Prairie Hospitality on the Trail

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Left to right: Ann Burton, Cathy Watts and Cindi Peterson/Trent Watts

In August, Saskatchewan achieved connection of The Great Trail, province-wide. As the longest recreational trail in the world, The Great Trail offers a wide range of activities through a variety of landscapes – urban, rural and wilderness, along greenways, waterways and roadways across Canada. In celebration, the Trans Canada Trail staff has released a series of articles highlighting different stops along the way.

Previous articles: 5 Must-See Sections of The Great Trail in Saskatchewan; Creating trail tourism in rural Saskatchewan

In mid-July 2015, ten seniors started out on a five-day cycling adventure on The Great Trail in Saskatchewan. Starting in Saskatoon, they cycled close to 300 kilometres through Hague, Batoche, Duck Lake and Blaine Lake, before heading back home via Borden.

It was quite the adventure, says trip organizer Cathy Watts. The Trail experienced by the group was quite challenging, as it was almost entirely on gravel roads with little to no nearby amenities for the long-distance cyclist (food, shelter, water!), but, as Watts says, “The Trail has a unique way of bringing Canadians in touch with one another.”

Case in point, in planning the trip, Watts was unable to find accommodations for the first night’s stop in the Town of Hague. Looking for more information, Watts visited the Town Hall, and on a whim, asked if anyone would be interested in putting up a group of seniors for a night’s stop during their cycling trip. After a few phone calls and emails with Town representatives and even the mayor of Hague, some enthusiastic volunteers opened their homes for the seniors’ cycling group, providing them with home-cooked meals, hot showers, warm beds and some new friends.

And the hospitality didn’t end in Hague. The next four days included an evening at the Back to Batoche festival, the Métis Nation’s annual commemoration event of their culture, traditions and heritage. It is a family event where the Métis memorialize and pay homage to national heroes such as Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont and many others. The seniors cycling group got the chance to experience the songs, dances and stories of the Métis Nation in Batoche.

In five short days, the group of cyclists enjoyed some of the best of what Saskatchewan has to offer via The Great Trail; stunning rivers, magnificent vistas of prairie sky, lush countryside, and the warmth and generosity of the people of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan’s connection milestone will be celebrated on Oct. 1, 1- 3 p.m. at the Wakamov Bridge in Wakamow Valley (Home St E, Moose Jaw) in an event featuring food and fun for the whole family. For more information on The Great Trail, visit www.thegreattrail.ca.

Creating trail tourism in rural Saskatchewan

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In August, Saskatchewan achieved connection of The Great Trail, province-wide. As the longest recreational trail in the world, The Great Trail offers a wide range of activities through a variety of landscapes – urban, rural and wilderness, along greenways, waterways and roadways across Canada. In celebration, the Trans Canada Trail staff has released a series of articles highlighting different stops along the way.

Previous articles: 5 Must-See Sections of The Great Trail in Saskatchewan

The Great Trail of Canada is the longest and grandest recreational multi-use trail in the world. And if you live in rural Saskatchewan, there’s a good chance it might just be in your municipality.

The Great Trail currently spans over 20,000 kilometres of urban, rural and wilderness trails across land and water. Every province and territory is home to its very own section of the Trail.

In Saskatchewan, the Trail currently spans just over 1,600 kilometres, and features beautiful panoramas, pedestrian bridges that are world-renowned feats of engineering, breathtaking lookouts and meandering waterways. Saskatchewan’s section of The Great Trail provides users with opportunities to behold a vast array of flora and fauna that flies in the face of any preconception one might have had about what one would expect to find in Saskatchewan.

What’s more, the majority of the Trail’s provincial route runs through rural municipalities.

Trans Canada Trail (TCT) has been working with rural municipalities across Saskatchewan to help build its tourism infrastructure, researching and adapting Trail routes to highlight points of interest and to link some of the province’s most meaningful cultural and historical sites.

TCT rerouted through the rural municipality of Douglas in order to pass by Crooked Bush Grove, offering Trail users a mystical touch to a day-hike, into a maze of majestically twisted aspen trees, a medieval atmosphere like something out of a fairy tale.

Near the village of Marcelin, TCT worked with the Green Leaf Hutterite Colony, which now allows Trail users onto their private land to witness their way of life as part of the local trail experience.

This past March, TCT President & CEO Deborah Apps spoke at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) convention, publicly thanking Saskatchewan’s rural municipalities for working with TCT to develop the Trail through their boundaries. The groundswell of support from RMs has created vital infrastructure that will benefit Saskatchewan for generations to come.

