The Strathcona Wilderness Centre is a year-round destination for outdoor adventures near Sherwood Park. The centre is part of the Beaver Hills Biosphere and has several forested trails, picnic sites, outdoor recreation programs, and equipment rentals.
Things to Do at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre
There are plenty of outdoor activities at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre that can be enjoyed in all four seasons. Here are some things to do at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre.
Spring, Summer and Fall Activities
- hiking and nature walks
- canoeing programs (introductory and intermediate courses)
- outdoor skills and nature awareness programs
- disc golf (9 hole course, par 34)
- rustic camping at walk-in campsites (only 4 sites)
- cross-country skiing on groomed trails
- cross-country ski lessons (group or private lessons for all ages and ability levels)
Trails at Strathcona Wilderness Centre
There are over 12 km of easy to moderate hiking trails at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre.
The trails are wide and well connected to each other, creating several small loops that you can mix and match to customize a unique hike each time you visit.
The scenery doesn’t differ much between trails and you can expect to see aspen parkland that is typical in central Alberta.
The most unique trail is a short boardwalk where you can enjoy the shade of a black spruce bog. In addition to spruce trees, you can see Labrador tea and sphagnum moss. It’s a lovely place to sit and listen to the sounds of the forest, especially the chatter of birds and squirrels.
The trail junctions are labeled with signs and there are several benches along the different routes. There are also a few outhouses, most which are located near the campsites on the west trails.
Cross-country Skiing at Strathcona Wilderness Centre
Each winter, the Strathcona County Wilderness Centre grooms almost their entire trail system for cross-country skiing. The trails are designed for both classic and skate skiing.
To use the ski trails at Strathcona Wilderness Centre, visitors need to buy a day pass or season pass (good from November to March) from the information centre.
For those who don’t own cross-country skis, you can rent all the gear you need (skis, boots, poles) on site. There are even preschool skis and baby gliders (ski pulks) for rent, so the whole family can enjoy skiing at the Strathconca County Wilderness Centre.
The centre is a very popular place for cross-country skiing and all rentals are first come first served, so we recommend arriving early in the day on weekends (especially when the weather is sunny and mild). Rentals are for 3 hours of use and must be returned an hour before closing.
Disc Golf at the Strathcona County Wilderness Centre
Disc Golf is a fun combination of golf and Frisbee. The object of the game is to throw a disk into a basket at the end of a fairway in the fewest number of throws.
The disk golf course at the Strathcona County Wilderness Centre has 9 holes with a total par of 34. The holes range from 57 m to 123 m in length, with many being quite narrow for an added challenge.
It’s free to play the disc golf course and there’s no need to book a tee time. If you don’t have your own discs, you can rent some for a small fee at the information centre for use between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.
Wildlife Viewing at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre
Some wildlife that you may see at the wilderness centre are birds (including woodpeckers), deer, and moose.
Moose are sometimes spotted directly on the hiking trails. If you encounter a moose on the trail, just back away slowly and go back the direction you came. Don’t approach or try to walk past it.
Review of the Strathcona Wilderness Centre
The Strathcona Wilderness Centre is an enjoyable, well-maintained site that can be appreciated in every season. It’s especially pretty in the fall, when the leaves start to change colour.
Even in the summer, it’s not very busy so is a great choice for people looking for a quiet place to go hiking near Edmonton. For a small park, there’s an impressive variety of routes.
The one downside is that the park closes early in the day (4:30 pm), so it’s not a place you can go for an after-work walk or evening hike.
Tips for Visiting the Strathcona Wilderness Centre
Location: The Strathcona Wilderness Centre is located east of Sherwood Park at 52535 Range Road 212. It’s about at 20 minute drive from Sherwood Park and 35- 40 minute drive from downtown Edmonton.
Getting There: From Edmonton and Sherwood Park, take the Sherwood Park Freeway/Baseline Road directly to Range Rd. 212. A sign marks the entrance to the park. You can also take the Yellowhead/Highway 16 to Range Rd. 212 then turn south and follow it directly into the park.
Opening Hours: The wilderness centre is open year round from 9:00 am- 4:30 pm, except on Christmas day and Easter Sunday when it is closed. The front gate gets locked at 4:30 pm.
Admission Fees: There are no admission fees in the summer. In the winter, there’s a charge to use the cross-country ski trails, but not to hike or snowshoe.
- There are fees to rent equipment and you will need to show photo ID.
Facilities: The wilderness centre has an information office where you can pick up a trail map. There are outhouses and benches at points along the hiking trails. There are also some picnic sites, a cookhouse, and an event centre/lodge with a kitchen, dormitories, and meeting room that can be booked for social functions.
Visiting Strathcona Wilderness Centre in the Winter: Even though most of the trails are used for cross-country skiing in the winter, you can still visit the park to go for a walk or snowshoeing. There’s one designated snowshoe/hiking trail (although not very long) and a 1.5 km multi-purpose loop that can be used for winter walks, snowshoeing, and skiing.
- The ski trails are very popular on the weekends and the parking lot does fill up, so you may have to park on the road/driveway into the park. However, there are enough trails so that they’re not crowded with skiers.
Visitor Guidelines: Dogs, horses, and other pets are not allowed at the wilderness centre.
- Bicycles and off-road vehicles are not permitted.