This post by Jay Brown was originally published on the Tourism Saskatchewan website.
Summer is just around the corner. The sun is starting to peek over the horizon earlier every morning and lazily hanging around longer in the evening. As this yearly cycle brings an explosion of life back to the Saskatchewan landscape, we all start longingly thinking about packing as many activities as we can into another Saskatchewan summer.
There is no better way to immerse yourself in Saskatchewan’s diverse landscapes than by hitting one of the beautiful hiking trails. Saskatchewan has many options for you to explore. Trails range from easy day hikes to adventurous backcountry trails. You can discover more information about these trails by visiting the free online resource SaskHiker.com. To give you a bit of inspiration, here are five hikes you should discover this summer in Saskatchewan!
The backcountry adventure to Grey Owl’s Cabin isn’t one you’ll soon forget. The well-marked trail guides you on a winding route along the shores of Kingsmere Lake in Prince Albert National Park to the famous resting place of conservationist Grey Owl, where his resurrected cabin now stands.
At the end of the trail you will discover where Grey Owl and his family once lived on the small Ajawaan Lake. Grey Owl was originally an Englishman named Archibald Belaney who eventually took his more famous name. It was during his time here that he became a voice of conservation in the early 20th century. He lived in Prince Albert National Park with his wife and daughter in a small cabin overlooking the lake where he famously let a beaver family live with him. To get to his cabin is a 25-mile hike, where you will be surrounded by the lush solitude of the park forest. You may even encounter a black bear or two who will be busily fattening themselves on the abundant wild berries along the trail. Make sure to stop and eat some for yourself too.
This is a great hike for beginner backcountry hikers!
Located on a peninsula that juts into the massive Lac La Ronge lake is the Nut Point trail. A 18.6-mile backcountry hike along the spine of billion year old rock. This winding trail is famous for its blueberries, dense moss beds, lake vistas, and the sound of the crackling Canadian Shield underfoot.
The trail ends with a beautiful spot overlooking the historic Lac La Ronge Lake. Set up your tent on the rocks in order to fall asleep to the sounds of the water lapping against the shore. If you’re lucky, the Northern Lights will explode overhead in the unspoiled night sky.
Make sure you bring your bathing suit for a relaxing dip in the cool waters!
If you’re looking for a hike that combines the tranquility of Saskatchewan’s grasslands, the rolling landscape of the Cypress Hills, and a little bit of history, try the short 3-mile loop of the Cypress Hills Massacre trail. The trail follows Battle Creek and the rolling Cypress Hills. Located at the reconstructed Fort Walsh in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, this Canadian National Historic Site was once the headquarters of the former North-West Mounted Police. Originally built in 1875 to bring law to the quickly changing Canadian prairies, the fort was founded two years after the events of the Cypress Hills Massacre. This mostly forgotten event is the tragic tale of a group of Assinboine First Nations who were murdered by wolfers and hunters.
This hiking location also grants visitors the opportunity to explore the reconstructed Fort Walsh and the museum that tells the story of early Saskatchewan history. Plan to spend a day here soaking in the history of the area and learning about how this province was shaped during those early formative years of Canadian expansion into the west.
Sand Dunes Nature Trail, Douglas Provincial Park
Have you ever wanted to walk on a rolling sand dune? In Saskatchewan you can! There are three places in the province that are home to active sand dunes. The first are the famous Athabasca Sand Dunes in the far northwest corner of the province, the world’s most northerly active sand dunes. The second are The Great Sandhills, a 730-square-mile protected area north of Swift Current. Finally, there are the sand dunes in the Douglas Provincial Park located on the shores of Lake Diefenbaker.
The Douglas Provincial Park sand dunes are the remnants of the last ice age when most of central Saskatchewan was covered in a network of massive lakes created by the receding glaciers. This hike is a time machine of geological history. As you trudge your way through the fine sand and learn more about what was only here a short 11,000 years ago you will appreciate the geological forces that created the province as it stands today.
The Gem Lakes are one of the most beautiful spots in the province. These tiny lakes located in the Narrow Hills Provincial Park are some of the most special bodies of water within Saskatchewan’s. Their waters are fed by springs from the surrounding hills, meaning means there are no rivers to disturb their waters. The result are deep crystal clear waters that reflect the sun in such a way that they create gem-like colors. You can probably guess where they get their name from!
There is a three-mile hiking trail that loops around the seven tiny lakes, but to truly appreciate the surroundings bring a tent and spending the night in one of the small campgrounds. The lakes are stocked with fish and many people bring their kayaks and canoes to spend the day floating around in the tranquility of the water trying to catch a delicious meal.