If you feel the need to get out of Jasper and escape to a bigger city, your options are limited. The nearest place that can even come close to being considered a city is Hinton, Alberta, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Jasper. Just how big is it? Well, it has a Walmart.
I drove around Hinton and didn’t see much that excited me. The town has two business districts — one near the Yellowhead Highway, Route 16, and the other in the valley below it. I drove through both, and neither one gave me any reason to stop.
But I did find one place that’s worth stopping in Hinton: the Beaver Boardwalk.
The Beaver Boardwalk is located at the edge of a residential area, south of Highway 16. Look for the Boston Pizza, and turn south on Mountain Street, then follow the signs.
There are a couple of parking areas on side streets, and if you’re visiting in winter, you should have no trouble finding a spot.
Above, you see one of the trailheads, off of Collinge Road, that allows you to access the Beaver Boardwalk. Walk over the piles of snow, and you’ll find a trail that connects to the elevated boardwalks.
I’ll admit, March is not the best time of year to visit the Beaver Boardwalk. It’s highly unlikely that you would see a beaver at this time of year. Happy Creek and Maxwell Lake are frozen solid throughout the winter.
[tmt_info =””]Beaver blogger Rick Bonar reported seeing the first beavers of the year, in early April 2012, just about a week after my visit. He says the beavers used their teeth to chisel a hole in the ice, allowing them to escape from their lodge. Then, they used those teeth to widen the hole, making a loud chiseling noise that could be heard throughout the area. He also reported that Maxwell Lake was free of ice by the end of April. You can check outBonar’s blog for the latest happenings at the Beaver Boardwalk.[/tmt_info]
So, the beavers were all hiding for the winter. And the weather was grey and snowy. So what? The Beaver Boardwalk still provided a great place to go for a walk in the snow. There are 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of boardwalks here, as well as other trails through the surrounding woods.
And on this day, the fresh snow had nicely powdered all of the evergreens and other trees and shrubs.
In addition to the boardwalk, there’s also an observation tower, that provides a nice view of everything in the area.
After enjoying a satisfactory amount of walking in the snow, and taking pictures of the powdered plant life, I headed back to the car. I didn’t know of anything else to do in Hinton, especially under the ugly grey skies. So I decided to drive back towards Jasper, with a couple of detours along the way.
[tmt_info =””]If you’re not quite satisfied with your big-city visit to Hinton, it’s a very long drive to the next big place, Edmonton. From Hinton, Edmonton is 290 kilometers, or about 3 hours away.[/tmt_info]