Whether you're grinding your mountain bike up a long hill climb or pausing to look back at the deep valley below, don't be surprised if you have to pinch yourself.

Yes, you're still in Manitoba, the heart of the Canadian prairies.

But that's the mystique and well-earned joy of putting mettle to pedal at Asessippi Ski Area and Resort and the Lake of the Prairies trail, one of the province's most mountainous areas.

Asessippi is Manitoba's largest downhill ski resort and has become magnet for outdoor-adventure hounds sniffing out year-round mountain thrills.

The resort's trails are open-free of charge-for hiking and mountain biking throughout summer. Those trails link with the Trans Canada Trail and wind through wildlife-rich forests to the nearby Asessippi Provincial Park on Lake of the Prairies.

A sandy beach is an ideal rest spot before or after tackling a three kilometre hike that ascends to lake-view vantage points. Biking trails rate from moderate valley-bottom cruises to heart-pumping climbs.

The biggest cardio challenge in the area is the 450-foot vertical rise from the Asessippi day lodge to the resort's Top of the World Area. It's a great workout going up and delivers a thrilling descent of the Bear's Eye or Park Avenue ski runs.

On a hot summer day, the Shell River, visible just below the resort's trails, also entices. Visitors can float past the ski resort in inner tubes or paddle kayaks over a series of gentle rapids on a one-to-two hour route. Expect magic in the moments while rounding a blind bends to discover a great blue heron stalking frogs or possibly a deer silently sipping from the clear water.

For $23 (tubing) or $40 (kayaking), resort staff provide equipment, life jackets and transportation to the start of the float for as many trips as you like. Children's and group rates are also available. Floating season is typically set from late June to mid-August, Fridays through Sundays.

Depending on water levels, the trip often begins at the abandoned 1880s ghost town of Asessippi where you can explore buildings and imagine the hopes and failed dreams of the pioneers who gambled that their village would become a prosperous town. History buffs should visit the neighbouring Inglis Grain Elevators National Historic Site, which features a row of five intact wooden grain elevators built in the early 20th century.

In addition to river trips, ambush your family and friends during a round of paintball at the resort.

Or try your legs, balance and agility on the Eurobungy trampoline, a mock freestyle skiing and snowboarding contraption that lets you jump, twist, spin and safely land those wild and gravity-defying jumps by the pros.

Accommodations run roughing it to the royal treatment, from camping to a bed-and-breakfast stays in century-old country homes to settling back inside a modern hotels in nearby Russell.

For more information:

Asessippi Ski Area and Resort


Asessippi Provincial Park

Asessippi Parkland tourism region (accommodations and other attractions)

Asessippi town site

Inglis Grain Elevators National Historic Site