Explore Edmonton by Bike and Connect to Nature
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This summer, ZenSeekers has teamed up with Destination Canada to help you find your path to new adventures, connecting urban and outdoor experiences by bike!
Did you know Edmonton is home to the largest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America? With more than 160 kilometres of maintained pathways and 20 major parks, it's actually larger than Central Park in New York City! This network of trails allows you to travel from urban settings riding dedicated bike paths to river valley trails surrounded by dense forest, crossing unique bridges, visiting local businesses, and snapping photos at iconic city landmarks along the way.
So much can happen when you take to exploring a city by bike! You’ll uncover nooks and crannies you can’t get to by car, gain quick access to local businesses, “meet” countless pedestrians, pups, and other cyclists, and feel that glorious wind in your hair as you ride. Every time I explore Edmonton by bike, I end up on a new trail or path I didn’t realize even existed. It’s an amazing feeling, and even better when you’re able to do it in the Edmonton river valley.
This isn’t an adventure exclusively for cycling pros! The beauty of biking here is that it’s for everybody (and every body)—though grabbing an electric bike rental definitely helps ensure you’ll go faster and farther than you ever thought possible (while breaking the least amount of sweat).
Need more biking inspiration? Meet Edmonton cyclist and bike reporter Karly Coleman, who has been biking in the city for over 20 years. I went on a ride around town with Karly where she shared with me why she loves biking Edmonton, and why you should plan to bike the city too!
We picked up our e-bike rentals at the River Valley Adventure Co. in downtown Edmonton (located at stunning Louise McKinney Riverfront Park), and rode over to Ezio Faraone Park, which overlooks Edmonton's High Level Bridge, a steel truss bridge that sits 49 metres above the North Saskatchewan River and spans 755 metres across the river, linking south Edmonton to downtown.
(Pro tip: cross the bridge at night for a unique experience as the bridge becomes illuminated via 60,000 LED bulbs that change colour depending on holidays or special requests).
“Edmonton by bike is super versatile,” Karly tells me. “You have a nice mix of river valley bike trails, including awesome single track and separated bike lanes or low-traffic routes that are signed and suitable for biking for your whole family.
If you want to stop at the side of the path, race to the end of the trail, chat with people along the way, pet all the dogs, eat ice cream, pastries or indulge in a wee tipple, biking in Edmonton is for you because you are in complete control of your route, the speed, the destination, and you don’t need to worry about parking!”
As we head to 124 Street on our bikes to pick up a take-out picnic package from local restaurant Tiramisu Bistro, Karly shares some other great neighbourhoods to visit by bike.
“Want to cycle to a trendy neighbourhood? Whyte Ave, Downtown, 124 Street are all accessible by bicycle. Want to spend time in a park or the river valley or other green space? There are any number of paths in the river valley that will take you to Hawrelak, Emily Murphy, Terwilliger, and Rundle Parks, plus everywhere in between,” she shares.
“Want to indulge in culinary delights? You can start out in the Italian Quarter for breakfast, hit up Chinatown for lunch and head over to your favourite resto or gastro-pub downtown for supper.”
Our biking adventure takes us down to Hawrelak Park for a picnic by the lake. We visit the Indigenous Art Park and head over to Walterdale Hill overlooking the iconic Walterdale Bridge. We head over to Old Strathcona for an ice cream break from Yelo’d Ice Cream & Bake Shoppe.
“There are so many places for people to go and ways for them to get there, a person on a bike can mix it up, spend part of the time in the river valley then pop out and use Edmonton’s biking infrastructure to go to where they want,” Karly says.
“The journey is as much fun as the destination, so for me, being able to encounter nature, other people, and all the doggos.”
Since Edmonton is home to North America’s largest connected urban parkland, there’s a lot of nature to enjoy in the city. Riding through the forested Mill Creek Ravine felt like we had disappeared from the city—a surprising nature getaway right in our urban centre.
“Hanging out in forests is good for our stress levels and our mental health. Getting to nature by bicycle increases our activity levels, which helps our physical health. Experiencing nature is healthy for us,” Karly says riding under a canopy of trees in the ravine.
Best of all? Karly says cycling is pretty accessible for a wide range of people. And the more you bike, the more likely you’ll continue to bike, and before you know it you’ll go farther, and faster (especially if you use e-bikes like we did!) and explore more of Edmonton than you ever had before—whether you’ve lived here forever or are just visiting for a day or a weekend.
WHEN YOU VELO
- Check out Destination Canada's top 10 Edmonton attractions, and plot your route!
- For more suggestions and itineraries, read Linda Hoang’s Guide to Biking Edmonton, including even more landmark and food suggestions you can plan your ride around! [LINK TO LINDA'S BLOG]