We've moved the start time up to 10:30 so that we can take in a community BBQ* after the hike. (see below)
If you have never hiked the Spirit Sands or if you're like us and haven't done it for a number of years, think about joining us on this fabulously scenic (& Manitoba's most famous) trail.
This hike is in SPRUCE WOODS PROV PARK which is about 180 km west of Wpg on Hwy 5 south of Carberry. The Spirit Sands Trail is well marked and is right off Hwy 5 just north of the river and on the west side of the highway.
This is a hike through spectacular moving sand dunes, the park’s most fascinating and fragile feature. There are a few places in Canada and nowhere else in Manitoba with such large stretches of open sand. Trail signs along the way describe the land, the life that it supports, and the cultural history of Spirit Sands.
hike length - 10 km loop
hike difficulty - moderate (a few steep climbs)
Everyone welcome! Club members* pay $5. / Non-club members pay $15.(Event fees will be collected at the beginning of the event)
The Carberry Poker Derby / Community BBQ* will be serving lunch at 2pm. This is a fun way to meet some of the area residents and absorb a bit of 'local colour'. We invite you to join us for this community fundraiser. BBQ smokies, chili, homemade soup, etc will hit the spot after our hike. Cost is approx $10.
some ancient history - To understand the origins of the Spruce Woods landscape, you need to go back 20,000 years when all of Manitoba was covered by a blanket of glacial ice more than 2 km thick. As the huge sheets of ice gradually thawed, a wide melt stream flowed into the ancient Lake Agassiz, dropping silt, sand and gravel along a pathway centred roughly on what is now the Assiniboine River. As you look out over the enormous river valley today, you can imagine the mighty river it once was.
Sand deposits were up to 200 feet deep and covered 6500 square km in a fan-shaped area stretching as far east as Portage la Prairie. Exposure to strong winds heaped the sand into active dunes - a barren sea of shifting sand. Gradually, sufficient moisture encouraged the growth of plant life, disguising the wind-shaped dunes with an overlay of rich vegetation.
In 1806 the fur trader Alexander Henry wrote about these dunes calling them Devil’s Mountain. “Many extraordinary stories are related of this mountain, both by Indians and Canadians, of the strange noises heard in its bowels, and the nightly apparitions seen at one particular place ... In crossing those hills our horses sank up to their knees in many places.”
The Aboriginal people who came this way believed the dunes were created by Kiche Manitou (the Great Spirit) and so treated the area as sacred, performing rituals when they approached. The name “Spirit Sands” recognizes the dunes’ religious significance to early inhabitants.
* Participants who have a current $25. annual Prairie Pathfinder walking club membership are eligible for the discount event price of $5.