Athabasca Landing Trail Attractions




Athabasca (2006 population 2,575) is a town in northern Alberta, Canada. It lies 145 kilometres (90 mi) north of Edmonton on Highway 2, on the banks of the Athabasca River. It is the centre of Athabasca County. Until 1913 it was known as Athabasca Landing.

Athabasca (also Athabaska) is an anglicized version of the Cree name for Lake Athabasca in Canada, āthap-āsk-ā-w, meaning "grass or reeds here and there". The Town of Athabasca was founded in 1911. Its motto is: Gateway to the New North.

Visitors can go on a self-guided tour and explore historic buildings including the Athabasca United Church and Old Brick School, both constructed in the early 1900s. Walk along Rotary Way and learn about the history and significance of the mighty Athabasca River, once used for transportation during the fur trade and gold rush. Today, Athabasca is leading the way in distance education at the Athabasca University, providing programs for students across North America and around the world. Arts and culture are prominent during the Athabasca Country Fringe Festival (music and drama) and the River Rats Music Festival.



Unlike many other towns in Alberta, Athabasca predates the railway. It was the terminus of the Edmonton to Athabasca Landing trail. Athabasca lies on a southern protrusion of the Athabasca River. During the fur trade era, when rivers were the principal means of transportation, the Athabasca–Edmonton trail connected two different drainage basins. The Athabasca River flows north and is part of the Mackenzie River watershed, which leads to the Arctic Ocean. Edmonton lies across a height-of-land on the North Saskatchewan River in the Nelson River drainage basin, which empties into Hudson Bay. The trail allowed goods to be portaged back and forth between river systems. Once agricultural settlement occurred the trail served a similar purpose. Eventually road and rail links would trace the same path.

The Athabasca Heritage Society has put up signs through the downtown as well as along the riverfront that explain and depict the history. It has also published a historical walking tour that is available from the town office, library and visitor information centre.


Trails and Walkways

Enjoy the Riverfront Boardwalk and the interpretive signage along the Rotary Way, which runs on the south bank of the mighty Athabasca River. A paved portion of Rotary Way is wheelchair accessible, and also available for walkers, bike riders, and careful skateboarders. Picnic tables and benches placed along the walk make an ideal stopping place to watch the river or have a lunch break. Parking is plentiful, and access is ideal for campers and RVs. Enjoy the local shrubs, wildflowers, and boreal trees. Visit the Tourist Booth, gaze at the murals, and catch the perennial flowerbed established by the Athabasca Heritage Society in fall 2001.

If you would like to ski or run in the Boreal forest, or just enjoy a stroll in the woods, try the Muskeg Creek trail system at the west side of Town. In winter months, over 17 kilometres of cross country ski trails (1.2 km lighted) are maintained and groomed by the Athabasca Nordic Ski Club. Enter at the Muskeg Creek Chalet by the Landing Trail Intermediate School or at Athabasca University.

After a long winter, the trails double as running loops for Athabasca's joggers and fitness minded, and paths for those who enjoy bird watching and nature appreciation. Also a challenging mountain bike ride.

For additional information, go to

Athabasca Interpretive Sign

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