Having had such a nice fall this year, we decided to explore the Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail at Pigeon Lake, Alberta, Canada. This is a small wildlife sanctuary on the north side of the lake with a short walking trail. Built in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary, the trail added to the Trans Canada Trail System.
The Graves Wildlife Sanctuary at Pigeon Lake is located north side of the lake. The North Trailhead is easily found at the southern end of Range Road 11. Here there is a small parking lot and an information sign. The Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail is about an hour's drive south of Edmonton. However, if you are already at Pigeon Lake, it is a 7min drive from the Village of Mulhurst, home of the Pigeon Lake Music Festival.
The Wildlife Sanctuary gets its name from the Graves family. Back in 1913, the Graves family bought the land for ranching. Eventually they grew the ranch to more than forty quarter sections including the land where the Wildlife Sanctuary is. The Graves family raised cattle, sheep, fox, and mink. Additionally, they opened a grocery store, gas station and telephone exchange in the area. in 1965, at the age of 100, Mr. Graves sold the ranch.
In 1996, a collective of cabin owners from the Summer Village of Argentia Beach on Pigeon Lake bought this section with the intention of preserving it. Whereas their goal was to protect the land from development it is also important for protecting the biodiversity of the area. As it is part of the Pigeon Lake watershed it plays a vital role in preserving the overall health of the lake too. The Summer Village donated the land to the province to have it establish the Graves Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2017, the Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail at Pigeon Lake was constructed as part of the Trans Canada Trail and connects with the Kiskayo Trail that goes around the lake.
The Graves Wildlife Sanctuary is a quite area. It is unlikely that you will encounter other people on the trail. The walking trail is an easy 2km loop. Altogether it takes about 30min to complete. The trail makes for a pleasant walk in the woods with quite a few benches to rest at along the trail. Although, most of the birds have flown south for the winter now, I imagine it would be a terrific location for birding during the summer. In addition to the north trailhead with a parking area, there is a south trailhead as well. This trailhead connects to the road that runs behind the cabins (or cottages as they call them out East). There is no parking lot at this end of the trail though. Dogs are welcome in the wildlife sanctuary however they must be on leash.
We enjoyed taking our dogs for a walk on the Graves Wildlife Sanctuary at Pigeon Lake. As a natural area it will be interesting to visit it throughout the seasons to see how it changes. I imagine it would be quite a nice area in the spring. When visiting the area, be sure to add the Graves Wildlife Sanctuary Trail at Pigeon Lake to your list of places to explore.
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