It is well known around Edmonton that to get a good shot or view of fall colours, one must head towards North Saskatchewan River Valley. The mature and varied trees in our river valley create epic fall scenery, no doubt; but along with those locations, there are a few other hidden gems in Edmonton covered with mature and forest.
Be sure to visit all the vantage points you can! Many of these spots can be viewed from above before or after exploring the trails within.
Big Bear Park
This is one of Edmonton’s smaller ravines, with a dirt trail taking you the entire length of the ravine. You can first get a view from above in the residential area on Bearspaw Dr. W NW which is also an off-leash dog park. When you venture down into the Blackmud Ravine, you can head south towards the Henday or northwest towards 111th Street. Both ways offer more picturesque and colourful settings over the small creek.
MacKinnon Ravine Park
Begin your adventure with a stroll through Old Glenora, first. The historic houses and streets are lined with massive trees and shrubs that are older than the buildings. From up here, you can view the large MacKinnon Ravine that leads west toward Stony Plain Road, or east toward downtown. A large wooden staircase on St. Georges Crescent provides access.
Ada Boulevard & Floden Park Swing
Ada Boulevard follows the north banks of the North Saskatchewan in east Edmonton’s Highlands neighbourhood. As you follow the road, there are historic buildings like the McGrath Mansion to one side, and the greens and yellows of mature forests to the other side. At the far east end of the road is river valley access to one of the city’s famous river valley swings!
While in the noise and chaos of downtown Edmonton, you can take a quick escape to the quieter residential streets of Oliver. In the fall each block of the neighbourhood is lined with perfect golden archways that create a scene that could be from a movie or painting. The Oliver area is also a hub for local food, restaurants, and cafes, so you might be able to catch a cup of coffee on a patio. Oliver borders 100th Avenue, where you can get a full view of the River Valley, the small forests in the golf course, and the High-Level Bridge.
For more lookouts and parks, see:
- 20+ Scenic Lookouts You Should Visit in Edmonton
- Must Visit Nature Attractions In And Around Edmonton
- 25 of the Best Hikes in and Around Edmonton
97th Street Trees in Griesbach
Each fall, you’ll notice something unusual on the side of the busy 97th Street. The sidewalks will be filled with those who know just how beautiful this area is in the fall, taking photos of the mature line of colour. All down 97th is a rainbow of warm fall colours that arch and bend in all sorts of directions. The large maple trees are a historic landmark, and around the neighbourhood of Griesbach you can spot odes to the area’s history as a military base.
Edmonton Larch Sanctuary
Edmonton’s Larch Sanctuary is one of many hidden urban locations that make you feel as though you’ve escaped to the wild. The easiest and most scenic route to the larches is via the parking lot on the south side of 23rd Avenue. Trails leading south will take you to the larch forest that surrounds a small pond.
Fredrick G. Todd Lookout
You can get a unique perspective of some of our skyline, river, and parklands, from the Fredrick G. Todd Lookout. When you walk on the platform, you can turn around and get magnificent views of the Hotel MacDonald and Telus Building framed by mature golden trees. And when you face south, you’re met with a sweeping view of the Low Level Bridge, and all the treetops of south Edmonton.
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Hawrelak’s river valley location allows for stunning views in the fall behind the park. But inside the park are acres worth of wetlands that are home to incredibly diverse fall foliage. The varied types of old, tall trees in Hawrelak make the fall colours rich and varied and provide numerous shady spots for picnics. A walk around the park’s pond can take about one to two hours and there is ample parking all throughout.
Alberta Legislature Grounds
One of the prettiest urban fall settings in Edmonton comes to us courtesy of our provincial Legislature Grounds and building. In the front, the concourse is decorated with mature trees that line and shade the benches. At the back of the building are more paths through the trees, a large hill for picnics, and more views of the river a short walk away.
Get all of downtown in one view, plus the Muttart pyramids, the downtown skyline, and the neighbourhoods at the bottom of the hills. From the Gallagher Park hill you’ll get a wide array of tree-top colours stretching east to west. The hill is a wonderful spot to watch a just-as-colourful fall sunset.
Come to Old Strathcona in the fall for a perfect blend of urban scenery and fall colours. Along Whyte Avenue and smaller residential streets, the golden and red trees arch over the walkways creating a perfect frame of colour. While you’re here enjoying the scenery, you’ll have your pick of several local cafes to stop in at for a cozy cup of coffee or tea.
University of Alberta
As a 100+ year-old campus, the U of A is home to gorgeous historic buildings, modern architecture, and dozens of mature and lush trees. Come fall, the campus is busy again with students as well of the falling of all fall colours: reds, organs, yellows, and deep purples. The campus is worth a stroll around in the fall, especially if you’re already on Whyte Avenue or in Old Strathcona. And directly behind campus are more views of downtown, the river, and the High-Level Bridge.
Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge
The massive trees you’ll pass through to get to the bridge are painted a bright golden yellow this time of year and create a lovely arch before the bridge. There are several photo opportunities between the east and west sides of the river, as well as on the bridge.
Climb atop the Wolf Willow Stairs afterwards for an all-encompassing view of the fall colours next to the river.
(from the Wolf Willow Stairs)
Under the Rainbow Valley Bridge is the small Whitemud Ravine that stretches south towards Blue Quill, and north towards North Saskatchewan River. You can access parking from 119th Street and head out a quiet nature walk in either direction. The abundance of shrubbery along with the trees turns this area into a mix of purples, reds, greens, and golds each September/October.
The tall trees which canopy over Borden Park turn the area into a scenic spot on a sunny autumn day. While you’re here you can find several photo opportunities from the vibrant colours of the trees which frame several pieces of public art. The art installations themselves are quite colourful too! This could be a great spot to lay a blanket and enjoy a book or a picnic on the grass.