5 Inspiring Hikes to Take This Spring
Northern Manitoba contains an abundance of lakes and rivers, the banks of which are fortified by the roots of a classic collection of boreal tree species, mosses, and grasses which feeds the abundance of small to large mammals that share this pristine habitat with bird species abound, even reptiles! In short, it is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. What’s more is there are caves, waterfalls, and trading post histories here written by those who dared to venture into the unknown. Today, you will discover that what is known to us locals is that this geographic area is greatly under appreciated in spite of the beauty that lives and breathes here - where a sense of adventure favours the brave.
Visiting The Pas and the surrounding area during Spring is the right fit for you for many reasons, but no visit should pass on the many walking or hiking opportunities available in the area. In practice, the days get longer after the equinox, but in reality, these days are not exactly shorts and sandals weather. Temperatures average at only 5˚C during the day. In fact, snow and ice could and probably will still be covering some areas, especially those that contain denser forest where sunlight is only indirectly accessible to the ground cover underneath the boreal tree canopy. Since all of the worthy walks in this area take place in the natural forested landscape of the Taiga, you might as well bring your winter socks and rain boots along with a toque and some mittens; don’t forget your windbreaker and the insulating layers underneath, since venturing out into the fresh Spring air is no picnic after a hard Winter’s chill.
In short, the better you dress for the conditions, the more fun you will have. This cannot be overstated. A good pair of rain boots that would protect your feet from incoming slush is key-especially when you want to wander off the beaten track to take a closer look at that thing you just have to get a picture of to show your friends and family (maybe a white-tailed deer, or perhaps a pair of nesting bald eagles).
The following list is not exhaustive by any means, but includes something for everyone and can be done in one day trips from The Pas. Good luck and have fun exploring!
–Gerhard Janse van Rensburg
1. Rosie Mayne Notchemek Trail
A local walk just on the edge of the town of The Pas to the Southeast. In the Winter months it is used mainly for cross-country skiing, but for the rest of the year locals equally enjoy running or walking through this historic trail. Interesting features include a beautiful boardwalk (kids, bring your nets for dipping!) and lighting systems that once accommodated evening activities for local residents.
2. Clearwater Lake Provincial Park
At the Pioneer Bay campground there is an interconnected series of trails accessible from various starting points, including Snake Island Way and Pelican Point. These double as cross-country skiing trails during the winter months and are maintained by volunteers and parks employees year round.
3. The Caves Self-guided Trail
Located inside the Clearwater Lake Provincial Park, this trail shows off some interesting geological features from past environmental shifts. Adventurers can go right down to the edge of the lake and explore the cliffs and cracks big enough to fit a small car through. Plan for at least 45 minutes to complete this short loop.
4. Karst Spring Self-guided Trail
The Iskwasum Landing Campground is located within the Grass River Provincial Park where a short 3.2 kilometre (return) trail is nestled beside a karst spring, providing magnificent views of this natural fluvial system. If the Park is still closed, you can access the walking trail right along the side of the highway. Be aware of bears in June and wear footwear that is both waterproof and able to grip slippery areas where the snow may not have yet melted.
5. Wekusko Falls
The word ‘Wekusko’ comes from the Cree word ‘Wekusqua,’ which literally translates to ‘sweet grass’ or ‘herb.’ At the falls there are two suspension bridges from which visitors can soak up the views of the cascading water of the Grass River at the point where it flows into Wekusko Lake.