Hastings Lake Natural Area

The Hastings Lake Natural Area (NA) is lies in the Cooking Lake Moraine or Beaver Hills. Although only a Protective Notation [1], this NA complements the other two protected areas on the lake (Hastings Lakes Islands and Edgar T. Jones).

2010 - Winter Inspection Ski of Hastings Lake Natural Area - The Spruce Bog is passable when frozen. (LKershaw)
2010 – Winter Inspection Ski of Hastings Lake Natural Area – The Spruce Bog is passable when frozen. (LKershaw)

Map of the Area

Any maps and map views are for general information only. Do not rely on them for navigation or to determine legal boundaries.

Other Information

(Thanks to the Kershaws who provided the original May 2010 Newsletter submission on which the following information is based on [2]).

The NA is lies in the Cooking Lake Moraine or Beaver Hills. This area is part of the Dry Mixedwood Subregion of the Boreal Natural Region. Most of the site is covered by mature poplar stands. The moraine has undulating terrain, with rolling hills and numerous depressions, so vegetation varies greatly over short distances, ranging from small marshes in depressions to balsam poplar stands in slightly higher areas and then aspen stands on well-drained uplands.

In the southeastern corner of the site, there is a beautiful little spruce bog and Hastings Lake lies along the southern edge of the site.

A JEWEL 50+ YEARS IN THE MAKING. The NA (PA Site 472) is 62 ha (153 acre) on the lake’s north shore, 30 minutes east of Sherwood Park. The site was first reserved for recreation in 1962, on the recommendation of the Public Lands Division inspector. Then, in 1963, the local MLA requested that it be used for a county park. A recreation lease was granted to the County of Strathcona in 1964. In 1970, the site was referred to the provincial Natural Areas Committee, and in 1971 it was made a holding reservation (HLR4) for a possible Natural Area. Finally, in 1974, the area was designated as a Natural Area with Protective Notation (PNT).

GEOGRAPHIC OVERVIEW. The Hastings Lake Natural area has undulating terrain with numerous shallow depressions and lake shore habitats along the northern edge of Hastings Lake. Vegetation is primarily aspen forest, but there are also diverse wetland and shoreline communities and a small, isolated bog.

WOOD and WATER. Most of the Hastings Lake Natural Area is wooded. The forest is dominated by balsam poplar in low-lying areas and by trembling aspen on well-drained uplands, with the occasional white spruce. The woodland has a diverse, multi-tiered understorey, with a mix of tall shrubs (beaked hazelnut, chokecherry, saskatoon, red-osier dogwood), low shrubs (wild roses, snowberries, low-bush cranberry) and non-woody plants (wild strawberries, tall lungwort, bunchberry)

Most of the marshes are shallow, and have surface water only in the spring and early summer. Vegetation is dominated by bluejoint reedgrass and other moisture-loving plants. In some of the larger wetlands, sedges blanket wetter areas and willows and paper birches provide cover for many birds and mammals.

THE BLACK SPRUCE BOG near the southeastern corner of the natural area is one of the site’s more unusual features. Feathermosses and sphagnum blanket the ground in this small fragment of boreal forest. Bog cranberry/lingonberry, cloudberry, and Labrador tea are also common.

THE WILD LOCALS. Because of its diverse habitat and its location on the shore of Hastings Lake, the Natural Area provides excellent wildlife habitat. Moose, deer, Coyote, Snowshoe Hare, Porcupine, Beaver, Muskrats, Red squirrel, voles and Deer Mouse are all abundant. There have been sightings and/or signs of Flying Squirrel, Skunk, Short-tailed Weasels and Red Fox. Recently, Black Bears and Cougars have been reported from nearby, but have yet to be spotted in the Natural Area.

THE BIRD LIFE is especially diverse. Mature poplars provide nesting habitat for Pileated Woodpeckers, Great-horned Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks and Goshawks. Bald Eagles perch in tall trees near the shore, hunting for ducks during spring and fall migrations. Hastings Lake supports a wide range of waterfowl, and includes gull, Cormorant, Pelican and heron colonies. All of these birds can be seen along the shore during the spring and summer, along with hundreds of ducks, grebes and geese.

LAND USE has increased slightly over the years. The area is under a grazing permit to a local farmer, but because of the dense shrubby understorey, cattle rarely venture far into the Natural Area. Today, visitors to the Hastings Lake Natural Area often arrive via the lake, in boats during summer and on snowmobiles in winter. It is appreciated that most visitors respect the land, and leave the local residents to live in peace.

Site Statistics

Site NameHastings Lake
Site TypeNatural Area
SubtypeProtective Notation (PNT)
Natural Region(s)Dry Mixedwood
O.C. No. (Land Ref. Manual)N/A
PASite ID (Map Ref #)472
Site # (Parks Website)N/A
Total Area62.00 ha. (153.20 ac.)
Recreation Activities
Operated By
Notes and Comments
Statistics and Details for Hastings Lake


The following links are provided as a courtesy but are not verified or endorsed by SAPAA. Clicking on the link will cause you to leave the SAPAA website.

  1. Natural areas designated as either Protected Notation and Consultative Notation are no longer listed on the Government of Alberta’s Land Reference Manual. If you would like to see them listed, please reach out to the current Minister’s office and make this request. Feel free to contact SAPAA if you would like more information on this and other matters related to Protected Areas in Alberta.
  2. SAPAA Newsletter #22 May 2010. A Snapshot of Hastings Lake N.A., pages 2-3.

Further Reading

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