William A Switzer Provincial Park
William A. Switzer Provincial Park is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. This 63 square kilometre park is a vast area of untouched forests, pure mountain lakes and rivers, dense pine forests, and a playground for all sorts of unique wildlife. The park is located just north of Jasper National Park, and sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can enjoy the invigorating clean air, the panoramic views of meadows, forests, and mountains, and the plethora of outdoor activities that await the adventurous in William A. Switzer Provincial Park.
William A. Switzer Provincial Park is located 20 minutes north of Hinton on Highway 40. It features 5 lakes, Gregg, Jarvis, Cache, Blue, and Graveyard. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, as well as groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing trails, and campgrounds with kitchen and shower facilities that are open year-round. The park also offers facilities with free snowshoe rentals, canoe rentals, fire pits, and picnic areas. In addition, many of the campsites include day-use facilities.
William A. Switzer Provincial Park is particularly beautiful in the summer, when the weather is pleasant and warm, the trails are free from snow and ice, and a great deal of wildlife comes out to play.
Hiking is one of the main activities here in the summertime, as there are over 65 kilometres of trails to take advantage of either on foot or bike. The Jarvis trail is a 13 kilometre trail that makes its way through dense forest, bubbling creeks, and wide meadows. The Gregg Lake trail is a 4 kilometre loop that is great for children and hikers of all levels as it meanders gently around Gregg Lake via the Junior Forest Warden Connector trail or the main lakeside road.
Canoeing is also a popular activity in William A. Switzer Provincial Park. Visitors can rent canoes and take an interpretive canoe trip along Jarvis Creek. The trail has marked signs that tell canoeists about the unique environment and wildlife along the 4km Jarvis Creek trail. Visitors may see plenty of wildlife, including beavers in the dams they come across along the waterways. There is also a more challenging trail for experienced canoeists that makes its way across all five lakes.
Other fun summer activities include swimming, biking, fishing, speed boating, picnicking on the campgrounds, and relaxing on the beaches along the shores of the lakes.
Visitors to William A. Switzer Provincial Park are spoiled for choice when it comes to winter activities. The open snow fields, wide trails, and ice-covered lakes make for the perfect winter wonderland.
Cross-country skiing is very popular here, especially at the Athabasca Lookout Nordic Centre, which features 33 kilometres of groomed trails that snake through fragrant pine forests. There are also 13 kilometres of groomed trails that start at the Kelley's Bathtub area and branch off to the Jarvis Lake trails.
The lakes also offer a range of winter outdoor activities including ice skating, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. There is even an ice fishing derby every year during the Winter Magic Festival that takes place in the park in February. Visitors are advised to take extra caution on the ice in the winter, as mountain springs may cause the ice to melt in mild weather. Make sure the ice is solid and clear, and that there are no warning signs posted around the lake before you venture out on the ice.
One of the best things about William A. Switzer Provincial Park is that it is open to visitors year-round. This means that guests can experience the beautiful natural environment during every season.
Camping is available all year in the park. The biggest campground is at Gregg Lake, where there are 164 campsites, kitchen shelters, and coin-operated shower facilities. Campers will also find rustic sites at Cache Lake, Jarvis Lake and Graveyard Lake. In addition, there are group campsites where families and friends can pitch tents or park RVs at Beaver Ranch, Pine Bay, and the Athabasca Lookout Nordic Centre.
The William A. Switzer Provincial Park is also rich in wildlife, which makes it a great spot for wildlife spotting. Common animals that can be seen here include:
*White-tailed deer •Black bears •Grizzly bears •Coyotes •Caribou •Wolves •Moose •Elk •Beavers •Eagles •Owls •Osprey
It is not uncommon to come across wildlife while hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, or biking. There is a wildlife viewing blind in Winter Creek Meadow, where you may spot various types of wildlife. The Athabasca Lookout Viewpoint is a great place for birdwatching, with incredible views over the Solomon Valley. While it can be fascinating to come across an animal in the wild, it is important to take precautions when viewing wildlife. Never approach an animal too closely, as they may feel threatened and attack. In addition, do not try to feed the animals, as this interferes with their natural eating patterns.
Wildlife and nature lovers will love the natural beauty of William A. Switzer park, as well as the wide range of exciting outdoor activities. For those who prefer not to camp on the park grounds, the Overlander Mountain Lodge is a good base to explore the park by day. Guests at the Overlander can experience comfortable cabin accommodation, gourmet dining in the lodge, and spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. Use these resources below to enjoy the park to its fullest