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Pigeon Lake is most often thought of as a summer destination, but the area has plenty of winter activities to offer people looking for a fun winter getaway in central Alberta.
Things to Do at Pigeon Lake in Winter
From popular winter sports like cross country skiing and ice hockey, to more relaxed activities like sleigh rides and ice fishing, you’ll find it all and more at Pigeon Lake. Here are some outdoorsy things to do at Pigeon Lake in winter.
Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing
The Pigeon Lake area has several parks and nature preserves that offer opportunities for winter hiking and snowshoeing with minimal elevation gain.
At Pigeon Lake Provincial Park, on the southwest shore of the lake, you’ll find approximately 12 km of forested hiking trails that are all connected to visit different parts of the park. There’s a trail that circles around the campground and travels along the shoreline, plus several loops for exploring further into the forest.
Some of the trails get groomed for cross country skiing, so you’ll have to walk beside the tracks, but the trails that aren’t groomed are great for snowshoeing, since they don’t get a lot of traffic packing down the snow. The open fields by the group camping area are also fantastic for snowshoeing if you like blazing your own trail.
At The Village at Pigeon Lake, on the southeast shore of the lake, there are some trails that meander through the wooded area behind the Village Creek Country Inn. The trailhead is tucked away in between the inn and condo building, but keep walking to the end of the parking lot and soon a long bridge comes into view.
After you cross the bridge spanning the ravine, there are a few trails heading off in different directions you can choose from. If you go left there’s a loop that circles around a small pond and if you go right you’ll roughly follow the path of the ravine (views are limited by the trees). For a better idea of the possible routes, pick up a trail map at the Village Creek Country Inn.
Another lovely place for winter hiking or snowshoeing at Pigeon Lake is the Graves Wildlife Sanctuary, near the summer village of Argentia Beach on the lake’s north shore.
At the Graves Wildlife Sanctuary there’s a 1.87 km loop with two spur trails- one leading from the main parking lot on Range Road 11 (170 m long) and the other leading to/from Argentia Beach (575 m long). It’s best to start hiking from RR 11 because there’s no parking lot at the Argentia trailhead that Google Maps will direct you to.
The pretty, peaceful trails at the sanctuary are mostly forested with one small area that’s not as sheltered by trees. There’s hardly any elevation gain, the route is marked by signs, and there are benches along the way for taking a rest. Since this loop is very lightly trafficked, there’s a good chance you’ll have it all to yourself.
Cross Country Skiing
One of the top things to do at Pigeon Lake in winter is go cross country skiing.
The best place for cross country skiing at Pigeon Lake is in Pigeon Lake Provincial Park where you’ll find 10 km of trackset trails. The trails form three connected loops that pass through forest and meadows and along a small section of lakeshore.
The main trailhead is near the Moose group camping area (watch for signs). Loop A is closest to the lake and is about 3 km long. Loop B is the middle loop and is about 2 km long. Loop C (Harbour Vu) is the longest section at 5 km. These three connected loops mean you can customize your ski to be 3, 5, or 10 km long.
The Pigeon Lake Provincial Park cross country ski trails are all rated easy since the landscape is fairly flat, so they’re great for beginners and people wanting a relaxing ski.
Another place you can go cross country skiing at Pigeon Lake is at Rundle’s Mission. Here there’s a 220 acre nature conservancy that has an 8 km ski route consisting of five connected loops.
Horse Drawn Sleigh and Wagon Rides
Another enjoyable and relaxing winter activity at Pigeon Lake is to go on a horse drawn sleigh or wagon ride at a local ranch.
Pigeon Lake Horse Drawn Rides is a family operated company that offers six types of wagons/sleighs for private or small group excursions down forested trails and across snowy fields looking out onto Pigeon Lake.
For a romantic date night with a touch of old fashioned charm, book a tour for two in the cozy, refurbished 100+ year old sleigh. You can do an hour-long daytime tour or up the romance factor with a moonlight sleigh ride. You can even book a bonfire afterwards with hot dogs and marshmallows for roasting.
During the Christmas season, get into the holiday spirit with a Christmas light tour. On this night ride, the horses will pull your sleigh down tree-framed paths draped with colourful Christmas lights and dotted with illuminated ornaments. It’s an activity the whole family can enjoy!
One of the more unique things to do in the Pigeon Lake area is go clay shooting at Blackmore Shooting Sports near Winfield. This shotgun sporting clay facility is open year round and offers a 14 stand main course, a covered five stand, and an advanced course.
