- mountain biking
- road cycling
- fly fishing
Why Go? The Cypress Hills stick out of the Prairies like a pine-covered goosebump. Straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, The Hills are one of the few places in Canada left uncovered during the last Ice Age. They have a unique geography and ecology and the extra relief creates opportunities to not only let gravity do its thing, but also offers 100-km views and some of the best sunsets around. Elkwater is the best base in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park—right on a lake, at the trailhead to the best biking and a short drive to all the best hikes.
Play: A good way to get a feel for the park is to do the Saskatchewan Skies Geotour, a 38-geocache treasure hunt to some of the best spots on the Saskatchewan side. The Trans Canada Trail bisects the park, hitting a number of interesting spots along the way including the must-see Hidden Conglomerates. For mountain bikers, the best loop leaves from Elkwater and climbs up the Horseshoe Canyon Trail before linking up with the Mystery Trail for a rolling descent back to town. And as the sun begins to set, take a fly line out to any of the creeks in the park—in the south they are the headwaters of the Mississippi, while in the north they flow into Hudson Bay—and cast for wild brook and rainbow trout. Or hit the Horseshoe Canyon Viewpoint for one of the best sunsets in Canada. For many of the same reasons, the Cypress Hills is a winter destination too. There’s a downhill ski area, cross-country skiing and great snowshoe trails.
Stay: Elkwater is home to 350 campsites—check out the sites at the far western end of the lake. Also in town is the Elkwater Lake Lodge, with condos and hotel rooms. The Resort at Cypress Hills is the best bet for a bed on the Saskatchewan side.
Eat: The eclectic Camp Cookhouse & General Store receives rave reviews for its unique menu, extensive beer list and friendly service. For coffee, caramel cider and baked goodies, hit 12-34 Cafe.