5 Hikes For Summer
Summer is just around the corner. The sun is starting to peek over the horizon earlier every morning and lazily hang 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.
To me, there is no better way to immerse yourself in Saskatchewan’s diverse landscapes than by hitting one of our 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 my free online resource SaskHiker.com. To give you a bit of inspiration, I have put together a list of the top 5 hikes I think you should discover this summer in Saskatchewan!
As all of Canada celebrates 150 years of Confederation, the National Parks will be a buzz of excitement. Take advantage of the free park pass offered by the Government of Canada and complete the backcountry adventure to Grey Owl’s Cabin. 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 Grey Owl and 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 40-km hike, where you will be surrounded by the lush solitude of the Prince Albert National Park forest. You will mostly likely 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 30-km 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.
This trail is one of my favourites as it ends with a beautiful spot overlooking the historic Lac La Ronge Lake. I suggest setting up your tent on the rocks in order to fall asleep to the sounds of the water lapping against the shore. If you are 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 are looking for a hike that combines the tranquility of our grasslands, the rolling landscape of the Cypress Hills and the history of our province, I highly suggest the short 5km loop of the Cypress Hills Massacre trail. 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 Assiniboine 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. I highly suggest planning 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.
The trail follows Battle Creek and the rolling Cypress Hills. At the end you will find a plaque that commemorates the Massacre. If you would like to learn about the history of this land firsthand I highly suggest this hike.
Have you ever wanted to walk on a rolling sand dune? Well, the good news is that 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 1900 sq. km 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 home we know today.
I suggest taking a weekend to camp in the park, explore the sand dunes and swim in the waters of Lake Diefenbaker.
The Gem Lakes, in my opinion, is 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 our borders. Their waters are fed by springs from the surrounding hills, this 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 colours. You can probably guess where they get their name from!
There is a five-km hiking trail that loops around the seven tiny lakes, but to truly appreciate the surroundings I suggest bringing 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.
Author: Jay Brown, founder of SaskHiker.com
Saskhiker.com is a free online resource dedicated to teaching people about the hiking trails and natural wonders of Saskatchewan. Follow Jay on social media to stay up to date on his adventures and to learn new hiking information in Saskatchewan.