I respectfully acknowledge that the land in and around Lac La Biche County is located within the Treaty 8 Territory, the ancestral and traditional territories of the Beaver Lake Cree, Michif Piyii (Métis), Cree people.
My Dad took us out on an off-trail hiking trip one afternoon through a rich, biodiverse forest on crown land that very few people (if any) have set foot in. This place isn’t on the map as a hike, there are no trail reports, and I’d be surprised if there are any other photos of this place on the internet of than the ones below. Heck, it isn’t really even a trail! We drove down a winding gravel road with twists and turns until we arrived at our destination. There was no trailhead, and no marking of where we were going – just going to a spot based off my Dad’s memory.
We put on our packs and walked into the forest, heading north into the unknown. Hiking down wild game trails, and carving our own path when the game trails became less prominent. We crossed over fallen trees, carefully across water and muddy sections, on exploding puffballs, and ducking through dark, mossy forest making our way through wild rose bushes that grabbed onto our clothes, and poked into our skin. My hair was brushed through with evergreen branches, and I was still finding sticks in my hair hours later. One branch even made its way into the palm of my hand when I was crossing a sketchy section and used a tree to brace myself – ouch!
This was a great adventure to someplace I wasn’t able to google ahead of time (even with my pro searching skills) to research down to the very last detail (which I normally do in preparation for the majority of hikes I head out on. What can I say? I like to be prepared!) Hiking off-trail is something I rarely do anymore, but as a kid that is really all I ever did (with my parents when we used to go shed hunting, blueberry picking, to learn navigation skills, or just for a fun walk in the woods).
Off-trail hiking gives you a different perspective and experience than being on a trail, you can choose your own trail and go where the landscape catches your eye creating an adventure unique to you. It can be a bit more challenging though (walking over fallen trees for a couple hours is hard work!), there are no bridges to cross over rivers, or barriers to keep you out of danger. But it is so rewarding! You can see things you may not have been able to otherwise, the details are right in your face (don’t follow to close to the person in front of you, or they will literally be in your face as the tree branch slaps you in the forehead – I’m speaking from experience here!) And most importantly, you do need to ensure your safety and be prepared for any situation. (In this case, my Dad has been to this location before, is a great navigator, we had GPS’s, compasses, walkie-talkies and our 10 essentials in case something happened.)
Scroll down to see more photos of our hike!
Until next time, chase the stoke!
- My definition of off-trail hiking is that where you head out to the backcountry and hike. NOT by going off a well-established trail creating a shortcut, or trampling over protected lands. Please check with your local rules and regulations before you hike off-trail.