Root for Trees is Protecting Edmonton’s Scenic River Valley
Root for Trees, an Emerald Award-winning program run by the City of Edmonton, focuses on engaging the community in maintaining and expanding Edmonton’s urban forest canopy. The upkeep of Edmonton’s urban forest is great for both the environment and the community, but for the City of Edmonton, the project is also tied to one of the city’s greatest treasures: the North Saskatchewan river valley. The river valley is a huge expanse of green space that crosses the whole city and is part of the lifeblood of Edmonton. Due to its huge size, the river valley is easily accessible to most Edmontonians and makes up many of the city’s day-to-day activities.
The Edmonton river valley is enormous
The Edmonton river valley is the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America. The second largest in North America is New York’s Central Park, a whopping 22 times smaller than the Edmonton river valley! The river valley has 275 paved paths and sidewalks for cyclists and an additional 460 kilometres of unpaved single track and unimproved trails. Even people who have made it a goal to explore every inch of the river valley will still find themselves on trails and paths they have never been on if they poke around enough. Not only are there a huge amount of paths to walk on but there are creeks, bridges of all kinds, hills, stairs, and a multitude of amazing viewpoints, which all make the river valley truly something that can be endlessly explored.
There’s so much to do!
In addition to its size, the Edmonton river valley is also important because of the many year-round activities it offers. The valley is great for walking, jogging and biking around its trails, and it’s hard to go very long on any of the paths without seeing someone out for some exercise at any time of day. Its scenic views also make it perfect for photography, both for amateurs and professionals alike.
The River Valley Alliance (RVA), a group dedicated to the maintenance and enjoyment of the river valley, also organizes events like geocacheing, in which participants use GPS to locate containers (called caches) hidden all across the valley. River City Adventure Co. is another group organizing activities around the Edmonton river valley. They offer rafting, paddle-boarding, canoeing and even segway tours!
The Edmonton river valley has iconic places
The Edmonton river valley is full of spots that serve as gathering places for those who live nearby and hidden treasures for people exploring the valley. Here’s a couple of examples of some more well-known spots in the river valley:
- The Accidental Beach: a stretch of sand that was formed near the Cloverdale neighbourhood by the LRT construction shifting the flow of the river. People flocked to the spot in droves this summer to appreciate its novelty and to enjoy the river valley.
- The End of the World: an unofficial lookout point in the Belgravia neighbourhood and a favourite hangout spot for locals. The amazing view of the river valley it offers has made it so popular that the city is improving its accessibility by installing railings and other features to make it more safe.
The Edmonton river valley is a big part of the city’s identity and the daily lives of its citizens. The huge network of paths and locations is one of the city’s proudest points. In engaging the community to learn and upkeep green space in Edmonton, Root for Trees is expanding the river valley and making it possible for Edmontonians to interact with it in new ways.