Nestled on a peninsula in Lac La Ronge Provincial Park is the Nut Point Trail. A 30km round trip hike that immerses you in the beauty of the Canadian Shield in Saskatchewan. If you aren't from Saskatchewan or have never been north of Prince Albert - yes, the Canadian Shield rests in Saskatchewan as well. Ontario and Quebec aren't the only places to see 2.4 billion year old rock!
The Nut Point Trail is a decently strenuous hike but still great for beginners. While there is not much in total elevation there are sections where you are required to climb over rocks and navigate slippery roots and moss. There are a couple places where you have a good climb but are all reasonable in grade and difficulty. I have heard of people completing this hike in one day which I believe is doable with a day pack, but I would suggest if you have the gear to hike out to the end of the peninsula and spend the night.
If you know someone with a boat and you want to make the journey shorter, plan for someone to meet you at the end of the peninsula for your return. It is quite easy to get a boat to shore to pick up tired hikers.
Start of your journey!
The trail passes through heavily wooded sections with thick green moss beds, exposed rock faces and a few marshy sections that might get your boots wet.
The trail head is located in Nut Point Campground which is found east of La Ronge. Drive north on Highway 2 until you see the Shell gas station, there is a small sign for campground. Turn east and follow the signs to the campground.
We planned this trip over a two day weekend and came to La Ronge Friday night and camped at Wadin Bay. We wanted to camp at Nut Point but I thought it was booked up. TIP The Nut Point Campground is a first come, first serve campground and can't be booked online or over the phone. Locals tell me that the campground is never full and you should be able to get a site.
The trail head can be found at the very end of Nut Point Campground where there is a large parking lot to start your journey from.
Map and distances
The beginning section of Nut Point Trail is also part of a smaller looped trail called Downton Lake Trail. This trail is about a 3km loop and perfect for families or people who just want a small hike and get a taste of the entire journey.
Once you get on the trail it is easy navigating from there. The trail is well marked. It does zig-zag quite a bit but you can never really lose your way. You are either following orange markers or you can see the worn trail in the moss. Sometimes all you need to do is walk where there is no moss - this means it is the trail!
Moss or no moss. You decide.
During the first sections of the trail you will encounter some ropes to help you get up some steeper sections. These sections are pretty easy to get past but be careful if the rocks are wet. They can become quite slippery!
The trail mostly follows the ridge line of the peninsula with the waters of Lac La Ronge on either side of you. However, this doesn't mean it is easy to access the water for refills. The banks are quite steep or heavily wooded and it makes getting to the shore line quite difficult.
Follow the leader!
If you are refilling water bottles from the lake make sure you use a filter or Aquatabs. The best place to refill is at the Nut Portage which is half way through the hike at the 7.5km mark. Here the lake is easily accessible and only 50 feet from the trail. We used this as our place to have a lunch and refill for the push to Nut Point.
While hiking on the exposed rock faces it can get really hot on a sunny day. The sun reflects off the white rock and there is little wind to keep you cool. Plan to bring more water than you think you need. We burned through much more than expected. We used about 1.5 litres a person in each half section of the trail. 3 litres total per person.
Taking a break and a swim at Nut Portage
We found the bugs and other mosquitoes to be quite tolerable but I still suggest bringing a bug net - this can easily change from year to year or even week to week.
Be careful of tripping hazards, there are many exposed roots and when the trail get's wet the rock and moss becomes very slippery.
It took us 6 hours to complete the 15km journey to Nut Point and another 6 hours to return. We have heard of people completing it in much shorter time. We felt like our pace was as strong as ever but we often got slowed down climbing up and over small rock sections. I suggest expecting 6 hours to be your maximum time to get to Nut Point. If you do it faster then all the better!
Since Nut Point trail is not that far from La Ronge, you can still get cell service on the trail in case of emergencies. Don't rely on the cell phone service to be perfect. It will be spotty and you need to sometimes be standing in the right spot to get coverage.
The trail is loaded with weird and colourful mushrooms
There are many sections where the forest floor is a thick carpet of green moss. You can feel the age of the forest as massive trees tower above you. My favourite section was the spot past the Nut Portage, at about the 12km mark, that gave us a vista of the surrounding lake. This is a perfect spot to take a break and soak in the view. Make sure you spend some time enjoying the beauty of the trail as you hike through it!
The trail is packed with blueberry bushes that are in season in mid-August. Every so often we would stop and grab a handful. They taste much better than your supermarket variety!
More like Blueberry Trail, amirite?
When you get the end of the trail you will find many places to put down a tent. Depending on the weather forecast I suggest sleeping on the rocks that over look the lake.
There is not much for amenities at the camping area. Just a small campfire pit. If you are spending the night you need to make a bear hang for you food. There is no bear cache.
Nut Point Trail is heavily trafficked by bears, we saw many signs of them. We eventually stumbled upon one on the return journey who was busy eating blueberries. Make sure you make noise while hiking and bring bear spray.
This hike is a great adventure for both beginner and experienced backpackers. I would recommend this trail to anyone looking to spend a night on the Canadian Shield in Saskatchewan. The view and swim at the end of the trail are worth the effort! Even if the water is a bit cold.
Have you completed the Nut Point Trail hike in Lac La Ronge Provincial Park? Comment below with your tips or story!