– Jeremy Derksen
What makes a great roadtrip? If abundant lakes, wide open spaces and hidden gems top your list, then you’ll want to look to northeast Alberta. Looping from Métis Crossing up to Athabasca, across to Lac La Biche, then Cold Lake and finally Vermilion, Kristina Martel and Myk Morris recently did the tour and came back wowed by what they experienced.
“There’s so much beauty in Alberta,” Martel reflects. “Even in just a few days, it was amazing – we tried so many new things and got to take a step back and really appreciate life.”
“Having time together, it’s nice to reconnect,” Myk adds, “and hidden gems are closer than you think!”
Here’s a look at how they did it, so you can discover a few hidden gems and roadtrip wonders of your own.
Discover Indigenous heritage at Métis Crossing
With heritage tours of the grounds, crafting, archery, music and dance, Métis Crossing presents a rich way to immerse in Métis tradition. Martel and Morris joined the Paddle Into the Past experience, testing their mettle by paddling a voyageur-style canoe.
Learn to paddleboard in Athabasca
Paddleboarding was a first for this couple, but with a lesson from Lisa Stocking of Paddle Athabasca, it’s smooth sailing. Stocking, a trained river guide, showed Martel and Morris how to be safe, get on and off, and paddle with coordination and power (hint: you need to put your hips into it). “It was very relaxing,” says Myk, “kind of like Zen on a lake.”
Hike Old Growth Forest in Lac La Biche
The forested island of Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park has a mature, peaceful feeling bestowed by the old trees that have been here hundreds of years. In one six-kilometre loop, hikers can admire ancient stands of forest, walk through saskatoon bowers, stroll over boardwalk and reach beaches and secluded viewpoints. Grab some paddleboards from Offroad Adventures for an even closer look at the pelicans who make their summer home here.
Hit the beach in Cold Lake
Kinosoo Beach, the main public beach in Cold Lake, is popular around the region for good reason: it’s hard to beat, from the finely sifted sandy beachfront to the volleyball courts, basketball courts, zipline, concession and watercraft rentals available on site. Martel and Morris grabbed some kayaks for a quick spin (and in Morris’ case, a quick dip too!).
Paddle a canoe on Vermilion Lake
With a provincial park bordering town, nature experiences are in easy walking distance of Vermilion’s Main Street. With a canoe from Burnt Rock Adventure Co., Martel and Morris got back in sync on the water, cruising the shoreline to watch for birds. With an art gallery, distillery, restaurants, cafes and fashion boutiques, the town also offers a great way to wind down your adventure with ease (and maybe take home a souvenir or two!).