Manitoba is chockfull of opportunities to get outdoors, imbibe nature and pursue adventure. Some of those opportunities are a mere hour or two away from the city centre. A weekend in the Whiteshell is always great, but it can sometimes mean being in close quarters with people who had exactly the same idea as you. While summer is winding its way down, there’s still time to pack up the family van, plot a new route and head somewhere different albeit undiscovered. Here are a few suggestions that will take you southwesterly.
Located in the small town of Minitonas, the Duck Mountains form a segment of Manitoba’s escarpment and are becoming more and more popular among Manitobans. With spring-fed lakes along almost the entire stretch of PR 366 and Division No. 20, there is no shortage of opportunities for fishing and getting on or out onto the water. The forested regions of this provincial park are populated with birch, spruce and other varieties that are home to birds, waterfowl and other wildlife. One of the best places to explore some of nature’s offerings is at the Duck Mountain Interpretive Centre where five hiking trails total up to 10 km of exploration with strategically placed picnic areas allow you to relax and take it all in. If there’s one thing, however, that Duck Mountain Provincial Park is known for, it’s the scenic views from atop Copernicus Hill and Baldy Mountain. At 831 metres above sea level, Baldy Mountain is Manitoba’s highest peak. And clear-sky days from the viewing tower of this peak, you’ll be treated to a spectacular view of aspen and spruce forests that stretch as far as Riding Mountain National Park.
The rugged outdoors has its appeal and Porcupine Provincial Forest is one of those places that the locals describe as simply breathtaking. While this forest has few roads, there are over 30 trails that usher you in to the beautiful unknown. Hart Mountain rivals Baldy in elevation at 823 metres. What this forest lacks in terms of popularity it makes up for in its untouched rawness. The lakes here aren’t too shabby either. Whitefish Lake is revered among the locals, while North Steeprock Lake and Bell Lake are close seconds. There are a variety of ecosystems in this forest from bogs to wetlands to grasslands and boreal forests and the wildlife is equally abundant.
Much like the Whiteshell’s petroforms, this land is considered sacred among the First Nations people, so much so that you will need express permission from Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation to visit the site. About 70 km northeast of Swan River, the park was established to preserve the unique sandstone formations, known as kettle stones. What makes this park such hallowed ground is the fact that they are the only kettle stones you will find in Manitoba that can still be observed in their original setting. It is believed that the stones, which vary in size from 18 inches to 18 ft., were formed some 100 million years ago. In addition to getting permission to visit this park, access to Kettle Stones Provincial Park is limited to 4x4s, ATVs and snowmobiles.