The Paths of McKenzie Trails Recreation Area

The ponds at McKenzie Trails Recreation Area

Explore along the red deer river

by | Published on June 20, 2016 | Last updated on July 5, 2019

Based on a visit to the area on June 12, 2016 and October 10, 2016

Once the site of a gravel pit, a dump and a sawmill, this riverside park is a reclamation success story now showcasing paved path along a lake where Canada Geese nest and through a cool spruce forest.

Today the area is part of Waskasoo Park, offering a series of paved path, picnic areas, ponds and a canoe launch on Red Deer River.

McKenzie Trails Recreation Area

The path through the forest

McKenzie Trails Recreation Area

Fall reflections in the pond

The McKenzie brothers moved to the area 1883, opening a sawmill that supplied many of the original settlers to the area. Over time they added a ferry across the river, and once a traffic bridge was proposed in the new town they won the construction contract.

Later on the was was used as a gravel pit, creating the ponds that we enjoy as we make our way through the park node.

Plan Your Adventure

Trail conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our hike in the area on June 12, 2016 and October 10, 2016.

  • Activity: Walk
  • Distance: 1.1 to 3+ km
  • Elevation Gain: ~20 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy
  • Family Friendly: Yes – stroller friendly
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Trail Conditions: Paved
  • Season: Year Round
  • Congestion: Moderate
  • Alternate Descriptions: None
  • Trailhead: The trail starts at McKenzie Trails Recreation Area in Red Deer. To get there, follow 45 Avenue to the end.

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: The City of Red Deer
  • Protection Status: Municipal Park
  • Other Trail Uses: Running and biking
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes – must be on leash
  • 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 adventure to McKenzie Trails Recreation Area.

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 paths of McKenzie Trails Recreation Area.

Ponds Trail

  • 0.2 km | Junction: Keep Left
  • 0.4 km | Junction: Keep Left
  • 0.5 km | Junction: Keep Right
  • 0.6 km | Junction: Keep Right
  • 0.7 km | Junction: Keep left and retrace your steps to the trailhead

Forest Walk

  • 0.4 km | Boat Launch
  • 0.5 km | Gated Access Road
  • 1.2 km | Junction: Keep Right
  • 1.7 km | Road Junction: Go Straight

The Ponds Trail

A busy place in the afternoon with the picnic area and playgrounds nearby, the ponds make for a great option for an easy stroll in the park or some early morning pictures. The path is paved and easy to find starting at the picnic area parking lot. Follow the path passed the dry washrooms and along the pond. At the next junction, go left to cross the bridge overlooking the area before making a short loop and retracing your footsteps to the trailhead.

For those looking to head out on a longer walk, the main path continues past the loop to connect with the South Bank trails going past the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and continuing all the way to Heritage Ranch.

McKenzie Trails Recreation Area
McKenzie Trails Recreation Area
McKenzie Trails Recreation Area
McKenzie Trails Recreation Area

The Forest Trail

A somewhat longer option, the forest trail takes you through a spruce forest providing some much needed shade on a hot summer day. This trail starts from the same parking lot as The Ponds Trail above but follow the path on the right at the dry washrooms.

The first section of trails follows the river to the boat launch area. At the boat launch parking lot you can either walk on the road or follow the path behind the parking staff furthest away from the river through a cut line. Both option lead to a gated access road which you want to use. The next junction is a loop from an earlier era when the nearby maintenance compound was a group picnic area. Soon the path enters the forest, past a small pond and continues along a peaceful area. The next junction gives you the option to walk up to the Garden Heights neighbourhood or to take a right to make your way back to the parking lot.

McKenzie Trails Recreation Area
McKenzie Trails Recreation Area
McKenzie Trails Recreation Area

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.