The Prince Albert National Park is famous for its connection to the outdoors. Located deep in the boreal plain of nothern Saskatchewan it offers visitors the ability to interact with nature and to relax on the shores of its many lakes.
Recently, I went back to the park and picked out three day hikes that I would recommend to those visiting the park and explored them. These hikes don't require much more gear than your backpack, water, a few snacks and your camera.
Spruce River Highlands Trail
Distance 8.5km loop
Difficulty - Moderate to Strenuous
Depending on your physical fitness this trail can be streneous due its many inclines and declines but the effort is worth the vistas. There are two opportunities to get above the forest floor. The first is the 10m tower that is only 0.7km from the trailhead. This tower gives you a commanding view of the forest. The day we visited the smoke from forest fires in Washington were affecting the view.
The second view, which takes a bit more effort is that of Anglin Lake. At roughly the halfway point you will reach the top of the hills carved out by the glaciers from the last ice age. It was here that we stopped for a quick snack and a break.
The trail takes you through towering poplar trees, mixed wetlands and a few meadows. I have been told the best time to come on this trail is early summer when the meadows are full of flowers, or in fall when the leaves change colours.
Make sure to bring enough water for the hike as there are no opportunites for a resupply besides stagnant sloughs. Bring mosquito spray as you pass through some wetland areas that are a breeding ground for the pests.
We ended this hike pretty sweaty and tired but it was worth the effort to get the opportunity to stand above the treeline and take in the forest in its entirety.
Narrows Peninsula Trail
Distance 3km loop
The Narrows Peninsula Trail lets you explore a historic penisula on Waskesiu Lake. In the 1880s this was the site of a trading post that has long been dismantled and is no longer visible. However, it does let you explore a forest that is much wetter and older than others in the park. The trees are large and tower above you, with thick moss beds covering the forest floor and mushrooms of all variety dotting the ground as you walk pass. The trail is well maintained and easy to hike, which makes this a great trail for people of all skill levels.
There are a few rewards on this short trail that make this a great day hike in the Prince Albert National Park.
The first is the fern bed that seems to pop out of nowhere. The best time to see these is early summer when they are still green. When we stumbled upon them they were starting to turn brown, but they were still an interesting sight.
The second is the many views of Waskesiu Lake, there are numerous opportunities to stop and look out over the lake. We paused a few times just to take in the view and let our dogs take a dip. There is a spot roughly a third of the way through the hike where there is a bench to take a break and listen to the peaceful sounds of the nature all around you.
The third and final reason that I would suggest this hike is the beach that is located on the last third of the trail. The beach had very little debri on it and there was no one around to share it with. If you are willing to hike in your bathing suit for only a short distance there is a good chance you will get this beach to yourself.
What made this beach even more special, if that could even be possible, is that the sand is a rich and deep purple. I have only seen this one other place in the province and that is at Candle Lake. I am planning on coming back here one sunny day and spending the afternoon lounging on the beach. Bring a chair and your lunch and spend an afternoon enjoying the tranquelity of the area.
Kingsmere River Trail
Difficulty - Easy
While a short trail, there are more than a few reasons to explore it. Located at the end of Kingmere Road the trail begins on the same trail as the Grey Owl trailhead. (there is no sign to say that this trail is on the same path so venture in) After about 500m into the Grey Owl trail there will be a fork in the path; you will turn left to continue on the Kingsmere River Trail.
Just past this fork is a bridge that crosses the Kingsmere River, which gives you the opportunity to stop and watch the water gentle rush past you towards Waskesiu Lake.
Like the name suggests you will follow the Kingsmere River, which connects Kingsmere and Waskesiu Lake. The trail follows a portage route that boaters use to get their gear from one lake to another. There is a push cart and train track that the trail follows - so make sure you keep your ears open in case someone comes up behind you with a boat!
As you follow the trail you will pass a couple sections of small rapids, where you can hear the water babble over the rocks. We stopped at a couple spots along the trail to listen to the water rush along.
At the end of the portage trail there is another trail that will take you to the Southend Campground you will see it past the portage launch. The trail follows a dense boreal forest for 750 meters or so and at the end of it you will find a backcountry campsite that can be used by anyone. The Southend Campsite sits on south shore of Kingsmere Lake. The campsites are a perfect place to come if you want to get away from the busier main campsites closer to Waskesiu.
There are firepits and picnic tables for use. Make sure you only light fires in the designated pits. We had our lunch here, but we wished we would have brought our tent and spent a night. This would be a great place to test backcountry gear without being too far from your vehicle should you need access.
The Prince Albert National Park has many trails to explore and I suggest you try and take them all in if you have the time!
Do you have a favourite trail in the Park? If so comment below and let us know.
If you are looking for more information on other trails in the Prince Albert National Park click here.