The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area is a wildlife management, cattle farming and activity destination located east of the community of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in the Central Alberta region. Nudged up next to the recreation park on the northern boundaries of the wilderness park is the very popular Elk Island National Park.
The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area was first established in 1899. The region measures 97 square kilometres with working farming pastures and a diverse eco system consisting of a complex network of wetlands, ponds, lakes, creeks, aspen forests, bogs and grassland pastures.
Today, the vast wilderness area is home to herds of cattle and to many species of wildlife. Some of the wildlife which live and visit the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area include moose, elk, coyote, beaver, deer, fox and over 200 bird species.
The recreation aspect of the park includes over 170 kilometres of designated-use recreation trails and developed staging areas. Some trails are identified for use for certain activities only while others are shared trails.
During the summer months some of the activities in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, birdwatching, picnicking, self guided wildlife sightseeing tours and canoeing on Islet Lake.
There are 85 kilometres of trails which are designated for hiking and mountain biking and another 85 kilometres for horseback riding during the summer.
Along some of the trails are lookouts, backcountry shelters, pit toilets, sightseeing benches and picnic sites. The four major picnic sites (staging areas) include the Waskehegan (west end), Central, Islet Lake (south end) and Blackfoot Lake (north end).
During the winter months, after the snow has fallen and lakes have frozen over, some of the activities enjoyed in the region include xc skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and dog sledding. In the winter some trails are designated for xc skiing only, snowmobiling only and snowshoe.
The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area is a well developed xc ski area and snowmobile area for winter enthusiasts. There are unmaintained trails and groomed trails including over 65 kilometres of track set trails and 35 kilometres of skating trails. Along the main routes are warming shelters with wood stoves.
Snowmobiling is enjoyed in designated fields and along 17 kilometers of the trails. Snowmobile adventures begin from the Waskehegan and Central Staging Areas only.