Closer to Home: Gold Bar Park

Editor’s note: Once a week for the next bit here at Transforming Edmonton we’re sharing some of our favourite places in the city. The pandemic has shortened the travel horizon for many. And that’s okay, because there are plenty of gems in different parts of our city that are worth a visit. Each week a different City of Edmonton team member gives you a story about a fave spot closer to home. This is Sonya Jongsma Knauss’s view.

I was cautiously exploring a paved path that led to a dirt path that narrowed and started curving through the woods, suddenly lost in a magical woodland in the middle of the city.

Gold Bar Park, Edmonton

The sound of cars faded into the distance. Birdsong and dragonflies and dirt and green trees filled my senses.

I pulled up short, heart racing, when I saw scat on the path. Could it be…a bear?

Okay, this city girl—I was then a visitor to Edmonton looking for a place to live after a job offer came through—didn’t have any idea how to identify bear scat four years ago. It was probably deer, in retrospect.

Heart beating a little faster, I kept exploring.

Soon, I ran into a group of runners and asked if I could join them. I figured there was safety in numbers. A few of them were chatty and welcoming. They’re still among my dear friends today.

I had no idea where I was that morning in 2016, but I felt welcomed.

A few of the people I ran with in 2016, taking a water break in Capilano Park.

Looking back at my GPS map, I covered quite a bit of ground between Capilano and Gold Bar parks on that day in 2016.

As we prepared to move to Edmonton back in those days, the thrill of Gold Bar and Capilano parks—you can get away from the city in the heart of the city and there are friendly, fast runners in Edmonton who run the trails year-round—was just icing on the cake about this place.

I had no idea then how many times I would go on to visit Gold Bar Park, and how much life and laughter I’d spend with friends and family there.

Here’s a little slide show from the past four years.

Group runs in all seasons.

Watching my oldest daughter compete in Cross Country meets and earn a trip to the provincial championships.

Participating in trail and cross country races of my own, from 5 Peaks Trail Races to the open competition of Stewart Memorial Cross Country Cup.

(Photo cred to Andre Lessard, @body.inmotion)

Taking rejuvenating walks with my family when so many other things were temporarily closed due to COVID-19. There are many trails and hiking options, but this one was roughly an hour and about a four kilometre loop from the Gold Bar parking lot.

Most recently, I ran into the familiar Gold Bar parking lot to see an aid station set up by my husband and oldest daughter to cheer me on at kilometres 10 and 14 of the North Sun Ultra 50km virtual race in late July.

Gold Bar is a great base for a choose-your-own-adventure day. You can easily go south and run, hike or ski the trails in Gold Bar and Tiger Goldstick Park, head east and check out the trails leading toward Rundle Park, or go west to Capilano and explore the single-track and multi-use trails there.

It’s where I connected to this place.

You can find Gold Bar Park at 10955 50 Street.