Lake St. George Provincial Park
Lake St. Andrew Provincial Park
Beaver Creek Provincial Park
With 77 provincial parks to visit over the course of the year, not every journey is going to be spectacular. Not every park will offer the majestic rolling hills of Turtle Mountain, the primitive wilderness of Grass River or the shape-shifting sand dunes of Spruce Woods. My recent trip to three parks in the central Interlake region was one of these journeys.
As my travel companions and I packed the trunk of my Mazda 3 in preparation for the trip to Lake St. George, Lake St. Andrew and Beaver Creek provincial parks, pitch-black rain clouds hung in the air, like an omen of things to come. It looked like rain was going to follow us for a fourth consecutive weekend.
(For those of you keeping score, that's four weekends of visiting provincial parks and four weekends of soul-crushing precipitation. But with 66 parks left on my itinerary and a limited time frame, I can't sit inside on rainy days reading a book. My journey must go on even if a torrential downpour is in the forecast.)
The trip to the first of the three parks, Lake St. Andrew, led us up Highway 17, through the middle of the Interlake. About an hour north of Winnipeg the rain began and it stayed with us for the rest of the day. There were breaks in the downpour, but even then a mist continued to hang in the air.
It was evident that the Interlake has received a great deal more rain this spring than Winnipeg has. The rivers, creeks, and ditches that honeycomb the region were swollen with run-off from the recent storms that had swept through the region.
I started to get a little worried, as we had about 100 kilometres of gravel road ahead of us. With the ground saturated and the continual downpour, would my car be able to make the journey?
My worst fear was realized as soon as we turned off the pavement, north of the Peguis First Nation, and began driving down the road to Lake St. Andrew and Lake St. George.
The route from Peguis to Lake St. Andrew is approximately 28 kilometres - on a good day, less than a half hour trip. It took a little more than that for us to traverse the sloppy, potholed track.
After an hour of driving at about 30 kilometres an hour, dodging two foot deep potholes, while trying not get sucked off the road by the quicksand-like shoulders, we arrived at Lake St. Andrew Provincial Park.
After an hour of white-knuckle driving, it was difficult to appreciate this small, remote park.
Just a short distance off the "nightmare" road, Lake St. Andrew slices through pristine boreal forest. The park is simply a glorified boat launch, but that's all it needs to be. Lake St. Andrew and neighbouring, Lake St. George, are hidden gems when it comes to walleye and northern pike fishing.
The rainy, dreary conditions were ideal for fishing and the park's makeshift parking lot was packed with trucks and boat trailers.
Several fishers from the Peguis area confirmed that the fishing was spectacular and explained that they were hauling out walleye and pike with almost every cast.
If you're interested in great fishing, in a beautiful, remote setting, seriously consider Lake St. Andrew. It will be worth the trip.
Less than four kilometres up the road from Lake St. Andrew is the larger Lake St. George Provincial Park. Just like Lake St. Andrew, the relative remoteness of Lake St. George and its reported great fishing makes it a worthwhile trip for serious fishers, however its lack of development means that if you aren't interested in fishing, you likely won't be interested in the park.
It's a shame because, like Lake St. Andrew, Lake St. George cuts through beautiful, pristine wilderness. If Manitoba Conservation upgraded this park's infrastructure and developed it like some of the province's southern parks, Lake St. George has the potential to be a weekend destination for fishers, hikers, and families.
Heading east from Lake St. George Provincial Park across the Interlake, on another rutted, washboard gravel road (PR 325), we drove through an uninhabited area that looked like it was rarely travelled.
It should have been a prime area to encounter wildlife, but unfortunately we saw nothing: no deer, no moose, no bears, not even rabbits. Even without encountering any wildlife, the journey toward Lake Winnipeg provided a great look at the Interlake's vast boreal forest.
Beaver Creek Provincial Park, 50 kilometres north of Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, is the most northern campground on Lake Winnipeg. Its tiny campground and beach hugs the shore of Washow Bay, directly across from Grindstone Peninsula.
Fortunately, the rain stopped on our arrival and we had the small, rocky beach to ourselves. On a beautiful, sun-filled weekend, Beaver Creek would be a great place to relax and camp beside the lake, away from the crowded beaches to the south.
This weekend's trip was one of those trips that will always stick out in my mind, but for all the wrong reasons.
It wasn't because of the parks, though.
Lake St. Andrew, Lake St. George, and Beaver Creek are all beautiful, remote, and pristine.
Unfortunately, the weather didn't let us appreciate them to the fullest. On the bright side, my car survived without any flat tires or dents, only coated front to back in a thick layer of dirt.
Next week, I'm heading to the western side of the Interlake, the eastern shore of Lake Manitoba. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it won't be five weekends of bad weather out of five weekends.
Parks visited in today's blog post: