This page is intended to detail the Beaver Boardwalk as a Town of Hinton Asset, Project, and its History. For educational materials relating to the boardwalk, or information regarding tourism in Hinton in general, please visit ExploreHinton.ca
View the Project Maintenance Activities Timeline
View the Beaver Boardwalk Community Oversight Committee (BBOC) page
The Beaver Boardwalk, world’s longest freshwater boardwalk is a great family outing that showcases the local wetland system around Maxwell Lake.
Built over several years through volunteer effort with corporate support, the attraction features more than three kilometres of boardwalk, seating areas, and interpretive signs. Numbers of beavers vary from year to year, but at times there are upwards of a dozen in the area. The boardwalk meanders through marshland and fens, bringing visitors close to the active beaver dam and lodge.
Visiting in the warm weather months, early morning or evening is the best time to see the beavers hard at work. Numerous species of birds, butterflies, as well as deer frequent the boardwalk area and surrounding trail systems.
Beaver Boardwalk History
West Fraser Mills Ltd. sponsored the construction in 2006 of this Beaver Boardwalk to commemorate the 50th anniversary of West
Fraser’s Hinton operation and the Town of Hinton. In 1955, the construction of the Hinton pulp mill began, with completion of the
facility taking place the following year. As well, in 1956 the Town of Hinton was incorporated, amalgamating with Drinnan in 1957,
which makes up the valley area of present-day Hinton.
Interpretive signs were updated in 2017, as a joint project of the Town of Hinton and West Fraser Mills Ltd. This project was supported through a grant provided by the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta.
The Beaver Boardwalk wishes to recognize the many sponsors that helped make this park a reality, including:
- Whiskey Jack Bird Club
- Forest Resources Improvement Association of Alberta
- Fisheries & Ocean Canada
- Hinton Rotary Club
- Hinton Communities in Bloom
- Alberta Lottery Fund
Trail System Map
Throughout the Beaver Boardwalk are a number of signs, bearing content detailing flora, fauna, and messages of good forest stewardship. This offers visitors to the community, and residents, an opportunity to engage with the plants and animals of the natural environment, and learn more about ways we can help protect them and honour our natural environment.
You can learn more about the different signs on their respective pages, listed and linked below, or by viewing the brochure, available here (coming soon!).
Why Wetlands are Special
- Please help keep the trails litter-free by using the bear-proof garbage bins provided throughout the trail system.
- Cyclists must dismount when encountering other people. Using a bell is recommended. Remember to wear your helmets!
- Trails are to be used for non-motorized recreation only. It is illegal to operate off-highway vehicles anywhere within town limits.
- Do not damage or remove plants and other natural materials.
- Dogs are permitted on trails, but should be kept under control at all times. Owners must clean up after their dogs.
- Wildlife has the right of way – beavers, deer, elk, moose, black bears, wolves, grizzly bears and cougars may be encountered in the Hinton area.
- Fires are not permitted on or adjacent to town trails. Help reduce the risk of forest fires.
Feeding of Beavers
Hinton's Beaver Boardwalk is a local treasure, an interpretative location where Hintonites and visitors from around the world can walk into the wetlands and discover the full breadth of our natural surroundings, without trekking into deep bush. The star of the location is our beavers, and while the animals are wild, we do work to protect and support them.
Hinton's beavers have been here for multiple generations, shoring up their dam and lodges, and creating memories for visitors and locals alike. Naturally, beavers will inhabit an area until resources are exhausted, and then move on. This has been delayed in the past through the feeding by dedicated volunteers and industry partners.
In the recent years, the Town of Hinton has been evaluating the best way to proceed with the area and animals, working with local and regional experts including biologists to ensure any actions taken are in line with best practices (for both the animals and the surrounding area) as well as for the Beaver Boardwalk Interpretive Area itself. Following expert consultations, the decision was made for the Town to take over the regular feeding of the animals.
Regular feeding only occurs in the fall, beginning on the September long weekend and ending when Maxwell Lake freezes over. At this time of year, the beavers will actively seek out copious amounts of food to fill their winter food cache (located next to their lodge). They prefer Trembling Aspen which will be brought in by the truckload from West Fraser’s Forest Management Area and delivered to Maxwell Lake. Without doing this, the beavers will seek out and fall trees around the Boardwalk area to fill their cache before the lake freezes. Falling trees around the Boardwalk creates a danger for visitors and property owners. Providing supplementary food in the fall when they are stocking up their cache for the winter will discourage the beavers from falling their own trees and will provide them with ample food for their winter cache. Having access to this food will encourage them to stick around the Boardwalk for yet another year. The remainder of the year, beavers prefer to eat emergent vegetation that grows naturally in the wetland and aspen deliveries are not required.
While this action will enhance the Beaver Boardwalk, it is important to be aware that the Boardwalk remains a non-captive environment, and the animals remain wild. They move of their own volition and should continue to be considered wild animals.