Manitoba road trips: Whispers of the Whiteshell

Posted April 30, 2021

Breathe in the outdoors in Whiteshell Provincial Park. This slice of the Canadian shield is rich in sunsets, boreal forest and ancient granite rock.

This summer, we're featuring an amazing collection of road trips that will help you explore every corner of Manitoba. The Whispers of the Whiteshell road trip takes place on Treaty 3 territory, starting with hiking in Whiteshell Provincial Park's northern region, continuing south to a collection of summer towns, beaches and more.

Part one

Photo and a Hike: Whiteshell River Suspension Bridge to Sturgeon Falls

If camping at Nutimik Lake is on your itinerary, this is an easy and convenient 4.2 km hike located right off the campground. But even those just passing through should take a walk down to the stunning Whiteshell River Suspension Bridge. The trail also leads to Sturgeon Falls, a large, lake-wide rapids that is a sight to behold.

Bannock Point Petroforms Tour

The Bannock Point Petroforms (known to the Anishinaabe as Manitouabee, or where the spirit sits) is a sacred site with stones laid out on the bedrock in the shapes of snakes, turtles and a Thunderbird. The rock formations are believed to have been made centuries ago for teaching and healing ceremonies. Set up a tour with Diane Maytwayashing of Whiteshell Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom or discover the site on your own by following the trail.

Hike to rushing waters

The Whiteshell is all about time spent outside, so take a short drive to the next hike on this road trip.

Pine Point Rapids is one of Manitoba's most popular hikes, with several routes to choose from depending on your desired difficulty. Families may favour the easier trail that goes directly to the rapids, while more avid hikers opt for the second section that offers a more challenging trek over rocky landscapes.

Lunch at Brereton Lake Resort

All that hiking is bound to work up an appetite. Try some of the best burgers in the Whiteshell at Brereton Lake Resort. In addition to eating some great comfort food at the restaurant, you can also book a cabin here for an overnight stay.

Exterior view of Brereton Lake Resort Restaurant and Patio
Brereton Lake Resort

Pit stop: Rainbow Falls

Stretch your legs and get a great photograph of Rainbow Falls while you're at it.

Adored by anglers and photographers alike, Rainbow Falls is a nice stop to make while driving through the Whiteshell and can be reached from the White Lake Resort access road.

Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary and Interpretive Centre

Next, take a short detour to the Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary and Interpretive Centre. The sanctuary offers free admission and a Visitor Centre that shares the story of the sanctuary, explains the biology of Canadian geese and offers opportunities to view the birds up close. Although the site is more active during the fall migration, it is still a worthy stop in the summer months.

A gaggle of geese sitting and standing in a field of dry grass.

Part two

Canoeing through the Caddy Lake Tunnels

Whiteshell Provincial Park is home to many amazing canoe routes, but one of the most popular runs through the picturesque Caddy Lake Tunnels.

Caddy Lake connects to North Cross Lake and South Cross Lake through granite tunnels and offers both short and weekend canoeing options. You won't be disappointed with the scenery, either! Seasonal canoe rentals are available at Caddy Lake Resort.

Trail and a lake

Relish in the beauty of the Whiteshell on this moderate hike, which provides rewarding views of McGillivray Lake (in other words, bring your bathing suit). The falls themselves are located near the beginning of the trail and are best viewed in the spring.

Onward to West Hawk Lake

Welcome to West Hawk Lake, the not-so-sleepy summer town known for its amazing trails, crystal-clear waters (formed by a meteor!) and its high energy, lake-life vibes.

Dining in West Hawk

Hi-Point Restaurant and Lounge is the only eatery in town that's open year-round, 7 days a wee, boasting a fantastic menu and patio.

Another food option right off the beach is Meteor Mike's, serving up everything from burgers and onion rings to milkshakes and ice cream cones.

Other popular spots include Crescent Beach Cottages (for ice cream) and Nite Hawk Cafe (known for delicious burgers and sandwiches).

Outdoor Adventure at West Hawk Lake

Whether you set your home base at the campground or in one of the town's motels and resorts, there's plenty to keep you occupied at West Hawk Lake.

Hunt Lake Trail, one of Manitoba's most popular wilderness trails, launches off from West Hawk Lake - the average hiker needs at least 5 hours to complete this challenging trail. For an easier trek, take the Dragon Fire Trail that's located in the campground. The Dragon Fire Trail starts low in the trees and continues to the top of the rock face, where you will be treated to sweeping views of the lake.

West Hawk is also known for its spectacular beaches and crystal clear water. There are several beaches to choose from: the main Crescent Beach (featuring a long stretch of sand and interpretive signs explaining the lake's meteor history) and Miller Beach, a smaller beach located in the campground that offers a bit more solitude.

For even more ways to get out into the water, West Hawk Marina rents out paddleboats, kayaks, SUPs and canoes. The Marina also provides lifejackets, which are absolutely essential for staying safe while on the water.

PART 3

Beach days and hiking at Falcon Lake

It's time for the next leg of the road trip, which ventures into another popular summer town. Spend a day with your toes in the sand or walk the boardwalk at Falcon Lake Beach. Stop into local shops like The Laughing Loon Gift Shop (for clothing and Falcon Lake souvenirs) or The Sandcastle Shop (for the ultimate candy shop).

Nearby, you can get one of the best views in the Whiteshell from the Top of the World hike. The 4 km trail brings you to the highest elevation in the area, with spectacular views of Falcon Lake. The trailhead is accessible from the parking lot at Falcon Trails Resort.

Falcon Lake Dining

Grab at bite to eat at one of the restaurants, drive-ins and bakeries in Falcon Lake. Falcon Lake Bakery Bistro goes beyond the normal bakery offerings of pastries and sweets, also serving up sandwiches, burgers and more. Beachgoers can enjoy the convenience of food on the main beach at The Kiosk Falcon Beach & Licensed Patio, while Scotty's Drive In is a hub for Gondola Pizza.

Other options include Falcon Nest and the Falcon Lake Golf Course.

Fresh salad with almonds, a cut sandwich and sliced pickles on a square plate.
Falcon Lake Bakery Bistro

Horseback Riding at Falcon Beach Ranch

Discover the scenic trails around the Falcon Lake area on a horseback riding excursion with Falcon Beach Ranch. This ranch offers beautiful accommodations and tours that tell the story of the famous and very eerie 'Falcon Lake Encounter'.

To finish off an adventurous road trip to the Whiteshell, head to Falcon Lake Golf Course for a challenging 18-hole course, set against the backdrop of a forest.