There are tens of thousands of square kilometres of wilderness to explore around Fort Smith and in the nearby parkland.
Many trails in the community are situated along the Slave River and have stunning lookout points along the way. All four sets of Slave River rapids are accessible by hiking, cycling, skiing, and snowshoeing. For more detailed information on these trails please check out our Trail Maps !
The main Riverside Trails include:
- Thebacha Trail - This 5 km multi-use trail winds through Fort Smith from Queen Elizabeth Campground to Axe Handle Hill.
- Rapids of the Drowned - This short hike (2-3 km) hike is located right downtown and is the best spot to see American White Pelicans close up! The hike leads you to an outcropping of rocks next to the rapids. Another must-do hike while you are in Fort Smith between May and September.
- Mountain Portage Loop - A must-do hike that provides stunning views of the rapids, the American White Pelican nesting sanctuary as well as the nearby sandy beaches with warm water.
- Pelican Rapids Trail - An 8 km out and back trail that lets you enjoy the view of the largest set of rapids on the Slave River! The trail winds its way through Jackpine forest and over sandy ridges.
- Trans-Canada Trail - This 30 km trail runs from Fort Fitzgerald to downtown Fort Smith along the south bank of the Slave River. It is popular with cross country skiiers and mountain bikers.
- Fitzgerald Loop - Explore historic Fort Fitzgerald at the head of the rapid corridor. Cassette rapids can be seen along this loop.
- Twin Towers Trail Network - The tower trails provide excellent terrain for snowmachines and ATV's, as well as mountain bikes and nordic skiiers with dogs.
Wood Buffalo National Park Trails
Canada’s largest national park is just a short drive from Fort Smith and is the breathtaking backdrop to seven hiking tails of varying difficulty levels. For more information contact Wood Buffalo National Park at (867) 872- 7960.
- Karstland Loop (Easy) – 780 metres – See spectacular examples of karst topography, including active sinkholes, on this short interpretive trail. Begin at the Salt River Day-use Area.
- Benchmark Creek Trail (Easy to moderate) – 8.5 kilometres one way – Salt takes center stage on this looped trail as it passes the salt flats at Grosbeak Lake. Wildlife leave tracks in the crystalized salt, which is evidence of an ancient seabed. Rocks are eroded into unreal shapes by the unique combination of salt and frost they experience every year. Begin at Salt River on the east side of Pine Lake Road. A 20-minute shortcut is available by starting 2.4 kilometres past the Salt River Day-use Area, on the east side of Pine Lake Road.
- Salt River Meadows (Easy) – 2.2 kilometre loop – Trail trekkers follow a saline stream and enjoy beautiful wildflower meadows. Begin at Salt River on the east side of Pine Lake Road.
- Lakeside Trail (Easy) – 3.1 kilometres one way – Begin at Pine Lake Recreation Area. Pine Lake was created by a series of five adjacent sinkholes and is spring-fed by underground water sources. The trail follows the lakeshore through an aspen and spruce forest and connects to the trailhead for Lane Lake.
- Lane Lake Trail (Moderate) – 6.5 kilometres one-way – Follow the trail into the heart of the boreal forest along a chain of small sinkhole lakes, ending at a large, clear sinkhole lake called Lane Lake.
- Salt Pan Lake Trail (Moderate) – 7.0 kilometres one way – Reach the top of an escarpment for a scenic view of Salt Pan Lake, sinkholes, and the Keg River geological formation. Keep an eye out for fossil-bearing rocks. Begin at the Salt River Day-use Area or 2.4 kilometres down the road on the west side of Pine Lake Road.
- Salt Plains Access (Moderate) – 350 metres – Take this switchback trail from the Salt Plains Viewpoint to the salt plains below. Animal tracks mix with your own as you tread lightly along the fragile crystalized salt. You’ll also see saline springs, salt-tolerant plants, and salt mounds.
Ski and Biathalon Trails
The Fort Smith Ski Club & Nordic Centre maintains a network of groomed trails suitable for light touring, skate skiing, and backcountry skiing. The trails offer panoramic views of the Slave River and surrounding boreal forest. Begin at the Ski Club Chalet, 4 kilometres east of Fort Smith on Highway 5. For more information: https://www.fortsmith.ca/attraction/fort-smith-ski-club-nordic-centre
Important Note on Dog Team Trails:
Several people in Fort Smith run dog teams, either as part of a traditional lifestyle or as a recreational pastime. Often, dog teams share trails with hikers, cyclists, skiers, snowmobilers, ATV drivers and dirt bike drivers. However, most trails used by dog teams are outside the limits of the town of Fort Smith.
Dog teams are run in the winter using sleds and in the summer using ATVs. If you encounter a dog team, it is important to give the team the right of way. Make sure the musher sees you then leave the trail and allow the team to pass. Always keep your dog on a leash when using trails frequented by dog teams. Off-leash dogs and dog teams can be a lethal combination for the dogs involved.