Bird blind on the Gaetz Lakes
Explore the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary
Based on a visit to the area on June 8, 2016
Lookout on the Gaetz Lakes
Bird blinds at the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary
The Wishart Trail, named after an early resident of the Sanctuary, follows the Dr. George Trail in section before heading into the forest and around the sanctuary. While the Dr. George Trail is suitable for strollers, the stairs on the Wishart Trail make it a better option for older kids or carrier backpacks.
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: Hike
- Distance: 4.3 km
- Elevation Gain: ~56 m
- Challenge Level: Easy
- Family Friendly: Yes – no strollers
- Trail Type: Loop
- Trail Conditions: Good
- 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.
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 Wishart Trail.
- 0.4 km | West Gaetz Lake Bird Blind
- 0.8 km | Trail leaves the Dr. George Trail
- 1.5 km | Hogsback Viewpoint
- 1.8 km | In a Slump Viewpoint
- 2.3 km | Top of the Sanctuary
- 2.4 km | Stairs
- 2.8 km | Mineral Spring
- 2.9 km | Fossil Slump
- 3.0 km | Boardwalk
- 3.4 km | South Viewing Deck
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 and the one to your left is the Dr. George 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.
Where the Dr. George trail turns to make its way back to the nature centre, follow the well marked gravel trail back into the forest.
Continue along the trail and before long you’ll come across a slump providing another great viewpoint. Landslides are common in areas like this but this ones has a human cause: a faulty storm sewer from the Michener Centre.
From here the trail continues its ascent toward the top of the sanctuary, near the Michener Centre grounds and a quick rest before heading down the stairs toward the West Gaetz Lake. Along the way take a look at the channel that was left behind, the former course of the river when it did a loop at the base of the escarpment.
The Gaetz Lakes were split in two by a landslide a long time ago. The area of the slump is still visible and left behind a wet area where you’ll find many rare and fragile plants.
The boardwalk and bridge at the south end of the West Lake are great spots to watch beaver, muskrats and frogs. The lakes rely in large part on rainfall and snow melt to maintain their levels. As such, in dry years you’ll notice more marshland along the edge of the lake where in wet years the lake may overflow in the nearby meadows.
The area from the bridge back to the Kerry Wood Nature Centre is outside of the federal migratory bird sanctuary but was added to the park by The City of Red Deer to act as a buffer. This area has been reclaimed and the first section between the bridge and the south viewing deck was once a garbage dump and during the war served as a training ground for the army. Along the way to the nature centre you can still see many signs that the area was once the Glenmere Farm, from the grassland were cattle once grazed to the rows of trees that were common on homesteads.
- 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.