Difficulty - Advanced
Distance - 130 km plus
Some trail information referenced from Sask Parks
MEADOW LAKE PROVINCIAL PARK - BOREAL TRAIL
Meadow Lake Provincial Park houses more than 130 km along the Boreal Trail. We started the hike at Cold Lake and hiking east over 6 days. It is best to call the parks office for trail conditions prior to hiking this trail as we ran into a washed-out trail section halfway through our trip requiring alternative hiking and camping routes. Trail permits are required to hike the Boreal trail and can be acquired at the Parks office. Hiking boots, poles and gators are recommended for this hike as you are hiking in all conditions. From dewy morning grass, over a beaver damn to gravel roads, stability and comfort are crucial to ensure your feet and body can hike the entire trail. KT also came in handy for blistered feet. Bear protection including bear spray and bells are required for this hike as you can come across many bears. Luckily we did not have any encounters with bears but we did with beavers, coyotes, and many animals that just passed on the trail not too long before us.
The trail is generally well signed with stretches on the first couple days having less signage requiring more attention to direction while hiking. Hiking with a topography map and/or GPS watch are great to stay on track. As we hiked this before GPS watches, we used a topographical map and checking in on our map more often than not.
There are many backcountry sites along the trail for hikers to plan out their trip. Bear proof food lockers are available at most sites but bringing bear hang equipment is required for those other sites you camp in without. There are some pit toilets along the trail but be prepared to not use a toilet and bring proper decomposable equipment.
We averaged hiking 20 - 30 km per day depending on where we planned on camping and what terrain we were hiking in. The first day of hiking consists of forest hiking trails. When we hiked the trail, there were a lot of fallen trees from a recent storm requiring extra time to climb over and navigate this terrain. The first backcountry site (B1) is located 5.1 km from the trailhead on a hill overlooking the Cold River. B2 campsite is located another 4.1 km in a sheltered bay on Pierce Lake. There is access to water at this site.
B2 to Sandy Bay Campground is another 9 km. The trail continues along Pierce Lake allowing for access to clean water to filter. The trail heads West for a bit eventually meeting up with highway 919. Follow the highway for about 600 metres eventually heading back on trail heading east back to Pierce Lake. At the signed junction the trail turns west around the wet area. The trail comes up at Sandy Bay Boat Launch at the campground. Sandy Bay Campground is the perfect spot to spend your first night with amenities like showers, concession and water.
Heading back on the trail at Sandy Bay Campground starts at site 79 heading south to connecting you to Humphrey Lake Trail. Continuing south up a hill, you come across a viewing tower which is worth dropping your pack and taking in the view. We even were able to grab a bit of cell service here to check in with family. Heading south and then east, you eventually hit highway 21. This stretch is approximately 6 km. Once crossing highway 21, is it 10 km to B3 on the east side of Lepine Lake. This section of the trail follows an old trail to a bridge between Lepine Lake and Pierce Lake. After the bridge, you will follow the road for about 1 km before heading back into the trail on the eastside of the road. Following the trail east, eventually, it will turn south at an old trappers cabin. B3 has water access to take a swim and filter water.
Day 3 began from B3 heading east. This day was bar far the most challenging physically and mentally. Our goal was to get to B5 which did not happen. The morning started out with crossing a couple small rivers with low water levels. These rivers can be deeper depending on the year but we were lucky enough that they were not too deep to cross. You will also need to cross a beaver dam. This is where your hiking poles comes into play. Navigating the beaver dam requires attention and balance. There are now detours in this area.
B3 to Wolf Way campsite is around 6 km. This 6 km joins the Wolf Bay Hiking Trails and campsite. Past Wolf Bay Campground, the trail continues down a beautiful well-worn trail that was the original road decades ago. This created a bit of challenge as there were vehicle ruts to navigate hiking in. The trees on the trail were overgrown to almost create a tunnel-like trail, causing heat to be trapped in the early hours of the morning. This section almost killed us mentally as it was flat, straight, hot, and a bit challenging to get through as time seemed to stop.
Eventually the trail crosses highway 950 where you can choose to to hike along the road to Murray Doell campground or south to B4. Murray Doell is about 2 km from this point where B4 is about 1.7 km from Murray Doell. We decided to hike the road to Murray Doell and take a break at the campground. Hiking along the gravel road was quite hot but the break made it workwhile. We talked to the parks office and luckily found out that the trail to B5 was washed out with 95% of hikers turning back due to fallen trees and washed our trail due to the recent storm. We shifted gears and decided to continue hiking and camp along the trail further up and not attempt the section of the trail to B5. We continued down the trail, eventually crossing 950 and choosing to walk down the road for this section. When the trail intersected with highway 950, we jumped back on the trail after collecting water from the river and finding a spot for the night. This was about 12 km.
From here we continued east from the highway 950 and 224 junctions. The remainder of the hike was well marked, well maintained and had little fallen trees from the storm. 2.5 from here is the River Bend Campsite on the Waterhen River. This section of the trail is a bit hillier but our bodies had adjusted to hiking full days allowing to push through these easier. Our packs were also lighter and the weather was perfect. Along this section, you will eventually come to a section overlooking Mistohay Creek. There is a challenging lookout if you want to get a better look out.
Last the hill, you will head south following the river. This section passes through cattle grazing fields crossing a couple fence lines. There are gates to cross the fences. Riverbend campground to B6 is about 7 km. B6 is north of the river, again allowing for refreshing swims and filtered water.
Continuing along the trail to B7 is 9 km. This again goes through cattle grazing with great views of scenery and wildlife. B7 to the Chalet is another 5.6 km following Route 66, the Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail. The Chalet is a warm-up shack used in the winter with a small toilet, shack and fire pit.
After the Chalet, you have options (depending on where you left your vehicle). Since we left it at Kimball Lake, we headed on the south east trail but you can travel down the north east trail as well. This was a short day to finish on which was perfect as we drove to Candle Lake later that afternoon. This section of the trail is 11 km, well groomed, marked and maintained for fast hiking. The last section of the trail takes you through a subdivision of cabins along the river and lakes. The trail goes in between Litle Raspberry Lake and Kimball Lake which sometimes can have water on the trail if water levels are high. If you are continuing to the East trailhead, you will continue past Kimball Lake boat launch, through the group camping, past the tennis courts, continuing east on the road until the trail eventually heads north. Fron the Kimball Lake boat launch, the trail is 2.3 km to First Mustus Campground.
From First Mustus Campground, the trail follows a well worn trail called Dennis Creek Trail. You have two options to the Greig Lake Trailhead. The shorther trail at 4.6 km or longer at 6.7 km.
We did this hike in 2016 so some trail information may be different than listed here. It is always important to call the parks office for the most recent trail information before hiking.
There are several entrances to the park. Most people take the Highway 55 to Highway 4 route as this is the main entrance to the park. Once inside the park, all roads are gravel. There are many entry points along the trail but the best is the trailhead at Cold Lake or Kimball Lake. The trailhead at Kimball Lake begins right in the front country campsite off the parking lot by the beach. The Cold Lake trailhead is 800 metres south of Cold River campground on highway 919.
Did you visit here? See something cool? Have your own recommendation? Let us know!
Tell the community about your Saskatchewan hike or outdoor adventure!