The temperature soared to 26 degrees today with clear skies and slight breeze – perfect hiking weather. I enjoyed the 2 hour drive out Highway #2 today with a few fields already being seeded. I had the whole Spirit Sands to myself when I arrived about 12:30. Stripped down to hiking boots and shorts I headed out on the new beginning to the old familiar trail that I’ve hiked at least 200 times in my life.
The new trail begins with a set of stairs to the top of a ridge. In the picture above you can see the top of the new stairs on the left and a bit of the old sand trail on the right.In the foreground is the newly ground trail. Long time hikers will recognize the split spruce tree as The Sentinel.
Many nice views along the ridge and, due to the heat and the freshly hewn brush, the air was redolent with the rich aroma of juniper and spruce. Mauve crocuses poked out of the dun understory on south slopes. Not much bird song and no bugs at all, not even wood ticks…yet. I watched two young chipmunks tussle over a cashew I threw them at the first shelter.
The dunes were as welcoming as ever today. I hiked to our spot and sat on the balcony for awhile. Linda and I used to sit on this little ridge on the edge of the dune face that overlooks the spruce and aspen forest which we called the balcony. It was perfect there today.
On the way back a park interpreter was taking a group of high school students on a guided tour. At the trailhead I talked to Max, the interpreter, saying how I liked the new trail route. We chatted about the changes. Lucky guy gets to live in the park all summer! I find all the staff at Spruce Woods Park friendly and always helpful plus it is among the best maintained provincial parks. It’s one of the best day trips in Manitoba with some of our most interesting hiking trails and unique attractions.
The reason for the new trail route relates to the covered wagon rides offered in the summer. A team of heavy horses pulls a covered wagon seating about 24 to the dune face where you can de-wagon and climb to the top of the open sand. The wagon proceeds to the punch bowl, a pond of eerie emerald water, then returns through savanna and mixed spruce forest. The previous wagon route was cutting precariously close to the eroding escarpment above the Assiniboine River. For safety the new route uses some of the old trail and veers off into the bush eventually meeting up with the old route. The wagon ride is a memorable family experience that reveals several of Manitoba’s hidden gem attractions. Plus you’ll get to meet Larry Robinson, a real cowboy, who operates the wagon rides. He’s a terrific guy!
There! Have I convinced you to hop in the car and find Spruce Woods Park yet? No! Here’s six other posts and videos about the park plus a map of how to get there:
September hike post
Moonlight hike on Spirit Sands post
Yurting at Spruce Woods post
Yurt #4 Spruce Woods video
Dog Day Harvest Flies on Spirit Sands trail video
Spirit Sands hike video
How about now? Great! See you on the dunes!
Here’s a map to help you get there.