Battle Lake Ride Report
Battle Lake Overnighter
Central Alberta is not well known for its beautiful landscapes. There are plenty of beautiful locations scattered throughout the prairie region of the province, but it does not have the grand vistas that Banff, Jasper, or even (shudder) Calgary are famous for. Somehow cyclists in the Edmonton area make do riding hours on long straight roads unimpeded by views of far off snow capped mountains. But, we do spend a good amount of time planning escapes to the mountains and the road from Edmonton to Jasper is well known by all. In recent years local cyclists have started getting off the highway, riding more gravel roads, and have begun to discover some unique spots right in our backyard. One hidden gem is Battle Lake located less than 100km from Edmonton allowing for a rewarding overnight trip. This area is prime agricultural land criss-crossed by a network of gravel range roads and township roads allowing for plenty of options in how you make your way south.
A small campground operated by the local county is located on the south side of Battle Lake. The campsite is very quiet, as most people go to the large provincial park campsites located at Pigeon Lake, 10km to the North. On my first trip to Battle Lake, in Mid-May, I was the only person in the entire campground.
This is a paid campsite where you self-register and pay by putting cash in an envelope, summer 2017 rates were $27.
Depending on how long you want your ride to be there is the option of starting in Edmonton or Devon. Driving out to Devon makes it possible to avoid riding on busy highways and shortens the distance enough to make it possible to start after work on a Friday. I have done this trip twice, both times starting from Devon around 6pm and making it to Battle Lake by 10pm. The total distance fort his option is 75km, with about 11km being on paved road.
For a longer ride it is possible to start in Edmonton, which adds about 30km each direction to the ride. The first kilometres navigating out of Edmonton can be a bit hectic, depending on the time of day.
All services are available at the start in Devon.
The Battle Lake Campground has well water which they advise is should be filtered, boiled, or treated. There are no food services between Devon and Battle Lake, so bring enough for breakfast and the ride back to Devon.
If you opt to start and finish in Edmonton then you will likely want to make a lunch stop in Devon, if you do be sure to swing by Frickin’ Delights Donuts for a vegan donuts.
Conditions can vary depending on how recently the county has plowed the roads. The nice thing is that there are so many roads that if you don’t like the conditions of the one you are on you can go 1 mile east or west to try a new one.
During planting season (2nd-3rd week of May) you can expect to come across large farm machinery that requires the whole width of the road.
Battle Lake is the headwaters of the Battle River, which runs east eventually draining in to the North Saskatchewan River. In pre-colonial times the river was the boundary between the Cree to the North and the Blackfoot to the South. The name seems to allude to occasional battles that would take place between these two nations.