Winter makes catching breathtaking sunrises easy with lots of bluedbird days and no need to wake up at crazy hours. Heritage Ranch has some great options for those wanting to catch the sun coming up over the river valley. Heading out on the trails just before the sun is set to rise will give you a glimpse of it before you head down to the lower grounds, giving you plenty of time to setup for pictures along the river.

There are many great trails within the Waskasoo Parks in Red Deer and this loop is our usual route for the Sunrise Snowshoe Tours. If you’re looking for a longer outing you can easily explore the many side trails you’ll encounter along the way.

Some of the trails are unofficial trails and can be harder to find, especially after a fresh snowfall.

The area is not usually overly busy but the sound of Highway 2 is noticeable. The area has tracks set for cross country skiing. Make sure to step over the tracks to leave them set for skiers in the area.

Trail Guide

Trail conditions can change quickly. The map and directions below are based on our experience snowshoeing in the area throughout the winter. The multi-use trail is usually groomed for cross country skiing after each snowfall.

  • Activity: Snowshoeing
  • Distance: ~4.5 km return
  • Elevation Gain: ~40 m
  • Challenge Level: Easy
  • Family Friendly: Yes (not stroller or sled friendly)
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Trail Conditions: Unofficial Trail – Good
  • Season: Winter
  • Congestion: Moderate, especially on weekends
  • Management: The City of Red Deer
  • Protection Status: Waskasoo Park
  • Trailhead: Heritage Ranch parking lot. Public washrooms.
  • Other Trail Uses: Fat biking, horseback riding, xc skiing
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes
  • Permits / Restrictions: None
  • Cell Reception: Good
  • Alternate Descriptions: Larger paths are shown on city maps

Trailhead: The parking lot at Heritage Ranch can be accessed through the Westlake neighbourhood on Cronquist Drive and Webster Drive. Access is also available from the Visitor Information Centre and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame on Highway 2.

The Trails

Access | 0.2 km

    • Follow the path from the parking lot, crossing the pedestrian bridge overlooking the horse corrals.

Snowshoe Trail | 0.7 km

    • 0.2 km | At the intersection, follow the narrow trail into the trees before the cross country ski trail sign.
    • 0.5 km | At the bench, follow the trail into the forest on your right.
    • 0.6 km | Take the trail down the hill at the junction.
    • 0.7 km | Walk past the trails on the right into a clearing and turn left to toward a cutline.

River Access | 0.3 km

    • 0.9 km | Turn right on the multi-purpose trail.
    • 1.0 km | Turn left on the multi-purpose trail.
    • 1.1 km | Follow the trail on your right to the boat launch. This is a great spot to watch the sunrise.

River Trail | 1.1 km

    • 1.2 km | Follow the trail into the forest on your right.
    • 1.5 km | At the bridge, stay on the forest trail on your right.
    • 2.2 km | Turn right to access the river. Another great spot as the sun rises over the steeper river banks.

Lower Grounds | 1.1 km

    • 2.3 km | Follow the trail around the pond, going left onto the carriage road.
    • 2.4 km | After the washrooms, follow the trail into the forest on your right.
    • 2.9 km | Meeting up with the cross country ski trail, go straight along the pond.
    • 3.1 km | Turn right to access the field. Make your way toward the service road at the other end of the field.

Return Trail | 1.0 km

  • 3.4 km | Make your way to the multi-purpose trail and follow it up the hill, all the way back to the Westlake Grill.
  • 4.5 km | Enjoy breakfast at the Westlake Grill.

Access | 0.2 km

Start from the trail at the corner of the parking lot closest to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and the Visitor Information Centre. The trail heads up toward a pedestrian bridge overlooking the horse corrals. Follow the trail to the junction ahead, where the cross country ski trails start.

Snowshoe Trail | 0.7 km

At the junction, just before the cross country ski trail sign there is a smaller path heading into the forest on your right. Follow this trail as it stays close to the edge of the river valley, closely following the multi-purpose trail. The trail soon comes up to a bench along the main trail. Follow the trail into the forest and down toward the valley.

At the next junction, follow the trail on your right heading straight down the hill. Shortly after merging with another trail, the trail appears to take a sharp right. This trail heads toward the bridge over the Red Deer River and Great Chief Park. Go straight instead, walking into a small open area where you will see a trail heading into a cutline on your left. Follow this path toward the picnic area.

Heritage Ranch Trails

Follow the path on the right

Heritage Ranch Trails

Early morning walk

Heritage Ranch Trails

Sunrise over the Red Deer River

River Access | 0.3 km

The path comes out at the cross country ski trail. Follow the trail on your right, being careful not to damage the groomed tracks, and turn left where the cross country ski trails intersect. At the top of the hill, follow the path to the boat launch and a great spot to watch the sunrise.

River Trail | 1.1 km

From the boat launch, follow the trail into the forest on your right. The trail takes you along the river where the morning light is at its best. Continue past the bridge until you reach another river access. The steeper river banks here make for more great photo opportunities.

Lower Grounds | 1.1 km

From there, walk around the pond onto the carriage road. Go left, past an older outhouse and take the trail into the forest on your right. A nice quiet option in the morning, the trail leads you back to the fishing pond. From there, follow the trail to the field and head across toward the service road.

Return Trail | 1.0 km

At the edge of the field reconnect with the multi-purpose path to head back to the upper grounds, making your way back to the Westlake Grill for a well deserved breakfast.

Heritage Ranch Trails

Quiet trails

Heritage Ranch Trails

Approaching the fishing pond

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 making plenty of noise, keeping your pet on a leash and keeping your group together.
  • 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 trail information before going on your adventure.

Disclaimer

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.