Group Hike at Spirit Sands Trail
Join CPAWS Manitoba for a group hike to get out into nature and explore Manitoba’s parks!
NEW DATE: Saturday, May 14, 2022
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 group hike on the Spirit Sands Trail, which follows along the massive dunes that were deposited at an ancient river delta of glacial Lake Agassiz. The trail passes 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.
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.
This bilingual event is being offered in partnership with Sports en français, an organization that contributes to the development of Manitoba’s Francophone community through sport and physical activity in French.
While French language skills are not required to participate, we welcome Francophones and Francophiles to join! For English speakers, it’s a great opportunity for you and your family to practice your French language skills.
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 town of Carberry is nearby for groceries and other basics.
What to Bring on Your Winter Hike/Activity
- A park pass is required for all vehicles entering provincial parks. An annual pass (which can be used in two vehicles) is $44.50. Daily permits are $9.50.
- Bring at least two bottles of water: you can leave one in your vehicle on a short hike; you’ll want both on a long hike.
- 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 antihistamines, your asthma inhaler, or an EpiPen)
- A safety whistle, pocket flashlight, and a basic first-aid kit (not required, but a good idea any time you’re in the wilderness)
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.
How to Dress for Winter/Spring Hiking/Activities
The key to enjoying winter/spring activities is to stay warm and dry.
Layers are your best friend. Hiking is good exercise. You don’t want to get sweaty while you’re moving and then catch a chill when you stop. So be aware of your body temperature and take layers off — or pile them on — as needed.
Start with a lighter puffer jacket or windbreaker supplemented by a sweater or fleece and a long sleeve shirt (a moisture-wicking fabric baselayer if you have one, cotton if you don’t.) You may overheat in a heavy parka unless it’s very, very cold out.
Snow pants or windbreaker/shell pants are well worth the investment. They don’t have to be expensive. They just need to keep your bottom half warm and dry, especially when you sit down for a snack break.
Don’t forget a warm hat, mitts, and either a scarf or neckwarmer. You can layer thin gloves under heavy mitts for added warmth and flexibility.
Warm, comfortable, and sturdy boots are a must. You don’t need expensive hiking boots. But you will not enjoy walking through the woods in sopping wet sneakers or leather boots with a high heel.
We recommend getting spikes or a traction device for your shoes for icy conditions. You can find them at Wilderness Supply, MEC, or even Costco!
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 and the Conservation Trust, a Manitoba Climate and Green Plan Initiative delivered by the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.