More Than Meets The Eye – Exploring Spruce Woods Provincial Park
When you mention Spruce Woods, most Manitobans will instantly think of Spirit Sands, which is located within Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Spirit Sands is by far one of the most diverse areas within the park, and easily the most popular, for very good reason. Spirit Sands contains a large assortment of terrain types from desert, open prairie, forest, and even a really cool oasis.
Beyond Spirit Sands however, further down the highway, are a variety of other areas to explore. My last trip to Spruce Woods I decided I was going to skip Spirit Sands completely and focus on some of the other areas in the park. I was camping for a week and had planned on hiking as many trails as I could, but the weather has other plans, being either very hot and humid, or pouring rain. I did manage to get some hiking in though, and I will talk a little bit about that further into this piece.
As for my camping setup, it is super simple. Truck, utility trailer, chair, and a campfire. What more do you need when relaxing amongst nature? In the trailer, I carry most of my supplies, which include things like a cooler, camp stove and related cooking items, clothing items and extra boots, and general other items. It all fits nicely with plenty of room to spare. Having the trailer now leaves me a lot more room inside the back of my truck for my sleeping area. Previously I used a smaller than twin size bed to sleep on, as all my gear had to be back there too. With this upgrade I can now use a double sized bed, and it is also placed lower (storage underneath) as to give more head room. All in all. I’m very happy with the trailer and its benefits.
Throughout the week I hiked 5 different trails in the area, none located in the Spirit Sands area, totalling around 25 kilometers. The first few days were incredibly hot, so I didn’t do too much hiking those days, just short ones located near the campground. Day 4 and 5 were much cooler, although a little rainy at times, which was far better for hiking.
I set out on a somewhat chilly Thursday afternoon to explore some the areas I’ve never explored before. Starting with an area marked as “Yellow Quill”, which contained three different hiking trails to choose from. Two were longer, one was shorter. I initially started the shorter one as the skies were looking somewhat like it was potentially going to rain, so I didn’t want to get caught 3 km’s away from shelter if it did start. This proved to be a smart choice as just as I was finishing it started pouring. I grabbed my umbrella, dropped off my camera bag, and started one of the longer hikes.
Most of the other areas throughout Spruce Woods are less diverse than Spirit Sands, being mostly either treed forest areas, or open prairie grasslands. With the odd hilly areas thrown in, things definitely aren’t repetitive looking, though. Of the 5 trails I did they all offered something unique and interesting along the way. Along the Cree trail there were a lot of flowers, and a very interesting fallen tree I just had to take a photo of. I enjoyed every second of these two hikes, well, aside from my feet and pants being soaking wet from the long grass and rain!
Friday rolled around and it was time for some breakfast, and to pack up camp. After cooking some tasty eggs and sipping on a coffee by the fire, I started getting everything tucked away into the trailer and truck. Always my least favorite part of a camping trip but reality calls, and I must answer. I decided to do all my packing bright and early so I had the entire rest of the day to go out and explore some more of the many trails. First on the list was a trail called Sandhill, in an area called Seton Trails. Similar to the previous area (Yellow Quill) this one also had three seperate hiking/ski trails, along with several cabins to use for a lunch break, or to escape inclement weather.
Seton Trails was my last stop on this trip, hiking a couple of the trails in the area. But this is nowhere near the only offerings Spruce Woods has. Amongst the two areas I explored during this trip there is several other trail systems. Epinette Creek Trails are one I hope to tackle later this year, which is a system consisting of 4 trails, spanning a total of 41.7 kilometers. Definitely not a day trip!
All in all, even with the weather not cooperating this was a fantastic first trip to test out my trailer, get some hiking done, and just simply relax and take a break from all the chaos going on in the world today. I highly recommend exploring Spruce Woods to anyone, it has so much to offer and the experience is always a good one, from the campground to the trails. Till next time, happy trails everyone.