Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Final northern adventure
Bakers Narrows Provincial Park
Grass River Provincial Park
Neso Lake Provincial Park
Twin Lakes Provincial Park
Rocky Lake Provincial Park
Overflowing River Provincial Park
Red Deer River Provincial Park
The September long weekend marked a major accomplishment for me. I've made it through the most difficult part of my quest, visiting all of northern Manitoba's road-accessible provincial parks.
The trip to Bakers Narrows, Grass River, and Clearwater provincial parks, was my third journey north this summer. Like the previous two trips, it was tough to leave and return to Winnipeg.
Our journey started with the long trek to Bakers Narrows Provincial Park, roughly 30 kilometres south-east of Flin Flon on Highway 10. Heading north on Highway 6 and then traversing the province on Highway 60, north of Lake Winnipegosis, the drive is long, taking 8 hours. The scenery along Highway 60 is unspoiled, as few people travel the highway and fewer people live in the area. All you can see is forest in every direction.
Closer to Bakers Narrows, the harsh rock faces of the Canadian Shield emerge, providing stunning views. Lakes are surrounded by towering rock faces and thick forests. Northern Manitoba certainly offers beautiful scenery.
Bakers Narrows Provincial Park is a campground that sits between two channels that separate one basin of Lake Athapapuskow from another. In the early days of the 20th century Athapap, as it’s commonly called, and Bakers Narrows were part of the route for moving copper mined from the Flin Flon area to The Pas, where it was then shipped south by rail.
Trucking and rail have since replaced this transportation route. Today, Athapap is well known for its world-class fishing and the world-renowned Flin Flon Trout Festival. Master angler northern pike, walleye, and lake trout are regularly pulled from the lake. We didn't catch any walleye or lake trout, but we were able to reel in several northern pike fishing from shore.
Bakers Narrows is one of only seven campgrounds in Manitoba to offer yurts for camping. A yurt is a domed-shaped structure, half cabin and half tent. It is comfortably furnished with a futon, bunk bed, table, and most importantly, a heater. This came in handy when the temperature dropped below 5 C at night. Manitoba Conservation rents out the yurts for $50 a night. After spending the summer tenting most weekends, it was a welcome relief to spend a weekend in a yurt.
Our second stop of the weekend was Grass River Provincial Park. The park is huge, spanning the western section of the Grass River, between Snow Lake and Cranberry Portage. We didn't have a lot of time to spend in the park, so we made our one stop at Iskwasum Lake.
Iskwasum is the home of an interesting geologic feature. The Iskwasum karst spring is a stream that flows directly out of a rock face. Geologists are still not sure where the water comes from, but their theory is that because the spring is near the transition from limestone to pre-Cambrian granite, the water has seeped through the limestone and now rushes out above the granite.
The circular trail to and from the spring is about three kilometres round-trip and cuts through a forest-fire burn area on the return trip. I got an eerie feeling walking through this mostly treeless charred section.
There are two other provincial parks between Bakers Narrows and Grass River. Neso Lake and Twin Lakes provincial parks are both day-use parks on the shores of small, isolated lakes. We didn't spend much time at either, but both lakes are reputed to have excellent fishing, and a few fishing boats trolled their waters as we passed through.
From Bakers Narrows, we travelled down the west side of the province, to visit a few parks we had not been able to reach previously. This route was a marathon, taking us almost a full day to get back to Winnipeg. We stopped briefly at four parks along the way, Clearwater, Rocky Lake, Overflowing River, and Red Deer River.
Clearwater Lake is one of the largest lakes in northern Manitoba and it lives up to its name: The water is remarkably clear. The lake is a popular recreation destination; cabins dot the shoreline and boats were all over the lake. Like Bakers Narrows, the Camper's Cove campground at Clearwater Provincial Park offers yurts for rent.
Rocky Lake, Overflowing River, and Red Deer River provincial parks are less spectacular than the others we visited on this trip.
Rocky Lake Provincial Park, off Highway 10 between The Pas and Cranberry Portage, is leased to a private operator, who offers cabin rentals and a small campground on the lakeshore.
Overflowing River Provincial Park is a small campground near the point where the Overflowing River enters the northwest basin of Lake Winnipegosis.
Red Deer River Provincial Park is a day-use park, south of Overflowing River on Highway 10, where that river enters Lake Winnipegosis. We stopped to do some fishing, but had no success.
Our final journey to northern Manitoba was memorable. For the third time, I was completely blown away by the spectacular beauty of this part of the province.
Now that the summer portion of my journey has been accomplished, the quest continues through the fall and winter. There are still many parks to be visited before I can finally say that I've seen them all.
Parks visited in today's post:
View A(sessippi) to Z(ed Lake) in a larger map
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