Manitoba Winter Explorer Guide: 10 places to hike and skate
November 23, 2022
Strap on your snowshoes or ice skates and stay active this winter by venturing out onto some of the province’s top winter hiking trails and skating rinks.
Whether you want to challenge yourself by skating the length of a river or you just want to embark on a beginner hiking trail with the family, there are options for every skill level. Bundle up and brave the great outdoors!
Trans Canada Trail
Winter is a great time to explore one or more sections of the world’s longest network of multi-use recreational trails. One notable route found along Manitoba’s portion of the trail is known as the Crow Wing Trail, which was originally built to link the Red River Settlement (Winnipeg) with the Crow Wing Settlement (St. Paul, Minnesota).
Another portion of the Trans Canada Trail to hike this winter is the Neepawa Langford Trail. The trail winds through the charming town of Neepawa and passes by landmarks such as the Stony Creek School No. 133 and the Canada 150 commemorative loop.
Birds Hill Provincial Park: Cedar Bog Trail
Located in Birds Hill Provincial Park, Cedar Bog is an easy, 3.5 loop that is suitable for beginners. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the sights and sounds of winter birds such as the black-capped chickadees and the ruffed grouse. Walk carefully and quietly and you just might also catch a glimpse of other critters like white-tailed deer and snowshoe hares.
Whiteshell Provincial Park: Pine Point Falls
There are several hikes to choose from when planning your trip to Pine Point Rapids. Families may favour the easier trail that goes directly to the rapids, while more avid hikers can opt for the second section that offers a more challenging and longer trek.
With either option, you’ll be treated with beautiful winter scenery as the powerful, rushing water of the falls continues to flow through ice and snow.
Pinawa Dam Provincial Park
Head east from Winnipeg to explore a Manitoban ruin of days gone by. The Pinawa Dam was Manitoba’s first hydro-electric generating station, powering Winnipeg homes and businesses from 1906 until it was closed in 1951.
A wintry day trip to the site includes a walk along the Old Pinawa self-guiding trail to learn about the history of the dam via interpretive signage and to take in breathtaking views of the structure and the rapids surrounding it.
Riding Mountain National Park: Brûlé Trail
If there’s anywhere to soak in the beauty of the season, it’s Riding Mountain National Park. Watch the snow sparkle on branches of the surrounding forest as you hike through the picturesque Brûlé Trail.
Continue along the trail until you reach a photogenic boardwalk which leads to Lake Kinosao. With a total distance of 4.2 km (round trip), the trail takes just under 1.5 hours for most hikers to complete.
Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park: Lighthouse Trail
A visit to Hecla just wouldn't be complete without a hike or snowshoe to the iconic lighthouse. This short trail will lead you through a forested area until you emerge onto the lighthouse peninsula. Built in 1898, the heritage lighthouse was once vital to those navigating the narrows of Lake Winnipeg. Today, it is an integral piece of the region's history and a beloved photography subject for those who trek out onto its shores.
Portage la Prairie: Crescent Lake
When Crescent Lake freezes over, locals and visitors alike gather with skates in tow to enjoy the paths and rinks carved out on the ice. The oxbow lake curves around Island Park -- a popular recreational area in all seasons.
Brandon: Skating Oval
Brandon keeps finding ways to ensure you get out and enjoy winter, and one of the best spots for doing that is at the skating oval located at the Parks Complex on McGregor Avenue. If you’ve been hibernating all winter long, a trip to this rink will change that mindset with the warmth of its fire pits and ambient music that the entire family can enjoy.
The rink is well lit, including a Manitoba Hydro Waterfall of Lights display, which encourages skaters to stay out as late as 11 pm.
Winnipeg: The Nestaweya Skating Trail
The Nestaweya Skating Trail at The Forks is one of the longest and best-maintained skating trails in the world. Combining skating with art, the trail also features an amazing variety of warming huts -- with new designs added each year.
If the river isn’t quite frozen yet, another option is to skate along the Arctic Glacier Winter Park’s beautifully illuminated trails that wind throughout the grounds of The Forks.
Winnipeg: Riley Family Duck Pond
The Assiniboine Park is one of Winnipeg’s top attractions year round. In the wintertime, Riley Family Duck Pond is the perfect family skating spot. Skate against the backdrop of the Park Pavillion and be sure to stop into the Park Cafe to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.