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The best-kept secret in Royalwood

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I have a confession to make. I‘m an Island Lakes resident but I sneak across the train tracks to Royalwood, as many do.


I live for the moments during the summer when I can take advantage of the scenic paths and trails that wind through an 80 -acre forest called Bois-des-Esprits. It is the closest thing to heaven in Winnipeg, that I can imagine.


I bike as often as I can, up to three to five times a week, weather permitting.  But if this wonky weather keeps up  I may just resort to getting snow tires for my mountain bike.


Until then I can only dream of hopping on my bike to ride MY paths. Yes, there are others who walk, run and ride these trails but I always feel as though I’m blissfully by myself. There are no vehicles, street lights or detection of life outside the forest. The only traffic to be concerned about is the odd jogger or a mom and dad with a stroller.


I’ve waited all winter long to do my daily journey into Royalwood. Don’t get me wrong, I love the paths around the lakes and ponds in Island Lakes, as well as along Bishop Grandin Boulevard, but the cherry on top is the forest beside the Seine River. It is the largest remaining riverbank forest in Winnipeg and it is simply breathtaking! What a treasure it is to travel the winding paths hidden under the shading trees.


The magic of the forest and the wildlife you can only see from this unique perspective is awe-inspiring. Rarely do you see the same view twice. There are carvings strategically placed among the trees and if you dare venture off the beaten path, kids of all ages are delighted to discover the Spirit Tree. Deer can be spotted wandering through with their families and peacefully stop to nibble along the paths.


Sometimes the deer panic and run away when they see people. But most of the time, joggers, walkers, riders along these paths will stop in their tracks and wait until the deer pass.


More people outside he forest could learn from that kind of experience. Bunnies scurry, geese and ducks swim in the river and occasionally you can hear an owl hoot as the sun goes down. It is a different, tranquil place.


Being selfish, I would hate to see too many people taking advantage of this little-known secret and potentially end up tainting the forest’s unique beauty with new found admirers.


Then again, maybe if more people spent time in Bois-des-Esprits, it would change their perspective on life and in a ripple effect cause them to make a better world outside of the forest, as well.


Jasmine van Gerwen is a community correspondent for Island Lakes. She can be reached at jasvangerwen@shaw.ca

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