Dr. George Trail

The Gaetz Lakes

A Taste of the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary

by | Published on June 19, 2016 | Last updated on July 5, 2019

Based on a visit to the area on June 8, 2016

This short paved loop gives a good introduction to Alberta’s oldest federal migratory bird sanctuary, taking you from the Kerry Wood Nature Centre to the bird blind on the West Gaetz Lake and across an area typical of the aspen parkland where the forest and the grassland exist side by side.
Along the way keep an eye out for hairy and downy woodpeckers, nuthatch, chickadee, ruffed grouse, red-tailed hawk, waterfowl, beaver, muskrat, Richardson ground squirrel, coyote, deer or even a moose.
Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary

The paved Dr. George Trail

Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary

Bird blinds at the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary

This trail is named after Dr. Henry George, the first president of the Alberta Natural History Society, a precursor to the Red Deer River Naturalist. If you are visiting the Innisfail area, stop by the Dr. George / Kemp house to learn more about him and his wife who designed the Alberta provincial crest.

The wheelchair accessible trail gives a great introduction to the bird sanctuary and Waskasoo Park.

Plan Your Adventure

Trail conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our hike in the area on June 8, 2016.

  • Activity: Walk
  • Distance: 1.1 km
  • Elevation Gain: ~10 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy
  • Family Friendly: Yes – stroller friendly
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Trail Conditions: Paved
  • Season: Year Round
  • Congestion: Minimal
  • Alternate Descriptions: Visit the Kerry Wood Nature Centre for more information on this area.
  • Trailhead: The trail starts at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre located at 6300 45 Avenue in Red Deer.

Guided Tours

Enjoy the comfort that comes with a guide who knows the area’s trails, wildlife and terrain so that you can focus on your adventure, while the rest is taken care of.

  • Management: Waskasoo Environmental Education Society
  • Protection Status: Municipal Park / Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Other Trail Uses: Running, biking and going off trail are prohibited
  • Dogs Allowed: No
  • Permits / Restrictions: None
  • Cell Reception: Excellent

Head Out With A Guide

Make the most of your adventure and head out with a guide. Pursuit Adventures offers guided hikes from April to November. Get in touch with them to plan your custom hiking adventure in Central Alberta.

Head Out On Your Own

Sometimes you just want to head out on your own to explore the area. We get it. Here’s the guide for the Dr. George Trail.

Dr. George Trail

  • 0.4 km | West Gaetz Lake Bird Blind
  • 0.8 km | Wishart Trail Junction
The hike start on the other side of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. During the day, head in to get the latest on the trail, spend some time going through the exhibits and check out the bookstore featuring a large selection of nature focused books. When the centre is closed, access the trail through the nature playground located on the side of the centre.

The trail starts with a junction. Follow the sign for the bird blind, heading toward the poplar forest. The trail to your right is the return path from the Wishart Trail and the one to your left is your return trail.

The first stop along the way is just a short distance from the trailhead. Take the short detour to head over to the bird blind overlooking the west lake. A good spot to visit on its own, the blind gives a good chance to see a variety of waterfowl and shoreline birds in close proximity.

Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary
Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary
Retrace your footsteps back to the main trail and continue your adventure on the paved path. Before long you’ll come across an abandoned channel of the Red Deer river where a small stream connecting to the East Gaetz Lake flows through. The Gaetz Lakes are oxbow lakes, laying in a former channel of the river abandoned long ago when the river made its way to its current course.
Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary
Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary
At the junction with the Wishart Trail, stay on the paved path where he trail will take you through a grassland area where cattle once grazed as you head back toward the nature centre.
Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary

Outdoor Safety

  • For your safety and the protection of the area please follow trail signs, stay on the trail and respect all trail closures
  • Be respectful of wildlife and familiarize yourself with wildlife safety techniques including keeping your pet on a leash and keeping your group together.
  • Always use the bear proof garbage bin, keep a clean site and store your food in a bear safe fashion.
  • Always be prepared when travelling outdoors.
  • This area has cell phone reception.
  • Information provided here may be inaccurate or outdated. Always make sure to obtain current information before going on your adventure.


There are inherent risks in outdoor activities. Although we strive to provide accurate information and to alert you of potential dangers, trail conditions may change quickly due to weather conditions and other factors. Using the information provided on this site is entirely at your own risk and Pursuit Adventures is in no ways liable for any injuries or other damages that may be sustained by anyone using the trails or information described on this site.

Have you been to this trail? Let us know about your adventure in the comments below.