Staging areas include maps, washrooms, picnic tables, off loading ramps and lots of parking. They are often close to businesses where you can stock up on supplies.
Although the trail begins 20 kilometers to the west, the gateway to Alberta’s Iron Horse Trail awaits you in the charming town of Smoky Lake. The staging area is located at the “tee” intersection of Main Street and Railway Avenue.
Ashmont also hosts a major equestrian staging area allowing wagon trains and trail rides an excellent starting point.
In Mallaig enjoy a stop at the charming staging area. The next staging area is at the hamlet of Ardmore. The City of Cold Lake lies at the end of the trail and offers all services and amenities. Immediately east of the City is Cold Lake Provincial Park.
The staging area in the town of St. Paul offers all services: A full service campground, a modern bathroom with showers and even a stocked fish pond. There is also a spectacular metal gateway to the staging area–a tribute to Alberta’s centennial and the rich history of the region.
Carry on to Elk Point which, in 2009, rebuilt its former train station as an EcoCentre and Tourism Office and provides a great staging area close to all services and amenities. Lindbergh offers a welcoming staging area to take a break in this portion of the trail with follows along the North Saskatchewan River. Heinsburg provides a beautiful start or finish to Alberta’s Iron Horse Trail as you begin or end your adventure at their historical Railway Park.
Called “Mile Zero” on the trail, Abilene Junction is the centre of the three trail branches.
There are various day-use rest stops along the trail found at smaller centres and former rail yards. They are limited to an outhouse, fire pit and picnic table.
The first rest stop heading east is Edwand, a former stop along the rail line.
The historic rest stop at Anshaw is well worth your time and when you get to Bonnyville you can be swept away to earlier times through museum displays of a trapper’s cabin, a one room schoolhouse and antique farm equipment. Take a hike and enjoy watchable wildlife at Jessie Lake Trail, south of town. Further east, at Fort Kent, stop for a tour of the LARA agricultural interpretive grounds.
There is a small rest stop in the farming community of Owlseye. East of St. Paul, the trail enters a quiet valley wilderness passing Edouardville and then into Dog Rump Creek valley and the Armistice rest stop. Travelling eastward, the trail passes oilfield well sites, farm fields, valleys and forests towards the Muriel rest stop.