Adventure in Edmonton: Fort Edmonton Footbridge & Wolf Willow Ravine

Last year the City of Edmonton completed work on the new Fort Edmonton Footbridge. In addition to the bridge, the $28.2 million project included 2.5 km of access trails and stairs and a secondary bridge crossing at Wolf Willow Ravine. The design was selected to achieve the objective of “better design in a world class city.” Here’s what it looks like (from the east side looking west):

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

David Staples wrote about the new bridge in August, and both Sharon and I made a note of the article at the time. He wrote:

“The most beautiful structure you’ve not yet seen in Edmonton, the new Fort Edmonton Footbridge, now spans the North Saskatchewan River. It is a testament to the city’s new vision to invest in attractive infrastructure, not just the same old ugly.”

We had to see it for ourselves! A number of other recent “sightings” only increased our desire to check it out (a friend’s wedding photos and one of EIFF’s 24/ONE videos were shot there). Last weekend we finally made time to go. I fired up Google, and quickly arrived at this page on the City’s website. I was looking for an address or directions or something, but all that page offers is the following:

The footbridge crosses the North Saskatchewan River upstream of Fort Edmonton Park and affords a connection between the new multi-use Trans Canada Trail around Fort Edmonton Park and new park land purchased on the west side of the river (Centennial Lands) in 2007.

There’s also a link to this PDF map which shows the proposed design, not the final result. And because it’s a satellite image without labels, figuring out which route to take to get to the bridge is anything but simple. Thankfully, Google does show the crossing:

We still weren’t entirely sure how to get there, but at least that map narrowed it down. It looked closer to park at the end of Whitemud Road (yes, ignoring the no parking signs) and walk rather than driving into Wolf Willow, so that’s what we did. There’s probably a better way to get there. Oh how we need trail maps data in the data catalogue!

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

The drive/walk to the bridge was interesting, as the neighbourhood is full of mansions! The trail from Whitemud Road to the bridge is situated in between two very large houses. Must be nice to have the bridge in your backyard!

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

The bridge itself is beautiful. As you can see it is highest in the middle, so the incline upward from each shore combined with the cables gives it a nice effect in photos.

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

I’m also a fan of the asymmetrical layout, with one of these lookout points on the northwest side of the bridge and another on the southeast.

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

The trail to Wolf Willow Ravine on the west side of the bridge is very pretty. There were a bunch of photographers using the trail when we visited, including one taking what appeared to be engagement photos for a young couple.

Wolf Willow Ravine

I had no idea Wolf Willow Ravine even existed until our trip. It was a crisp and cool when we were there, and so quiet. Sharon remarked that she felt like we were in Banff – it was certainly a different side of Edmonton than we’re used to seeing!

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

You can see the rest of my photos here. Go visit the Fort Edmonton Footbridge when you get a chance. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, but it’s worth it!

  • Guidemd

    For anyone looking for directions from the west side, the paths to the footbridge are actually quite well laid out on the city’s walking map for the area http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/RioTerraceWalkingMap.pdf – unfortunately and confusingly, the map that has “Westridge, Wolf Willow, Country Club, Rio Terrace, Patricia Heights, Quesnell Heights” on its cover is only listed as “Rio Terrace Walking Map” in the list on the city’s website, so if you don’t look more closely to see the other communities listed (and if you didn’t know that there’s a path from Rio that connects there as well/that Rio is adjacent to Westridge-Wolf Willow) then you’d miss it. 

    We were there today – parked on Woodward Crescent as the path down from there is a gradual hill, rather than the stairs down from Westridge where my parents live (and we didn’t want to do stairs with two 2-year-olds).  To add to the confusion, this is one of the areas where street names/neighbourhood names/developers names don’t really match up – Wolf Willow Crescent (where one end of the path comes out) is actually in the Westridge neighbourhood, yet the Wolf Willow neighbourhood has none of the streets named “Wolf Willow” and on official city maps is actually called “Oleskiw”.  In any case, there is on-street parking in various areas on Woodward Crescent (one trailhead) or on Wolf Willow Crescent (another trailhead), but the residents were certainly worried about the lack of designated parking and potential traffic when the trail/bridge was being discussed.  We parked beside an empty lot to avoid annoying any residents 😉

    • Thanks very much for the information! Confusing indeed!

  • Tommy Smith

    Many areas on the map in the PDF are missing: First of all the area where you are allowed off-leash should be marked, and the northern-most stairs have no sign of being built (that’s a good thing-it would require crossing a stream, going up a cliff and over a dirt trail kids play on), also, if you head south down 156 street into Rio Terrace and turn left at the last road before it dead-ends on private property you will see yet another extension of Patricia Ravine. It’s a dirt trail and splits into two. The first path dead ends at a humorously placed No Exit sign, the other has you walking over a sandstone cliff that looks a lot like Drumheller (it even has mini hoodoos) and ends on the proposed gravel trail alongside the river. The southernmost stairs also have no sign of being built. There is also two trails coming out of the old Country Club trail – one is the dirt trail I was talking about earlier that kids play on and the stairs would have to cross – it also has a dangerous wood bridge (walk around it). The other continues into a split trail – one goes up to Wold Willow and the other goes into Patricia, near the school there. The old Country Club trail also continues behind the school and back in a loop.

    The best place to park I am guessing is in the Westridge area where that proposed gravel trail sticks out onto the road. That also is another thing missing from the map – that long proposed gravel trail that is straight sticking out into Westridge has a sidewalk going all the way to Wolf Willow Road and the school there.

    They really need to fix up this map!

    EDIT: They should also show the borderline between Patricia and Wolf Willow Ravines!

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  • Mark

    Its just like the brilliant edmonton city planners to spend $28M on a bridge no one can find or get to … Lets raise our taxes so we can do this again!

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