Amisk Wuche Trail (elk Island) - 2.9km Loop (Easy)
Personally I thought this was an interesting little trail but don’t ask me how to pronounce it. (Sarah side note: In Cree, Amisk Wuche is the name for the Beaver Hills). There was enough change of scenery to keep you interested the entire time. The trail takes you across floating boardwalks, through marshland and along beaver ponds, as well as through upland forest. There is a well marked parking lot near Astotin Lake on the other side of the road where the trail begins. Today’s guest hiker was my dad who entertained Sarah while I tried out some new photography techniques.
From the start it was clear that the trail was pretty wet from the spring melt. This in turn caused us to meet lots of little frog friends that Sarah almost stepped on about a million times. I noted that there were no chickadees anywhere, but their singing was replaced by the constant croaking of frogs.
From the parking lot you walk through an aspen forest, where we saw and heard a downy woodpecker. A short way into the trail you cross a boardwalk over a small lake. In this opening we saw a blue heron as well as many beaver lodges and a muskrat. Once you cross the boardwalk bridge you will continue through a forest switching from aspen to spruce and back.
The trail then crossed back and forth across various little ponds before returning to the forest. One thing that we saw along the trail was lots of bison dung (which Sarah found disgustingly huge) and tracks. It really makes you appreciate how big those animals are when the tracks are a couple of centimetres deep where we don’t even break through. We saw no actual bison on the trail but saw plenty in the bison paddock and along the road. Sarah was hoping to see a beaver today and it seemed like a good place to see one. There was lots of recent beaver activity all along the trail but sadly no sightings, however we did see three muskrats along our walk.
I ended up experimenting with my camera quite a bit on this trail as I recently got a new polarizing filter. This is where my dad came in handy as Sarah has limited patience for things such as exploring compositional elements. While I was off photographing a stream or some moss they would talk about trees. (Sarah side note: we talked a lot about differentiating aspen from poplar from birch. Also, this trail was full of beaked hazelnut starting to flower. Hazelnut has separate male and female flowers. The females are strange but beautiful tiny pink flowers, and we had fun knocking pollen out of the male flowers as we walked by!) This system seemed to work well for most of the trail, although I think Sarah did get bored at the end.
I would rate this trail a 5.5 or 6 out of 10. It’s a decent trail that doesn't try to be too much. The nice thing is that just when your getting bored of your current scene you’ll turn a corner and bam(!) different trees or a new pond to look at. The thing holding it back from being rated higher is that there is no big draw to make you recommend it to someone. It’s a nice walk in the woods with a couple of ponds and that’s about it. If you are looking to find beavers it would likely be a good place to do so.