area
You may also enjoy these other Edmonton activity guides:
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