By Jessica Williams

 

When summer arrives, Winnipeg comes to life: festivals, food trucks, pools and parks all begin to bustle with the sound of summer in the city. It's the most wonderful time of year.

But sometimes we long for an escape of a different kind. There is a quietness to be found outside of the city, among trees and birds and rocks and water. Even in the busiest summer destinations, retreating to a simple hiking trail seems to invite a stillness that is hard to find elsewhere.

Hiking can be a wonderful outdoor activity for the whole family—if you just know where to go. Here, I share my favourite family-friendly hiking trails that are not so far from home:

photoPhoto Credit: Travel Manitoba

Chickadee Trail

Birds Hill Provincial Park

Length: 4 km loop

Time: 1 - 2 hours

Distance from Winnipeg: 25 km. Approx. 30 minute drive

The Chickadee Trail is a favourite for many young families. The trail is a four-kilometer loop with an easy terrain through shaded forests and woodland grass. Don't forget to visit the chickadees! There are even feeding spots set up along the trail.

 photoRobert Linsdell Flickr cc by 2.0

Cedar Bog Trail

Birds Hill Provincial Park

Length: 3.5 km loop

Time: 1 hour

Distance from Winnipeg: 25 km. Approx. 30 minute drive

Shorter than Chickadee, the Cedar Bog Trail is another great loop for families to enjoy. The forest is beautiful, the birds numerous and the terrain lives up to its name. Bring rubber boots if it’s been wet and let the kids be kids. They’ll love jumping in the puddles and you can tell yourself you’ve gifted them with an experience that every child should have: mud between their toes. Just be sure to bring a change of clothes and you’ll be set.

photoPhoto Credit: Sandeep Singh, Courtesy of Travel Manitoba

Beaudry Trails

Beaudy Provincial Park

Recommended: Wild Grape Trail/Elm Trail Loop (5.8 km)

Length: 2 - 6 km loop

Time: 1 - 2 hours

Distance from Winnipeg: 30 km Approx. 40 minute drive

The beautiful and often overlooked Beaudry Provincial Park is a nearby oasis for anyone longing to escape. A long time conservation area that seeks to protect the tall grass prairies and to restore an endangered environment, this park boasts six trail options. Most snake along the Assiniboine River and are approximately two to three kilometers long. Some trails connect for a longer loop option so you can head on out and see how it goes.

photoPhoto Credit: Travel Manitoba

Ancient Beach Trail

Grand Beach

Length: 2.1 km loop

Time: 1 hour

Distance from Winnipeg: 100 km. Approx. 1 hour 15 minute drive

Escape the crowds for a quiet, two-kilometer hike through an ancient beach whose glacial lake (Agassiz) disappeared about 8,000 years ago. This is an interesting hike for anyone keen to explore the lesser-seen area that surrounds this popular Grand Beach summer destination. 

photoJessica Williams

Whiteshell River Bridge Trail

Whiteshell Provincial Park

Length: 4.2 km round-trip

Time: 1 - 2 hours

Distance from Winnipeg: 130 km. Approx. 1 hour 35 minute drive

This in-and-out trail begins inside Nutimik Campground and it starts off with a show: an immediate climb that overlooks the Canadian Shield and then leads you across an impressive suspension bridge. Keep going for a simple hike to the roaring rapids known as Sturgeon Falls. The kids will like hearing them as you approach and the endeavor ends at a great little beach where you can rest and enjoy the view of the Winnipeg River pouring itself into Lake Nutimik.

photoJessica Williams

Bannock Point Petroforms

Whiteshell Provincial Park

Length: 2.3 km loop

Time: 1 hour

Distance from Winnipeg: 130 km, 1 hour 35 minutes

This short hike is a must-see Manitoba gem, and it’s a manageable hike for all. The Bannock Point Petroforms trail will lead you through the Canadian Shield terrain to what is believed to be an ancient indigenous spiritual site. You can read about the petroforms at the trailhead before you set out.

 photoJessica Williams

Spirit Sands and Devil’s Punchbowl

Spruce Woods Provincial Park

Length: Up to 11 km

Time: Up to 5 hours

Distance from Winnipeg: 180 km. Approx. 2 hour drive

A unique and surprising desert presents itself among boreal, aspen and spruce forests for a destination that will delight you. There are two trail options: the Devil’s Punchbowl Loop will take you through both (for a total of 11 kilometers), while the Spirit Sands Trail is a more manageable four-kilometer loop. Both trails are well maintained with inviting boardwalks that lead to spectacular views of sandy dunes that reach toward the majestic prairie sky. In the hotter months, I’d recommend a morning hike when the sand is cool or head out in the evening and enjoy the dunes at sunset.

photoJessica Williams

Disappearing Lakes Interpretive Trail

Turtle Mountain Provincial Park

Length: 1.5 km round-trip

Time: 1 hour

Distance from Winnipeg: 280 km. Approx. 3 hour drive

It’s a longer jaunt to get there, but this is a destination that should be on your list. A wonderful short hike awaits you, and the scenery and wildlife (aspen forests, meadows, marshland, mountain lakes, beavers, moose and more) will wow everyone. Perhaps a camping trip is in order for this one? The trail is well kept and features interpretive signs that explain the “disappearing lake” phenomenon you will witness as you go. 

  

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