Length: 37 km
Difficulty: Easy – Difficult
Trail Surfaces: Grass, gravel, dirt, pavement.
Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, back country cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, snowmobiling (some areas only).
The Lac du Bonnet Trails Association has a vision for a network of trails in the RM and Town of Lac du Bonnet to encourage safe, active, year-round recreational activities. These trails highlight the natural beauty of the area, focus on preservation of the environment, promote healthy lifestyles, bring an awareness of local history, and provide accessibility for all.
With recent developments in Trans Canada Trail construction, this vision is a step closer to becoming a reality. This national trail project started in 1992 and is the longest network of non-motorized trails in the world. It promotes hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling on designated sections, and paddling on water routes.
The Lac du Bonnet Trails Association is responsible for the Blue Water South portion of the Trans Canada Trail, which extends from the Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park to Great Falls, a distance of approximately 37 km.
The Pinawa Dam site was once a thriving community and is now a popular day use spot for visitors to enjoy swimming, hiking, paddling, and exploring history through a self-guided walk.
From the Pinawa Heritage Park, the trail heads west along Pinawa Hill Road for approximately 3 kilometers. It then turns north winding through the Lee River Wildlife Management Area for five kilometers before it crosses Tower Road, continuing north for another three and a half kilometers through Lee River WMA until it reaches Hwy. 313. This section of trail is boreal forest, with rock outcroppings and black spruce as well as some deciduous forest, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife. It presents great opportunities for hiking and bike riding in spring, summer, and fall, and for snowshoeing and skiing in winter.
Once the trail crosses Hwy. 313, it continues north for one kilometer until it arrives at Old Pointe Road. The trail heads west along this municipal road up to the Winnipeg River Bridge. This is the location of Bridge Park, complete with a boat launch, parking lot, picnic tables, and washroom facilities. There is also a cairn marking the eastern edge of Manitoba when it was known as the postage stamp province.
The trail continues across the bridge on the pedestrian walkway, heading west on the north side of Hwy. 313 until it arrives at Blueberry Rock Drive. At this point, it heads north on the municipal road until it gets to the parking lot of the Blueberry Rock hiking trail system.
The Blueberry Rock hiking trails are favoured by locals for the granite rock ridges, lookout tower that provides a view of the Winnipeg River, picnic tables, firepits, and accessibility to the town of Lac du Bonnet. The north end of the trail crosses Blueberry Rock Dr. and follows Mackenzie Point Road, a short municipal road that leads to the dike along the Winnipeg River.
The dike is a perfect place to ride a bike or a horse, or just go for a walk alongside the wide expanse of the Winnipeg River. The trail stays on the dike for approximately 5 km before turning west at Crescent Bay Road to cross Hwy. 11, then turns north to continue along a Hydro transmission road for another 5 kilometers. It crosses Hwy. 11 once again, arriving back on the dike. From here the trail stays on the dike right into the Hydro town of Great Falls, which is the northern boundary of the Bluewater South portion of the Trans Canada Trail.
Within the Town of Lac du Bonnet, paved pathways through Leslie Park, Lakeside Park, and along McArthur Avenue provide routes for walking, bike riding, wheelchairs, and strollers.
These well-used paths allow residents and visitors access to safe year-round physical activity away from busy traffic areas and are well maintained by Town Public Works staff.
2017 is an important year for trails in Canada, and especially for this area. It is Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the 25th anniversary of the Trans Canada Trail, and the 100th anniversary of the RM of Lac du Bonnet.
Source: Trails Manitoba and The Lac du Bonnet Trails Association
Author: Kathy Picard of The Lac du Bonnet Trails Association