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The Ingraham Trail: Wilderness just outside of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories

Ingraham Trail - Credit: Kaila Walton

The Ingraham Trail is the playground of the North Slave region. Starting in Yellowknife, this partially paved route winds some 69 kilometres eastward, rambling over jackpine-studded outcrops, crossing both the Yellowknife River and Cameron River, and linking together more than a dozen lakes glittering in the midnight sun. Out here, you’ll find a summer’s worth of fun: wakeboard on the warm waves of Long Lake, fly-fish at Tartan Rapids, hike the Big Hill Lake Trail, roast marshmallows on a promontory above Prelude Lake, paddle the idyllic Jennejohn canoe route and picnic at Cameron Falls.

Doing all this is easy, because there are three great territorial parks here to serve as your home base. The first, Fred Henne Territorial Park, offers sun, sand – and easy access to Yellowknife. The middle one, Prelude Lake Territorial Park, provides big thrills and big wilderness on the Ingraham Trail’s biggest lake. Finally, placid Reid Lake Territorial Park, near the literal end of the road, offers a remote and relaxing refuge from the modern world.

Fred Henne Territorial Park

Tucked between urban attractions and the call of the wild, this park appeals to both city slickers and backcountry campers. For those keen to explore our territorial capital, a moderate hike through the forest will bring you to downtown Yellowknife, bustling with shops, restaurants, museums and more. Meanwhile, if you’re more nature-oriented, this park is on the cusp of the hinterland. Indeed, if you were to walk north from the campground, you wouldn’t cross a single road clear to the Arctic Ocean!

For many campers at Fred Henne Territorial Park, the biggest appeal is the adjacent Long Lake, with the most popular beach in the Northwest Territories. The summer sun heats up the shimmering sand and shallow waters, making swimming a delight and attracting waterskiers, SeaDooers, kayakers and more. Fred Henne also offers great hiking: Looping east from the park is the Prospector’s Trail, where interpretive signage provides walkers with a short-course on local geology and mining.

Finally, within the campground itself, you’ll find a full slate of facilities. Amid the outcrops and evergreens are more than 100 campsites - ranging from powered RV sites to remote, walk-in tent platforms-, plus washrooms and showers, firewood, kitchen shelters, and even a laundromat. Sites can be booked here.

Fred Henne Territorial Park - Credit: Dave Brosha Photography

Prelude Lake Territorial Park

Setting out from Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail, you’ll quickly experience the Precambrian frontier in all its glory. The road bends around the north tip of Yellowknife Bay, crossing the scenic Yellowknife River, and then angles east, weaving over and around the pink outcrops as it passes the access road to the village of Dettah and the placid day-use parks at Prosperous, Madeline and Pontoon lakes.

Approximately half an hour from town you’ll arrive at Prelude Lake, a 16-kilometre-long, island-dotted, Trout-filled paradise. At the lake’s western tip, Prelude Lake Territorial Park offers entertainment for a day, a week, or more. There’s a sandy beach here, ideal for swimming and picnicking, a boat ramp and a marina where you can rent a pontoon boat or motorboat.

If you’re more of a landlubber, you can explore two great trails. The Panoramic Trail offers an easy half-kilometre walk, much of it on boardwalks, to two lookouts with splendid views high above Prelude Lake. The Prelude Nature Trail, meanwhile, forms a three-kilometre loop, passing through sand barrens, across flowing waves of smooth bedrock, and over spruce bogs bustling with boreal birds and mammals.

At the campground, you’ll find 44 campsites - ranging from powered RV spots to scenic walk-in tent sites overlooking the lake-, plus washrooms and drinking water, firewood, picnic and kitchen facilities, a playground and more. Sites can be booked here.

Prelude Lake Territorial Park - Credit: Terry Parker

Reid Lake Territorial Park

Once you’ve had your fill of fun at Prelude, you can continue even further out the Ingraham Trail. You’ll soon encounter the Powder Point Day-Use Area, great for boating and fishing. Then you’ll arrive at the Cameron Falls Day-Use Area, where the region’s most popular trail leads one kilometre over scenic outcrops to a powerful, splashy cascade. Next up is the Cameron River Crossing Day-Use Area, with more hiking trails, more fishing, and more waterfalls.

Finally, near the end of the Ingraham Trail, you’ll come to Reid Lake. This sprawling, spruce-lined lake is the gateway to various backcountry adventures – paddling trips down the upper Cameron River, to Jennejohn Lake, or even upstream to Tibbitt Lake. Reid Lake itself is an anglers’ and birdwatchers’ mecca – and, for hot summer days, there’s even a little swimming beach beside the boat launch.

At the campground you’ll find 65 non-powered campsites and 11 tent pads, washrooms and drinking water, firewood, a playground, and helpful staff. Sites can be booked here.

Cameron Falls - Credit: NWT Tourism & Hans-Gerhard Pfaff

Further information on the Northwest Territories can be found at and can be seen on this video.


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