#19 – Canadian Rockies Day Hikes: Beaver Boardwalk Trail
- Location: Hinton, Alberta
- Trailhead: Beaver Boardwalk
- Type: Loop
- Rating: Easy
- Total Distance: 1.5 miles
- Trailhead Elevation: 3,265′
- Total Elevation Gain: 250′
- Recommended Time: 1 hour
- Recommended Season: Year Round (Near sunrise or sunset)
Beaver Boardwalk Trail
The Beaver Boardwalk Trail at Maxwell Lake is located in the town of Hinton, Alberta on the eastern edge of the Canadian Rockies. It is the only hike on our list of the best day hikes in the Canadian Rockies that isn’t in one of the provincial or national parks. However, this is an awesome hike and it is fitting to add to the list as it is the best place to spot the mascot for the Canadian National Parks System—the beaver. According to the Hinton City website, the small city park also has the distinction of housing the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world .
The furry engineer obviously isn’t responsible for the boardwalk itself, but rather an earthen dam that created a small pond adjacent to Maxwell Lake. The beaver’s hut stands in the middle of the pond and the boardwalk was perfectly constructed to cross over the pond. There is even an elevated platform for easy viewing of the beaver. The nocturnal creature usually emerges from its den at sunset to collect reeds and work on repairs. It can also often be seen at sunrise, prior to going in for a rest. While the park has 1.5 miles of trails, the stroll to the beaver pond is short and a great spot to spend a sunset or sunrise searching for the beaver family.
The boardwalk extends for exploration around Maxwell Lake. The trail skirts the water’s edges and there are a few elevated platforms. This pathway is a great place to spot waterfowl, other wildlife and birds. In addition, the trail system goes beyond the boardwalks into the surrounding woods.
Use the provided Google map to find the parking area for the Beaver Boardwalk Trail. It is located inside of a Hinton subdivision. For us, it felt like a very odd place to be seeking nature as we passed by school buses and rolled over speed bumps. The parking lot is adjacent to a small housing complex, but once we were on the path nature quickly envelops the area.
The Beaver’s World
The beaver boardwalk is a great way to access the area without disturbing the natural habitat of the beaver. The boardwalk has been built for a close-up look at the beaver’s dam and the protective pond that this intentionally creates. This might be the closest most humans ever get to a beaver’s engineered structure and they are a wonder of the natural world, making this one of the best day hikes in the Canadian Rockies.