Winnipeg, where the prairies meet the boreal forest, is a true haven for nature lovers. As a local, I’ve explored countless trails in and around the city.
Here are my top 5 hiking trails in Winnipeg, each offering a unique experience, diverse landscapes, and varying difficulty levels.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, you’ll find the perfect trail for you.
Assiniboine Forest, a 700-acre urban haven, features a wide range of trails for hikers of all abilities. Among them, the Sagimay Trail stands out. Built in 1981, its name stems from a Cree word meaning “mosquito.” But don’t let the name fool you; the trail is a fantastic place to spot diverse wildlife such as birds, deer, and smaller mammals The spring season brings migratory birds to the area, filling the air with their melodic songs.
The Sagimay Trail’s southeastern end features an observation mound that offers a view of the Eve Werier Memorial Pond, an ideal spot to watch waterfowl and wetland inhabitants.
This pond serves as a vital water source for wildlife and helps prevent deer from venturing onto busy roads in search of the Assiniboine River.
If you visit during early morning or dusk, you might witness deer quenching their thirst at the pond or spot ducks feasting on wetland vegetation.
Spanning 0.9 km with an asphalt surface, the Sagimay Trail connects to 6 km of wood-chipped paths within Assiniboine Forest.
These trails lead to the recently established limestone Preston Trail and the Harte Trail, which runs along the forest’s southern edge. Parking can be found at the main entrance of Assiniboine Forest on Grant Avenue and Chalfont Rd.
Several points of interest can be found along the Sagimay Trail. The Prairie meadow displays a variety of prairie habitats and plant species, including Big Bluestem and Prairie Sage.
The trail also features the Charleswood Rotary Boardwalk, built in 2002 by the Charleswood Rotary Club, adding a delightful touch to your hiking experience. Furthermore, the trail’s asphalt pathway extends to Assiniboine Park, Assiniboine Zoo, and other nearby attractions.
There are some other great trails in the Assiniboine Forest, or right near by.
Named after the family that once lived in the area, the Preston Trail has been carefully designed to minimize environmental impact while offering a picturesque route through the natural heritage site. The Harte Trail, a 6.5 km trail built on a disused rail bed, is a part of the Trans Canada Trail system. Finally, the Thundering Bison Trail serves as an essential connection to the FortWhyte Alive nature center, solidifying Assiniboine Forest as a top destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers.
FortWhyte Alive, a 640-acre nature reserve, offers a variety of outdoor activities such as canoeing, bird-watching, and even ice fishing in the winter.
The reserve features over 7 km of fantastic hiking trails suitable for all ages.
The popular Bison Loop trail, a 2.2 km path, provides a chance to view a small bison herd in their natural habitat. The trail also passes through prairie grasslands and aspen forests, offering a diverse and immersive hiking experience.
One autumn day, I walked the Bison Loop trail and found the bison close to the fence, allowing for an incredible up-close encounter. Their size and strength amazed me. After completing the loop, I enjoyed a warm cup of coffee at the Buffalo Stone Café, which offers fantastic views of the reserve.
FortWhyte Alive also hosts events throughout the year, such as guided hikes and workshops, to help visitors connect with nature and learn more about the local ecosystem.
Birds Hill Provincial Park
Situated just 30 minutes from Winnipeg, Birds Hill Provincial Park is home to over 30 km of trails suitable for various hiking preferences and skill levels.
Among these, the Nimowin Trail stands out as a must-visit. Located near St. Andrews, Manitoba, this 1.9-km loop trail is considered an easy route, taking an average of 25 minutes to complete. Popular for birding, hiking, and running, it’s an ideal trail to explore during quieter times of the day for a more peaceful experience.
The best times to visit the Nimowin Trail are from April through September when the landscape is in full bloom and the weather is more favorable for outdoor activities. As you meander along the trail, you’ll be immersed in nature, making it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Dog owners will be pleased to know that their furry companions are welcome on the Nimowin Trail, but they must be kept on a leash to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all visitors. The trail offers a serene environment for you and your dog to bond while getting some exercise and fresh air.
I’ve walked this trail several times, always captivated by its beauty and peacefulness. In spring, wildflowers create a colorful carpet along the path, while autumn’s vibrant foliage provides a stunning backdrop.
While visiting Birds Hill Provincial Park, don’t forget to explore the other trails and amenities it has to offer. The park is home to a variety of landscapes, such as forests, grasslands, and wetlands, as well as several lookout points where you can pause, catch your breath, and appreciate the stunning surroundings. After your hike, consider stopping by the park’s beach area to unwind and take a refreshing dip in the lake.
Seine River Greenway
The Seine River Greenway is a captivating trail system that follows the Seine River, a major waterway that runs through the heart of Winnipeg. This greenway consists of various interconnected trails that showcase the natural beauty of the riverbanks and its surrounding areas. With a mix of paved and natural surfaces, these trails are accessible for hikers of various skill levels.
We would suggest starting the trail just off the Royalwood Bridge (Shorehill Dr.).
As you explore the Seine River Greenway, you’ll be surrounded by a mix of towering trees, lush vegetation, and the serene waters of the Seine River, creating an idyllic setting for hikers and nature lovers alike. The trail system is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including various bird species, small mammals, and native plants, providing ample opportunities for wildlife observation.
One of the highlights of the Seine River Greenway is the Bois-des-Esprits trail, which takes you through the largest remaining riverbank forest in Winnipeg. This area is known for its iconic wood sculptures, and used to include the famous “Woody”, a carved spirit figure that watches over the forest. Unfortunately “Woody” suffered from Dutch Elm Disease and fell back in 2021.
The trail also offers picturesque views of the river and several seating areas for you to pause, catch your breath, and take in the beauty of your surroundings.
Throughout the trail system, you’ll find several amenities, including benches, picnic tables, and lookout points. These features make the Seine River Greenway an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll with family and friends or a quiet, reflective walk on your own.
The greenway also connects to other trails in the area, allowing you to extend your adventure and explore even more of Winnipeg’s natural landscapes.
In summary, the Seine River Greenway is a remarkable trail system that combines natural beauty, historical intrigue, and opportunities for wildlife observation.
It’s a must-visit destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts seeking to discover the hidden gems of Winnipeg.
Little Mountain Park
Little Mountain Park, situated in the northwest corner of Winnipeg, is a hidden gem that offers a unique hiking experience.
This park features a network of well-maintained trails that meander through a mix of prairie grasslands, aspen and oak forests, and even a small wetland area.
The varied landscapes make it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts and hikers seeking to explore the diverse natural beauty that Winnipeg has to offer.
One of the highlights of Little Mountain Park is the Quarry Trail, a looped trail that takes you through the remnants of a historic limestone quarry. As you hike along this trail, you’ll come across interpretive signs that provide interesting information about the quarry’s history and the area’s geology.
The trail also offers several lookout points with breathtaking views of the park’s natural features and the city of Winnipeg in the distance.
In addition to its geological and historical attractions, Little Mountain Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The park is home to a wide variety of bird species, including owls, woodpeckers, and songbirds, making it an excellent destination for bird watching. Moreover, the park’s diverse habitats attract various small mammals and even the occasional deer sighting.
The trails at Little Mountain Park are well-suited for hikers of all skill levels and can be enjoyed year-round. During the winter months, the park’s trails are a popular spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The park also features a picnic area and an off-leash dog park, allowing you to spend a day out with your family and furry friends while enjoying the tranquility of nature.
In conclusion, Little Mountain Park is an exceptional destination for nature lovers and hikers who want to escape the city’s hustle and bustle. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and abundant wildlife, this park offers an unforgettable hiking experience that should not be missed.