Wild In The City: Winnipeg
Paddle, bike, hike and ski
Dip a paddle in one of the four major waterways flowing through or next to Winnipeg. Amuse yourself for a few hours or devote days on the water within and beyond city limits, discovering the urban environment and rural countryside from the viewpoint of a prairie river.
Explore the slender, winding intimacy of the urban Seine River or fritter away the day watching great blue herons and snapping turtles on the La Salle River. After shopping and exploring The Forks Market and National Historic Site in downtown Winnipeg, launch your canoe at the famous confluence of the Red River and Assiniboine River.
Stroll or pedal along the meandering Sturgeon Creek Parkway. Take a few minutes at Grant’s Mill, a log replica of the water mill named for Cuthbert Grant, who led the Métis in the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. Venture into the nearby Living Prairie Museum to walk through an urban preserve of tall grass prairie. Pick up a pack of native wildflower seeds to plant in your own backyard.
Shadow the Red River through St. Boniface, the largest Frenchspeaking community west of the Great Lakes, hiking through rows of towering cottonwoods along the riverbank in Whittier Park. Continue into the French quarter for nourishment at one of many notable restaurants in the area or tour the family home of celebrated author Gabrielle Roy.
Pull out your binoculars in Winnipeg’s celebrated Assiniboine Park and adjacent forest for the best birding in the city, along with Kildonan, St. Vital and King’s parks. Amble through the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden or immerse yourself in the tropical greenery and seasonal flowers in the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. Make the short drive to connect with the Harte Trail – a converted rail bed that now forms part of the Trans Canada Trail. Hike or bike for kilometres, continuing past the city’s edge all the way to the backcountry trails in Beaudry Provincial Park.
Catch the spectacular waterfowl migration each spring and fall at the Fort Whyte Centre in Winnipeg, a wild oasis set in an urban environment. Or travel a half-hour north of Winnipeg to Oak Hammock Marsh, one of North America’s top birding spots.
Cycle at a relaxed pace on paved and dirt paths curving through the city’s many parks for short but enjoyable rides. Twist your way around the wooded trails in Little Mountain Park or head to La Barrière Park to combine hills and flat dirt paths. Create a longer urban ride pedalling Winnipeg’s Riverbank Parkway System, which combines trails and roadways.
Cross-country ski under the night stars on the lit trails at Windsor Park Nordic Centre. Improve your skate or classic technique with a private lesson. For that backcountry feel, make the short drive to the groomed trails in Beaudry Provincial Park. Or play on over 40 km of classic ski trails in popular Birds Hill Provincial Park, located just 20 minutes north of Winnipeg. Skate ski the La Salle River for wilderness experience close to city limits.
Experience the Parklands/Mixed Wood Gallery indoors at The Manitoba Museum. Grab some fresh air afterwards with a skate or walk on the nearby River Trail, an extension of the annual Festival du Voyageur winter festival. Continue along the year-round Riverwalk ending with a visit to the splendid Manitoba Legislative Building. Cross over the bridge to Osborne Village for an off-beat selection of stores and restaurants.
May we suggest a day trip?
Spend an active day outdoors but still close to Winnipeg. Try one of these ideas within an hour’s drive of the city.
Paddle the Pinawa Channel on the rocky edge ofthe precambrian Shield and poke around the picturesque ruins of Old Pinawa Dam. Jump in for a swim before you picnic in this Provincial Heritage Park.
Saunter along the self-guiding interpretive trail at the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve to see firsthand a tiny remnant of habitat that used to dominate south- central Manitoba. Visit in May to increase your chances of seeing the small white lady’s slipper in bloom or later in July to catch a glimpse of the rare western prairie fringed orchid. A must-do for those who know their flora.
Hike the ski trails at Grand Beach Provincial Park followed by a visit to the sweeping sand dunes on the shore of Lake Winnipeg, the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world. Speak to a volunteer guardian about the endangered piping plover that nest in a protected section of the beach. Head a bit further north to Victoria Beach for a swim. Bring your kayak for a short paddle from the mainland to explore the wilderness shoreline of pint-sized Elk Island Provincial Park.
Cycle the wide, paved shoulder of scenic River Road, following the bends of the Red River as it flows north to Lake Winnipeg. Stop at the St. Andrews Lock and Dam in Lockport to watch pelicans and anglers compete for walleye. Pedal past Lockport to experience life in the fur trade days at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site. Continue north to Selkirk, the Catfish Capital of North America, to take in the Marine Museum of Manitoba.
Visit Birds Hill Provincial Park in any season to bike, hike, swim, camp, in-line skate, ride horseback, cross-country ski or snowshoe. Favoured by Winnipeggers for its proximity to the city and sheer diversity of recreational opportunities, spend a few hours or the weekend. Join thousands of music lovers from across North America who gather every July for the Winnipeg Folk Festival.