“The Great Trail in Saskatchewan gets people out of the cities, back to the land and to their roots as Canadians,” says TCT’s Trail Development Manager Kristen Gabora, who lives in Canora. “This Trail system celebrates our beautiful rural landscapes, inviting people into nature, the woods, and back to the dirt.”

Aside from providing residents and visitors alike with exciting options for affordable outdoor recreation, The Great Trail in Saskatchewan is helping to build a trail culture.

“The work TCT is doing with the local municipalities in Saskatchewan to develop Trail is simultaneously creating a kind of Trail culture, where public support is rallied around the notion that trails have amazing benefits for communities,” says Sinclair Harrison, Chairperson of TCT’s Saskatchewan Vision 2017 Trail Committee. “Trails get people active and involved in nature, and they celebrate the history and cultures of communities. And with The Great Trail, there’s the sense that we’re all connected to something really grand that will endure for generations to come.”

Saskatchewan’s connection milestone will be celebrated on Oct. 1, 1- 3 p.m. at the Wakamov Bridge in Wakamow Valley (Home St E, Moose Jaw) in an event featuring food and fun for the whole family. For more information on The Great Trail, visit www.thegreattrail.ca.

5 Must-See Sections of The Great Trail in Saskatchewan

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In August, Saskatchewan achieved connection of The Great Trail, province-wide. As the longest recreational trail in the world, The Great Trail offers a wide range of activities through a variety of landscapes – urban, rural and wilderness, along greenways, waterways and roadways across Canada. In celebration, the Trans Canada Trail staff has released a series of articles highlighting different stops along the way.

From beautiful scenery to rare wildlife to historical landmarks, there’s no limit to what you can encounter on The Great Trail in Saskatchewan. Here are five spots you can’t miss:

Regina to Lumsden

If you’re up for a great day-hike, try walking the Trail from Regina to Lumsden, which lets you leave the city behind, taking you along the Saw-Whet and Wascana trails. On your way, you’ll likely see a variety of wildlife and beautiful open fields and rolling hills.

Louis Riel Trail

If you enjoy cycling, try this scenic, bicycle-friendly section of the Trail that follows the route travelled by Métis leader Louis Riel. From Saskatoon, this Trail section leads cyclists to the National Historic Site (NHS) at Batoche, Riel’s headquarters and the site of the last battle of the North-West Rebellion of 1885. Along the way, it connects to a second NHS, commemorating Seager Wheeler, “the Wheat Wizard of Rosthern.”

Qu’Appelle Valley

The Trail makes its way into Qu’Appelle Valley south of Melville near Crooked Lake, after which it continues west along the historic Fort Ellis Trail, into Fort Qu’Appelle and onto the Qu’Appelle Valley Waterway. This section of the Trail is brimming with picturesque countryside, rolling grasslands and open marshes and makes for an ideal getaway hike, reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Great Trail in Qu’Appelle Valley is an important addition to the region’s recreational infrastructure and makes for a great tourist attraction, all thanks to the collaboration of the rural municipalities of McLeod, Elcapo, Wolseley, Abernethy and North Qu’Appelle.

Fort Pitt Trail

This section of the Trail is adjacent to Fort Pitt, and passes many historic sites along the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Established in 1829 to act as a halfway point between Fort Carlton and Fort Edmonton, Fort Pitt played important roles in the fur trade, the signing of Treaty Six and in the North-West Rebellion of 1885. This section of Trail is ideal for cyclists and Canadian history aficionados.

Elbow Trail

The late Canadian author Farley Mowat once described the village of Elbow, Saskatchewan, as “a typical prairie village with an unpaved main street as wide as the average Ontario farm.” The main street has since been paved, and just beyond the village, nestled in the lush green fields of southwestern Saskatchewan, the Elbow View Trail stretches north along Lake Diefenbaker — named after John G. Diefenbaker, the 13th Prime Minister of Canada — and ends in Danielson Provincial Park. Elbow’s name was derived from the bend in the South Saskatchewan River, where the village was built. This section of the Trail is roughly 30 kilometres long, with a gravel surface ideal for walking or hiking, cycling, and horseback riding, as well as cross-country skiing in the winter.

Saskatchewan’s connection milestone will be celebrated on Oct. 1, 1- 3 p.m. at the Wakamov Bridge in Wakamow Valley (Home St E, Moose Jaw) in an event featuring food and fun for the whole family. For more information on The Great Trail, visit www.thegreattrail.ca.

Help support the Elbow Trail

Work is progressing on the Elbow recreational trail system. You can help ensure the successBFF48874-9C7F-409E-A689-C7FB87826185 of this project by making a donation.

This proposed trail system will provide the people of Elbow and its surrounding communities, as well as visitors to Lake Diefenbaker, with an excellent natural surface, environmentally-friendly trail system that is safe for beginner and intermediate hikers, cyclists, cross-country skiers and snowshoe trail users.

