Canada’s prairie provinces are more than just wide-open spaces. Manitoba has two national parks, 92 provincial parks and over 100,000 lakes that provide scenic hikes for explorers all year long. Here are 10 of the best winter hiking and cross-country skiing trails to discover in the province known as “Friendly Manitoba.”
Aspen Trail Loop
Length: 6.3 km loop
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 66 m
Birds Hill Provincial Park, just 25 kilometres from Winnipeg, has over 20 hiking trails, but the Aspen Trail Loop stands out because it converts to a ski trail in the winter. Trees like spruce, oak and its namesake aspen provide beautiful views year-round.
Read More: alltrails.com/bird-hills-park-trail
Old Pinawa Dam Walk
Length: 1.4 km loop
Time: 20 minutes
Elevation Gain: 23 m
See nature and industry working together by hiking to the dam ruins in Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park. The crashing waters become even more exciting in winter with the addition of snow and ice. The terrain itself is reasonably smooth, but the stairs to access the dam can be slippery.
Read More: granite.mb.ca/oldpinawa/damwalk
Grey Owl Trail
Length: 14.2 km return
Time: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 313 m
One of several trails in Riding Mountain National Park, the Grey Owl is a moderate trek shaded by forest canopy. The path is wide enough for skiers and hikers and ends at Grey Owl's Cabin, where you can picnic before the return hike.
Read More: alltrails.com/grey-owl-trail
Length: 15 km loop
Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 243 m
This all-season hike around the perimeter of northern Thompson, Manitoba, combines the best of town and country. Parts of this loop pass through boreal forest while other parts show the city sights. If you time your winter visit just right, you might even get to see the Northern Lights.
Read More: gov.mb.ca/millennium
Top of the World
Length: 3.4 km loop
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 41 m
Located in Whiteshell Provincial Park, this hike provides the highest vantage point to look out over Falcon Lake. Take a moderate-level hike through jack pines and bedrock before reaching the lookout. Winter adventurers can also visit the Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes, located at the hike’s starting point.
Read More: explorethewhiteshell.com
Oxbow Nature Trail
Length: 3.1 km loop
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 43 m
Located near the town of Minnedosa, the Oxbow is an easy and picturesque trail for hikers of all levels. The frozen marsh lands create a very still nature walk in the winter months, but there’s still plenty to see including a bison compound and great views from a suspension bridge.
Read More: alltrails.com/the-oxbow-nature-trail
Length: 15.8 km one-way
Time: 2 – 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 262 m
The Centennial Trail is part of Canada’s larger Great Trail system and was conceived in honour of Manitoba’s 100th anniversary. There are some steep slopes on this hike through rocky Canadian Shield, but the view from McGillivary Falls is worth the trek.
Read More: trailsmanitoba.ca/centennial-trail
FortWhyte Alive Trails
Length: 7 km return
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: minimal
Also a part of Canada’s Great Trail, these trails are located inside Winnipeg’s FortWhyte Alive nature centre. See expansive prairies, marshland, aspen forest and frozen lakes on this easy seven-kilometre walk.
Read More: fortwhyte.org/hiking-walking
Turtle’s Back Loop
Length: 6.9 km loop
Time: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 66 m
This is a moderate hike through the Turtle Mountains, near the U.S. border. The path follows the shore of Williams Lake, before taking a steep climb up to the lookout tower offering amazing views of the mountains and forestry. You might also spot a beaver here, even in winter months.
Hunt Lake Hiking Trail
Length: 12.6 km return
Time: 3 - 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 223 m
This hike is for the more experienced explorer. Following the shoreline of West Hawk Lake in the Whiteshell and ending at the smaller Hunt Lake, the rocky terrain can be slippery in the winter months but remains open year-round. Look for the cave set into a vertical rock wall at the beginning of this trail.
Read More: gov.mb.ca/maps/hunt_lake_trails.pdf