Difficutly - Easy to moderate
THE GREAT SANDHILLS
One of my favourite locations in the entire province, the The Great Sandhills are a place every person should visit! This park is one large nature preserve and one of Canada's largest active sand dune. Yes, I said that correctly - there are sand dunes in Saskatchewan. (The more famous dunes are at Athabasca Sand Dunes but these are very hard to get to.)
Here you will find a place that is completly unexpected. The area is marked with ever changing dunes and the small shrubs that cling to them. The sand is some of the softest I have ever felt and the entire area is literally one giant sandbox.
Hiking here is a bit of a challenge because of the rising elevation and the soft sand. It is almost like plowing trail on snowshoes, but the reward is worth it.
The hiking will take you through the dunes where you will see various bird species and vistas that stretch for miles. If you just want to come for a visit there are parking lots that only require a 500m walk to get to the top of a dune.
There are not many marked trails in the area but instead trails that have been made from previous visitors. Stay on already made trails as the area is fragile and the less human disturbance the better.
One of the activities you can do here is take one of the tobaggons provided and slide down the hills. Be prepared to get sand in ever nook and cranny of your body!
The Great Sandhills has had signs of human activity for thousands of years and is a sacred place for First Nations people. You can almost feel how ancient the place is once you start exploring it.
You will need to drive down sand roads and gravel roads to get to this location so heavy vehicles like RV's are not reccomended unless optimal conditions. If there was a recent rainfall the sand roads in the park can become impassible so use your best judgement when venturing in. This does not mean that you need a 4x4 but just to be careful.
Grab one of the provided tobaggans underneath the awning located in the main parking area.
You will only have to carry it 500 metres and you will see where people have done it before. Be careful that you can stop yourself at the end as you will hit a very prickly bush.
The route is not well marked but you can find the entrance by following the grid road system.
There are two routes to get to the Great Sandhills, either by Highway 21 or Highway 32. Highway 21 is in much better condition but only take this route if you are coming from the north.
1) Highway 21 coming from the north
Head south on Highway 21, when you hit Leader mark your distance your odometer. Exactly 25km from Leader you will take a left turn onto a grid road. Follow this road into the park.
2) Highway 32 coming from the south
Head north towards Sceptre, the road will turn straight west. Head west for 9km west of Sceptre, take your first left onto the grid road and you will be heading south towards the park.
Follow the route signs from there.