Winter is one the most beautiful seasons for an outdoor adventure in Saskatchewan. Winter hikes make great day trips – when many of the province’s trails become cross-country skiing, fat biking and snowshoeing trails. While walking on groomed cross-country skiing trails is discouraged, hiking, biking and snowshoeing is perfect for the ungroomed trails.
Winter is also an excellent time for observing wildlife. Many animals are much easier to spot against the backdrop of a white snowy landscape than in summer, and birds lack the foliage of trees for camouflage. If you follow trails littered with hoof and paw prints, there’s a good chance of spotting bison, moose, foxes or rabbits even in winter. Maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of a snowy owl or pine woodpecker? Otters are also active in the water under the frozen ice in winter, as they can breathe through breaks in the ice. Small winter bonus: annoying summer companions as ticks, mosquitos and horseflies are thankfully not to be seen in the cold season.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Self-guided nature trails take hikers through lodgepole pine forest, grasslands and secret streams. The park is home to moose, deer and cougars, as well as birds that nest nowhere else in the province, like the dusky flycatcher.
Echo Valley Provincial Park
An hour away from Regina, Echo Valley Provincial Park's trails feature scenic views of coulees, meadowlands and the ridges of the Qu’Appelle Valley. The Skate the Park skating trail, guided snowshoe hikes and groomed cross-country ski trails are available, too. The provincial park is popular with birdwatchers as the area is home to more than 200 bird species.
Wascana Valley Natural Area Recresational Site in Qu’Appelle Valley
Known locally as Wascana Trails, this area is only a 30-minute drive north of Regina. The trails feature an arch-style bridge across Wascana Creek and great hills to hike and take in the stunning views of the valley.
Tip: Dress appropriately for windy days here. Trees are smaller and the area is more exposed.
Buffalo Pound Provincial Park: Buffalo Pound Lake and Nicolle Flats
Buffalo Pound Provincial Park is a 25-minute drive from Moose Jaw. This park is the perfect winter playground for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. A wide range of trails features views of the Qu’Appelle Valley, Buffalo Pound Lake, the marshland conservation area and Nicolle Homestead. These are just a smidgen of the best trails. Forested valleys, tree-lined lakes, creeks and rivers are magical places to embrace the beauty of winter.
Further information can be found at www.tourismsaskatchewan.com.