Group Hike at Spirit Sands
Although not a true desert by definition, the sandhills, cacti, hot temps, and dunes of Spruce Woods Provincial Park sure look like one!
For centuries people have come here to see something special—even world-renowned nature writer Ernest Thompson Seton walked the sandhills wanting to learn more about nature.
Join us for a challenging but rewarding group hike to experience the massive dunes that were deposited at an ancient river delta of glacial Lake Agassiz. We’ll pass through varied landscapes and ecosystems including grassland prairies, forest, parkland, and sand dunes. This area is also home to many different types of snakes in Manitoba and the Prairie Skink, Manitoba’s only lizard. Manitoba’s provincial flower, the Prairie Crocus, will be in bloom at this time of the year, and this hike offers plenty of opportunities to spot the gorgeous bloom.
The Spirit Sands Trail is located about two hours west of Winnipeg in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, just off Highway 5 south of Carberry. There is a spacious parking lot at the trailhead with a clean outhouse-style toilet and a water pump. There are more water pumps along the trail but the water in them is not treated. There are outhouse toilets along the trail as well, shortly after the sand dunes and near the Punch Bowl.
The trails are moderately demanding with level stretches and a few steep slopes. The steepest have stairs and platforms to help you climb and to protect the fragile layer of vegetation.
This is a longer hike and may take us two to three hours to complete. Please pack enough water and snacks accordingly.
How to Get There
Type ‘Spirit Sands Trail’ into a smartphone map or GPS.
Or follow these directions:
- Take Trans-Canada Hwy/MB-1 W
- Turn left onto Provincial Rd 351 W/MB-351 W (signs for Melbourne)
- Turn left onto MB-5 S
- Turn right at the sign for Spirit Sands
There is a spacious parking lot at the trailhead with a clean outhouse-style toilet and a water pump. There are more water pumps along the trail but the water in them is not treated. There are outhouse toilets along the trail as well, shortly after the sand dunes and near the Punch Bowl.
The towns of Glenboro and Carberry are nearby for groceries and other basics.
Outdoor Fun: What to Expect on Your Group Hike/Activity
Sometimes we just want to have some fun and enjoy a friendly chat with a stranger.
Our group hikes and activities are an easy way to get outside and explore Manitoba’s beautiful parks with other people.
CPAWS staff will share their love of nature on a relaxing hike along our favourite trails.
There won’t be any lectures along the way: when we stop for water and snack breaks we’ll keep the conversation casual and light.
If you’ve got questions we’ll do our best to answer them. However, we are not formally trained park interpreters. We encourage people seeking learning opportunities to check out our outdoor learning programming or try an interpretive event offered by Manitoba Parks.
Most hikes will take around two hours to complete and will be moderately challenging. Most will also be close enough to Winnipeg to make a pleasant day trip. Check out the event descriptions for more details.
What to Bring on Your Hike
- Check the weather forecast and dress appropriately! Pack a hat if it’s sunny, a raincoat if it’s going to get wet, and a sweater or jacket if it’s going to be windy or cold. Dress in layers so you can cool off or warm up as needed.
- Bring at least two bottles of water: you can leave one in your vehicle on a cool day; you’ll want both on the hike if it’s hot.
- Bug spray and sunscreen: you can apply in the parking lot so you don’t need to carry them on the hike.
- Comfortable, sturdy shoes are a must. You don’t need hiking boots. But sneakers are definitely a better choice than flip flops.
- Snacks are a great way to keep your energy up along the trail. Many trails don’t have restaurants or stores nearby so you may also want to pack a picnic lunch.
- Hand sanitizer (Most trails have outhouses, not modern toilets.)
- Any medication you may need (like your asthma inhaler or an EpiPen)
- A safety whistle and a basic first aid kit (not required, but a good idea any time you’re in the wilderness)
How can we help?
If you have any questions or require any additional accommodations to participate, please email us at [email protected].
About CPAWS Manitoba:
CPAWS Manitoba has been instrumental in establishing 22 new parks and protected areas in our province. That’s an area larger than Lake Winnipeg at nearly 26,000 square kilometres. Our goal is to protect half of Manitoba’s lands and waters.
About the CPAWS Manitoba Nature Club
CPAWS Manitoba’s Nature Club is designed to help Manitobans get outside, make new friends and learn about the wonders of nature.
We’ve developed a wide range of programming and activities to help Manitobans of all ages and abilities enjoy the health and wellness benefits of nature.
CPAWS Manitoba takes the safety of all program participants seriously.
All CPAWS Manitoba staff members have cleared a criminal record and vulnerable sector background check with the Winnipeg Police Department.
All CPAWS Manitoba staff members voluntarily disclose that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. We adhere to all public health recommendations and guidelines.
CPAWS policy requires that at least one person leading programming that may involve children must be certified in first aid. This applies to staff or to volunteers.
This program is possible thanks to the generous support of The Winnipeg Foundation.