Nestled within Alberta’s scenic landscapes, the town of Okotoks is more than just a sought-after real estate hotspot; it’s a nature lover's paradise! This quaint town, beautifully flanked by the Rocky Mountains, contains numerous trails promising visitors invigorating walks, captivating views, and a glimpse into the rich ecological tapestry of the region.
As prospective residents become allured by Okotoks’ charming homes for sale, the trails in the area stand as bonuses, blending the best of both worlds: a serene lifestyle and nature's embrace. Here’s what to know about the best trails in Okotoks, Alberta.
Sheep River Loop
The Sheep River Loop Trail is a picturesque hike showcasing the natural beauty of the Okotoks area, following the Sheep River itself and crossing it twice.
This relatively easy 7.7-kilometre loop trail is manageable for hikers of all skill levels, and leashed dogs are welcome. Near the bridge, when the water levels are low, there's a pebble beach with river access where dogs are permitted.
Parts of the trail are paved, while other sections are more rugged, keeping the hike exciting and engaging. There are no technical stretches, and the trail gains just over 152 metres in total elevation, mostly via gently rolling hills along the riverbank. The trail is especially muddy during the rainy season and may require additional stream crossings.
Sheep River Loop is also popular with cyclists and trail runners, and wildlife frequents it, particularly deer. Be sure to practice good trail etiquette and stay to the right.
Roland Parkway: Crystal Shores
Although this Okotoks trail traverses a largely residential area, you’ll enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains from several points.
The easy and little-used 3.9-kilometre loop trail is an excellent way to get some exercise and fresh air without leaving the community. It's just as popular for cycling as hiking, and leashed dogs are a common sight. Because it's a loop fully contained within the Crystal Shores community, you can hop on and off the trail wherever is convenient.
There are a couple of ponds along the route and a colourful community rock garden, which is one of the trail's highlights. Another unique thing about the Roland Parkway trail is that, in the winter months, it passes right through a popular community sledding hill.
At other times of the year, the scenery is also lovely, with wildflowers and blooming trees in the spring, changing autumn foliage, and an explosion of green in the summer.
The 8.1-kilometre Heritage Parkway Trail follows much of the same route as the Sheep River Loop, mainly sticking to the north side of the river. It's one of the more popular trails in the area, providing a natural, easily accessible retreat alongside the river right in town.
This trail is particularly popular in the winter because it's one of just a few the city maintains, keeping it (mostly) free of ice and snow. Much of the trail is paved and wide, making it manageable for most people, wheelchairs, and strollers. There are several official starting points, but most locals recommend Bill Robertson Park—one of the best parks in Okotoks—which has plenty of parking and traditional park facilities.
Heritage Parkway keeps things interesting along the way, at times, travelling right next to the river and others passing through bridges or over train tracks. Some public art installations are on trees, so keep your eyes open for those. A few highlights include a small dog called Slobber, a pair of turtles, and "Sunflower Susan."
Cimarron Parkway: Sheep River
Like several other trails in the Okotoks area, Cimarron Parkway follows a section of the larger Sheep River Loop.
This easy and paved 4.6-kilometre section starts at Cimarron Estates and stretches to Okotoks Lions Campground. It follows the riverbank on the south side and has minimal elevation gain, making it a perfect choice for quick outings. This trail is popular year-round, particularly with folks walking their dogs.
Nearby, another popular trail is Cimarron Pond. Its similar-sounding name makes things somewhat confusing, but it’s an entirely different trail. This 1.9-kilometre route makes a quick loop around Cimarron Pond.
The paved loop is popular year-round with bicyclists, runners, and walkers alike. Wildlife, including deer and waterfowl, is also abundant, particularly in the mornings.
Laudan Park Loop
Laudan Park Loop is an easy 2.4-kilometre trail inside Laudan Park, encircling the namesake pond and baseball diamond. While most of the trail is paved, overgrowth and mud in the winter and spring can make a few sections difficult to follow.
While it's easy with negligible elevation gain and nothing technical, it's not fully accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. Deer sightings are common, particularly near the pond, and the loop is especially popular with dog walkers.
One unique thing about Laudan Loop that residents love is the wintertime skating loop. When it's icy, the park grooms the 460-metre loop around the baseball diamond for ice skating.
Okotoks Pond and Creek Loop
The 4.4-kilometre Okotoks Pond and Creek Loop form a rough figure-eight around Beatrice Wyndham Park and through Drake Landing Common Park. It’s a very popular urban trail among dog owners, as it passes right along the edge of an off-leash dog park.
Due to the two parks and minimal elevation gain, it's also a popular choice for those with children. The loop is accessible year-round and offers lovely scenery in all seasons. The pond typically freezes over during the coldest part of winter. When the water isn't frozen, look for beavers swimming and building their dams.
The trail has wide and paved sections, along with others that are narrower and made of hard-packed dirt and gravel. It's manageable for all ages, but the unpaved and narrow areas may prove difficult for those with mobility issues. All-terrain strollers may fare okay, but it's unlikely that wheelchairs would have the same experience.
Natural Beauty Awaits on Okotok’s Best Trails
Okotoks is celebrated for its scenic beauty, tight-knit community, and vast array of trails, offering a unique blend of natural wonders. From lush meadows to panoramic views of the Rockies, these trails create a desirable outdoor experience at residents' doorsteps. For those considering moving to Okotoks or current inhabitants looking to explore the area further, the town presents a wonderful opportunity to meld modern living with the serene embrace of nature.