We went for a walk at Chickakoo Lake in search of interesting birds to photograph. While we didn’t see much in the way of birds—not even that many chickadees!—we did have an exciting hike full of slips and laughs, although it did have a slightly tragic end.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, Chickakoo Lake is a 480 acre recreation area in Parkland County with 11km of trails through woods and around lakes. In the summer it is popular for hiking and trail running, and in winter there are groomed cross country ski tracks. In the summer you can fish at Chickakoo Lake and there are picnic areas and firepits, too! I really like Chickakoo Lake as it gets you out of the city without too much driving, and really isn’t very busy. You can access more info and a trail map here: https://www.parklandcounty.com/en/live-and-play/Parks-Trails-and-Natural-Areas.aspx?_mid_=7748.
Our hike was about 6 km. Each trail is marked with numbered markers, shown in the photo below, and I have included them for reference if you want to follow the path we did. The markers are identified on the trail map making it easy to follow along. For example, Indian Ridge trail starts at trail marker 1 and then counts up 1.2, 1.3, etc. It’s really nice for someone like me who has zero sense of direction. From the parking lot we started off on the Indian Ridge trail, following the trail in order from 1 to 1.3, where it meets up with Nature’s Way trail at 2.9. We followed Nature’s Way trail north until we reached trail marker 3: the start of the Woodland Lookout trail.
It was a pretty gloomy day, the kind where the sun keeps trying to break through the clouds but just can’t. Nevertheless, we had good company and it is really is a peaceful, quiet trail system. We only encountered three other groups in the couple hours we spent hiking, and a couple runners as well (brave souls!). After trail marker 3.4 things started to get interesting as we encountered some steep slopes. I scoffed at the sign that said “Elevation” ahead, but I quickly realized it was no joke.
I’m not sure my camera really did this hill justice, but it was STEEP. Icy on the way down and muddy on the way up! Here’s a picture of our friend Emily getting stuck in the mud on her way up.
And here’s a view looking back at another group starting to navigate the hill. I believe this is in the area called “The Sling Shot” on the trail map. There were a couple other steep sections along the Woodland Lookout trail but I would say this was the most fun.
Not far after that big hill we hit a really nice picnic spot (between trail marker 3.4 and 3.5). This would be great in the summer if you brought along lunch.
We continued along the trail, which skirts Little Mere Lake, to Woodlands Lookout, just past trail marker 3.6. There is a pretty steep climb up to the lookout, but well worth it. The lookout provides a nice view out of over lakes and forest, and there is a bench and picnic table. We stopped here to enjoy the view and some snacks.
Afterwards we continued off along the trail, and encountered another icy and muddy hill to get down…
At the end of the trail (marker 3.7) we carried on back to the start of the Woodland Lookout trail, but instead of turning left to do another loop we turned right onto Nature’s Way trail. We followed Nature’s Way along Kettle Lake to the trail junction, then turned right towards marker 2.4 to follow the trail along the southern edge of Dog Leg Pond.
We met up with Indian Ridge trail and followed it back to the parking lot. Overall, lovely hike in a serene forest environment! However, I would recommend either coming here in winter or summer, not the shoulder season. It was very mucky and icy due to melting snow, and there wasn’t a lot of wildlife around.
Are you wondering about the tragedy that befell us?! Well, unfortunately the vehicle was broken into and a window smashed while we were out hiking. While a sad reminder that bad things can happen anywhere, it was a good lesson about keeping valuables out of sight. Braedyn handled it like a champ, and we drowned our sorrows in Tims and tacos afterwards. All in all a good day, and I feel that there will forever be tiny glass shards in the vehicle to remind us of Chickakoo Lake.