If you didn't know already, next week SaskParks open up their online booking system for campsites in our provincial parks. (Click here to see when things go live) If you have ever had to book campsites before in the province you know that things book up quickly so you need to act fast. With so many great options to choose from I decided to put together a short list of four parks that offer some great hiking opportunities.
This list isn't meant to be the end-all list as each parks offers its own slice of heaven. If you think there is a park that should be included let everyone know in the comments below!
Here are four Saskatchewan Provincial Parks that will satisfy your hiking craving.
Click here to go to the SaskParks Reserve-a-Site webpage.
Cypress Hills Inter-Provincial Park - Booking Date Saturday April 16th
The view from the top of the world.
This park rests on the borders of Alberta and Saskatchewan and is a geological anomaly. While the rest of the grasslands were carved out by the glaciers 10,000 years ago these hills remained defiant and now rests 1400 meters above sea level. This makes the park the highest point east of the Rockies in Canada.
Cypress Hills boasts numerous front and back country trails. You can find a trail for whatever you are looking for such as a small day hike or an overnight back-country trip.
A favourite trail of mine is the Mystery Trail which is a 7km loop on the Alberta side of the park. This trail takes you through a mixed forest that eventually opens up into grasslands. It is a strenuous hike with an aggressive elevation change for the first half of the hike.
Cypress Hills is home to a significant cougar population so when hiking make sure to keep your eyes and ears open. Cougar attacks are rare with only 96 attacks reported in Canada from 1890 to 2000 so don't be too worried. If you want more information on how what to do if you see a cougar click here.
Meadow Lake Provincial Park - Booking Date Monday April 18th
That's one thick forest!
Home to the Boreal Trail, Saskatchewan's premiere back-country trail that stretches 120km across the length of the park. SaskParks have created a back country hiker's dream with this trail system. I have yet to accomplish the entirety of the hike myself but I am hoping to this summer.
If you want, you can hike smaller sections of the Boreal Trail and plan for someone to pick you up where the gravel road intersects the trail. Refer to the Boreal Trail map to help plan your hike.
If you aren’t looking for this grand of a hike there are smaller trails around the various campsite areas that are worth the effort. One that I recommend is the Kimball Lake trail which is a 6.5km loop. The trail head is located within the Kimball Lake Campground between sites 68 and 101.
This is bear country so practice proper bear safety. It is advisable to carry bear spray with you on your ventures.
This location has been well traveled by SaskHiker friend 'The Saskatchewan Border' and I suggest you visit his site for a bit more information. This park is on the Manitoba border north of Kamsack. (Don't confuse this park with the Manitoba park of the same name.)
The mixed boreal forest and aspen parkland are the perfect place to spend time hiking. The park sits on the shores of Madge Lake and has everything you would want in a provincial park.
The Saskatchewan Border recommends a few trails but if you are looking for an easy but satisfying back country experience he suggests Batka Lake Trail, where you can spend the night on the shores of your own “private” lake.
Narrow Hills Provincial Park - Booking Date Wednesday April 20th
The view of the Gem Lakes from the trail
Narrow Hills Provincial Park is located in the boreal plain northeast of the more well-known Candle Lake Provincial Park. The park boasts 25 lakes in which you can fish with another 30 lakes within an hours drive. This is the perfect park to bring your rod and reel and get ready for a delicious meal.
What make this a great place to hike is the fact that the Gem Lakes reside here. They are in my opinion one of the most beautiful places in the province. There are a few campsites at this location that anyone can visit that are about a 100 meter walk from the parking lot. There are also a few other spots deeper into the trails that give you your own private lookout over the small, shimmering lakes.
Prepare to spend your days without a care in the world as you soak in the crystal clear waters after your hikes.