Before heading out on the main course, it’s fun to get some target practice at the five stand. There are five shooting windows that look out onto a tree-framed meadow and the clay thrower presents a variety of targets as it changes the angle, elevation, speed, and distance that the clays fly though the air. If you’re new to shooting sports, the five stand is a great introduction to what you can expect on the course.
The main clay shooting course consists of 14 stands spread out over a scenic 35 acres of forest and meadows. Each station has two clay throwers connected to a remote control so you can release the targets at your own pace. The staff changes the course every two weeks or so, altering the angles and speeds of the clays, so it’s kept interesting and challenging for frequent visitors.
Shotguns can be rented on site or you can bring your own. Ammunition can also be purchased on site. Pricing is per clay and the amount you purchase is loaded onto a card that you insert at each station. Each time you fire a clay it gets deducted from your card.
It’s important to note that at least one person in each group must have a valid PAL (Possession and Acquisition Licence) to shoot this course. If you or someone in your group doesn’t have a PAL you have to be accompanied by a staff member, so it’s best to call ahead if you will be requiring this service (an additional fee may apply). Hearing and eye protection is also mandatory- free disposable ear plugs are available and safety glasses can be purchased at the clubhouse.
If you plan to shoot this course in winter, you need to call ahead to book a time. You’ll have to come on a day that’s warmer than -15C because any colder than that and the clay shooting machines get shut down.
One of the most popular winter activities at Pigeon Lake is ice fishing. The lake is home to walleye, pike, perch, lake whitefish, and burbot.
There are a few different places you can drive out onto the lake, once the ice is thick enough to do so, including the boat launch at Pigeon Lake Provincial Park and at Hamblin Park in the summer village of Grandview.
Before you head out ice fishing at Pigeon Lake, make sure you buy a fishing licence and read the local fishing regulations.
Skating and Ice Hockey
If you’d like to go skating or play hockey during your winter trip to Pigeon Lake, the best ice surface is at the outdoor rink in Falun, a short drive from The Village at Pigeon Lake.
The Falun Skating Rink is an NHL size rink complete with boards and glass, hockey nets, covered players benches, painted lines, floodlights, and bleachers for spectators. There’s even a zamboni for keeping the ice smooth.
It’s free to skate here and the rink is typically open every day once conditions allow, just make sure the “open” sign is out before taking to the rink.
More Winter Activities at Pigeon Lake
A few more things to do at Pigeon Lake in winter include camping and snowmobiling.
Pigeon Lake Provincial Park has 10 powered sites open for winter camping. These sites are cleared of snow and are available at a reduced price. Vault toilets are open year round, but firewood and water are not available from October to May.
If you have a snowmobile, the most convenient place to ride it is on the lake. You can unload your machine at the boat launch in Pigeon Lake Provincial Park, but are not allowed to ride within the park boundaries, so make sure you head directly to the lake.
Review of the Winter Activities at Pigeon Lake
The Pigeon Lake area is a nice choice for a quiet, relaxing winter getaway in central Alberta.
There are plenty of different locations for winter hiking, snowshoeing, fat biking, and cross country skiing, but the best part is there are no crowds of people to share the trails with.
Having a clay shooting course nearby is handy for people looking for something that’s not your typical winter sport, while ice fishing and sleigh rides are the perfect laidback activities for enjoying quality time with family.
Tips for Visiting Pigeon Lake in Winter
Location: Pigeon Lake is located in central Alberta about 95 km southwest of Edmonton. It’s approximately a 1 hour 10 minute drive from Edmonton and Red Deer, and 35 minutes from Wetaskiwin.
Cross Country Skiing: The ski trails in Pigeon Lake Provincial Park are set and groomed by the Pigeon Lake Nordic Ski Club. Before heading out it’s best to check their trail conditions report here.
Where to Stay: The Village at Pigeon Lake in Westerose makes a good home base for exploring the area because there are several good restaurants and comfortable accommodations at the Village Creek Country Inn. There’s even a spa if you need some pampering after your winter adventures.
Information was correct at the time of publishing but can change without notice. Please confirm directly with service providers.
More Winter Guides
You may also like these other Alberta winter activity guides:
- THINGS TO DO IN ALBERTA IN WINTER- FUN OUTDOOR WINTER ACTIVITIES
- Ice Skating in Edmonton- The Best Edmonton Outdoor Skating Rinks
- ABRAHAM LAKE ICE BUBBLES- HOW TO SEE THE FROZEN BUBBLES IN ABRAHAM LAKE
- CLINE RIVER FALLS HIKE IN WINTER- DAVID THOMPSON COUNTRY
- ALBERTA SKI RESORTS- THE BEST SKI AREAS IN THE ROCKIES
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