3-Day Thompson Area Trip
Thompson is one of those places you happen upon in conversation, but this city has such a rich history and a raw, untouched landscape that deserves exploring. The Instagrammable opportunities are endless at Pisew Falls, along the Spirit Way trail, which meanders through a forested area, into downtown Thompson, and of course, the paradise of Paint Lake Provincial Park. From the natural beauty of its parks, to its river systems that have helped shape Manitoba, to its pristine lakes that rival those of other parks, Thompson is a discovery awaiting the avid adventurer and one that will prove hard to forget. Here’s a three-day road-trip itinerary to help you optimize your experience.
Day 1: Tour the town, plot a trail, and set out on a lake
Start at Heritage North Museum, which gives detailed insight into Manitoba’s pioneering past and how it relates to Thompson’s identity.
Once the tour is complete, exit the log walls of Heritage North Museum, into the car park, and head towards the starting point of the Spirit Way Trail. This forested portion of the trail is the first of point of interest of the Spirit Way’s 16, and is mere footsteps away from the town’s towering Bateman Wolf Mural, which is another point of interest.
Some other points of interest along the Spirit Way include the wolf statues, the Northern Aviation Tribute where a Norseman floatplane sits and the Burntwood River flows, and Bailey Bridge in Maclean Park.
Allow up to an hour if exploring the trail by car. If you decide to explore the trail on foot, allow up to two hours for the hike.
After a full morning at the museum and plotting your way along the Spirit Way Trail, you would likely have worked up an appetite. Head to Santa Maria Pizza & Spaghetti House for a sumptuous lunch.
Drive out to Sasagiu Rapids Lodge (about an hour’s drive from the city centre) for a pre-booked boat tour with the lodge of Setting Lake and the Grass River system, one of the most historic fur trade routes of northern Manitoba.
Sasagiu is one of Manitoba’s smallest parks and is often referred to as a recreational area. It offers many opportunities for fishing and viewing the region’s flora and fauna – lookout for the beaver dams along the river and eagles flying overhead!
*It is advisable to pre-book boat tours ahead of your visit to Thompson with Sasagiu Rapids Lodge owner, Steve Granbois.
After the tour, head back to the Sasagiu Rapids Lodge’s restaurant, which serves authentic Thai cuisine with traditional dishes made from scratch, as well as North American-style cuisine and a stunning sunset as your backdrop at the lodge.
Day 2: Hike to a fall or two
With breakfast under your belt, make the drive to Pisew Falls Provincial Heritage Park. The hike to Pisew Falls is via a boardwalk path that leads to two vantage points of the powerful falls. This is where the Grass River winds its way down a 45-plus-foot drop of dangerous yet mesmerizing waters.
Allow up to an hour for this portion of the experience.
Once you’ve had your fill of the falls, make your way back to the trailhead of Kwasitchewan Falls.
This 22-km hike is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t feel up to the challenge of this demanding, rugged terrain, you can always turn back after you’ve walked to the end of the Rotary Bridge which spans lower Pisew Falls. For those in search of an adventure, continue past the bridge and along the designated trails that lead to Manitoba’s tallest waterfalls. Those who venture out on the path should be experienced hikers equipped for the 12-hour trek. Many, however, plan overnight stays at designated backcountry campsites.
Be sure to bring along a wholesome lunch, lots of water, and a few snacks to sustain you during the course of the day as there is no food service available at Pisew Falls Provincial Heritage Park.
After an eventful day, you should have worked up an appetite. Holy Spice North Indian Cuisine in Thompson will satiate all your hunger pangs.
Day 3: Fish a lake and swim in crystal-clear waters
Getting out onto the lakes outside of Thompson is a must, especially when those waters lie within Paint Lake Provincial Park. Head out to Paint Lake Lodge, where owners Barry and Kathy Ruiter, offer boat rentals and guided fishing tours on the peaceful, pristine waters of Paint Lake.
Be sure to bring your fishing licence along so you don’t miss the opportunity to reel in that trophy catch for which northern waters are known.
Paint Lake Lodge also houses a restaurant with a chef who serves up some of the best meals you’ll find this far north.
After you’ve had your fill at Paint Lake Lodge. Explore the grounds of the park on foot heading to either of the two public beaches in the park.
Once you’ve had a rest and lunch has settled, it’s time for a swim!
If playing in the sand or lazing in the rays at the beach are not your preference, there is short walking trail through the shaded boreal forest beside the public beach.
Nothing works up an appetite like a day at the beach. Head back to Thompson for dinner at Pub 55 with a menu that caters to just about every preference.