Devil's Punch Bowl at Spruce Woods Prov Park

by • April 18, 2016 • Outdoor ExperiencesComments (10)197921

Take a hike: 6 amazing trails in Manitoba

Hiking in Manitoba means you never need to worry about altitude sickness. But that’s not to say the province’s broad, sweeping canvas is bland. Ma Nature painted in tall wild grass prairie, rolling, forested hills, undulating river valleys, vast wetlands and the occasional view-encompassing escarpment. For even more variety, she sketched in innumerable lakes and rivers dotted with granite and limestone outcroppings, set among deep deciduous and evergreen forests.

Mantario Trail

Distance: 66 km (3 to 5 days, or day hike up to 6 hours)

The longest Canadian Shield trail in Western Canada, the Mantario runs 66 kilometres south to north along the Manitoba-Ontario border in Whiteshell Provincial Park. It’s a tough go, one that takes experienced backpackers three to five days, but the trail’s wild beauty is well worth experiencing even if it’s just a day hike along the first leg. From the south trailhead on Provincial Road 312 near Caddy Lake, day trippers cross rugged aspen, Jack pine and spruce-forested valleys, the Whiteshell River (by footbridge) and two sets of railway tracks-carefully, as both are still in use.

Spirit Sands & the Devil’s Punchbowl

Distance: 4 to 11 km (1.5 to 4.5 hours)

Two hours west of Winnipeg, Spruce Woods Provincial Park’s pine forest and boreal woods blend with grassy hills and the meandering Assiniboine River. Perfect for families, the main trail affords hilltop views of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a unique crater-shaped lake near the Assiniboine. On the return leg, journey through white spruce, oak and aspen forest and mixed grass prairie to discover a geological surprise: towering, 30-metre sand dunes. Once a sacred Cree site known as the Spirit Sands, this desert area has been gradually reduced by the encroaching forest.

Disappearing Lakes Interpretive Trail

Distance: 1.5 km (1 hour)

Tucked against the U.S. border in south-western Manitoba, Turtle Mountain Provincial Park’s little-travelled day trails make for delightful, scenic strolls through a prairie oasis of aspen forests and shallow lakes suspended 200 metres above the surrounding prairie. Grassy pathways, frequented by moose, wind through the woods and meadows; boardwalks zigzag across still bogs and marshes where double-crested cormorants are common.

Pisew Falls to Kwasitchewan Falls Trail

Distance: 22 km (6 to 8 hours)

In northern Manitoba, off Provincial Highway 6 and 70 km south of the small city of Thompson, a hiking trail skirts the Grass River from the Pisew north to the Kwasitchewan Falls, Manitoba’s highest waterfall at 14.2 metres. At Pisew Falls, the Grass River suddenly drops 13 metres, changes direction and jets noisily down a gorge. And it is here that the trail starts, tracing this key waterway of the Upper Track, a late 1700s fur trade route. Spruce, pine, tamarack and poplar provide shady habitat for northern wildlife; backcountry campsites at the far end of the trail service overnight backpackers.

Grey Owl Trail

Riding Mountain National Park - Grey Owl's cabin

Distance: 17 km (5 hours)

Grey Owl Trail leads hikers to the Beaver Lake cabin built by the famed naturalist. Along with his pet beavers Rawhide and Jelly Roll, Grey Owl lived here in Riding Mountain National Park for six months in 1931 as the first naturalist hired by Canada’s national parks system. The trail weaves through quiet aspen, balsam, poplar, Jack pine and white spruce forests punctuated with swamps and marshes, home to beaver, muskrats, moose and waterfowl. Coyotes and white-tailed deer can be spotted in the evenings.

Hecla Island Trails

Distance: 1 to 25 km (1 to 8 hours)

Across a causeway off Provincial Highway 8, Hecla Island is the major attraction of Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, and two very different trails here can be easily tackled in a day’s outing. The Hecla Village Self-Guiding Trail depicts the history of this small lakeshore settlement, with stops at the village’s centuries-old icehouses, sawmill, dockside fish station, general store as well as its modern museum. But first, stop at the Grassy Narrows Marsh, where a 25-km network of trails offers fine birdwatching in this protected area. Boardwalks and blinds provide vantage points for spotting pelicans, terns, hawks, grebes, red-winged blackbirds and bald eagles. A wildlife viewing tower not far from the main road promises early morning glimpses of moose and even the occasional wolf.

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10 Responses to Take a hike: 6 amazing trails in Manitoba

  1. Garry Reid says:

    Just wondering why Spirit Sands is listed as 2 hrs from Wpg and not 30 min from Brandon; the second largest city in MB but gets no recognition… let’s promote all the cities not just Winnipeg

    • Breanne says:

      Thanks for your feedback Garry! We will include distance from Brandon on an upcoming hiking post.

  2. Scott Devine says:

    There is a neat trail near clear lake that was an internment camp for ww2 German pow’s, think it was called ‘white water camp’?

    Also, I believe near brokenhead there’s a hut… mowgli’s hut or something like?

    Anyone confirm these? Links?

  3. Georges says:

    Crow Wing Trail is one of the oldest trails in the province . It is part of the Trans Canada Trail . Spectacular scenery just East of the Senkiw Swinging Bridge.,+MB/@49.2075006,-96.9064085,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x52c1a883e885cba7:0x77a64a6a1aa323b0!8m2!3d49.207508!4d-96.8713889
    Check in at Oroseau:The Rapids Park for more info on this section of the trail or go to the website at

  4. Christina Larson says:

    I really enjoy the trails in and around the Provincial Park called the Old Pinawa Dam. It is located off the 211 hwy on Hwy 520 or if your comming from the other direction it is 313 that it connects with. Tons of hiking, tubing from the extension bridge and “That Dam race” will be held there too. That Dam race includes kayaking, biking and hiking in the area. Always fun :)t

  5. Jason says:

    I have hiked the Pisew and the Hecla trails, both are stunning.

  6. Gareth Moore says:

    Thanks for sharing. This is very insightful. I now aim to hike most of these, if not all of these this year.

  7. Zlatica Stauder says:

    Love the post. Just wandering, are any of these trails tricycle accessible? We would love to take our daughter hicking but she cannot walk, however can manage 4-5 km hikes on tricycle. Thank you for a tip.

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