This trail will also provide a valuable link to the Trans Canada Trail (TCT), providing additional kilometers of scenic trails for TCT users to enjoy year round, bringing the TCT closer to achieving its goal of completing Saskatchewan’s portion of the trail system by 2017.

Click here to donate.

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Saskatchewan achieves connection of The Great Trail

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For Saskatchewan trail enthusiasts, it’s a great time to celebrate.

In August, Saskatchewan achieved connection of The Great Trail, province-wide. As the longest recreational trail in the world, The Great Trail offers a wide range of activities through a variety of landscapes – urban, rural and wilderness, along greenways, waterways and roadways across Canada.

Saskatchewan is now Canada’s fourth province or territory to reach  this milestone, after Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Yukon.

Saskatchewan’s connection milestone will be celebrated on Oct. 1, 1- 3 p.m. at the Wakamov Bridge in Wakamow Valley (Home St E, Moose Jaw) in an event featuring food and fun for the whole family.

For more information on The Great Trail, click here.

September Trail of the Month – Buffalo Pound Provincial Park trails

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Each month from May to October, the STA is promoting a trail in a different part of the province to encourage people to explore nature and be physically active.

Buffalo Pound Provincial Park pays tribute to its past use as a hunting ground by maintaining a herd of plains bison in a hillside paddock.  Today, the focus of this park, located 20 minutes northeast of Moose Jaw, is a memorable getaway for fun-seekers and nature lovers alike.

The park provides hikers with the opportunity to explore interpretive trails that stretch through the rich natural heritage of Nicolle Flats Interpretive Area, filled with marshes, grasslands, rivers and woodlands that mingle together to provide shelter and homes for a variety of wildlife.

Your hiking journey could lead you to the:

Nicolle Flats Marsh Boardwalk Interpretive Trail: This short route of 0.5 kilometres takesGraph you into the heart of a remarkable landscape and is a magnet for wildlife, such as shy sora rails, yellow-headed blackbirds, American bitterns, western plains garter snakes, pintail ducks, canvasback ducks, shoveler ducks, coots, grebes, water tigers, dragonfly nymphs, water boatmen and caddisfly larva. Interpretive signs along the boardwalk tell the story of the marsh world.

Nicolle Flats Trail: This 3 km trail connects the marsh area with the Nicolle Homestead. It’s an easy, pleasant walk through prairie grasslands and wooded coulees. The reward at the end of the trail is a shady maple grove oasis where you can rest.

Bison View Interpretive Trail: A walk along this 2.9 km trail provides opportunities to view the captive herd of bison against a backdrop of prairie sky and grasses and to remember the bison as they once were.  Views of the bison paddock and marsh area along the trail are spectacular and are sure to inspire further exploration of the area.

Dyke Trail: The 8 km trail takes you completely around the marsh. The dyke and other water control structures make the marsh a productive wetland for waterfowl and other wildlife. Bicycles are allowed on this portion of the Nicolle Flats trail system as it is part of the Trans Canada Trail.

The Valley Trail: Located on the east side of the interpretive area, the 1.5 km trail takes you into one of the richest parts of the valley – the junction of Moose Jaw and Qu’Appelle Rivers. The trail follows the high banks of Moose Jaw River to its junction with the Qu’Appelle River and returns via the dyke along the edge of Nicolle Flats Marsh. In the woodlands that grow on the floodplains of these two waterways, there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Mountain Biking Trail: More than 30 km of maintained mountain bike trails are located in the park near the former Whitetrack ski resort. Well-marked trails follow the natural contours of the valley and range from gently rolling scenic rides for the whole family to technical trails with challenging climbs and descents for the serious enthusiast. Thanks to National Trails Coalition funding, a recent project was undertaken by several groups including the Saskatchewan Cycling Association to improve the trails. A sustainable trail assessments was completed by Sustainable Trails, focusing on problem areas such as tread cupping, erosion, inappropriate trail location/design and drainage. The group then constructed seven wood bridges and rerouted of 1,197.3 meters of trail.

Winter Trails: Buffalo Pound has 7 km of ungroomed cross-country ski trails starting from the Lower Chalet area.

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Nature Grandparenting

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This fall, SaskOutdoors is offering a unique intergenerational nature program in Saskatoon. The Nature Grandparenting program is designed for grandparents to experience nature with their grandchild (three- to five-years old) in Saskatoon’s Gabriel Dumont Park.

The event is being held on Wednesday mornings between Sept. 21 to Oct. 26, with two start times: 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Many grandparents are in a unique position to act as a nature mentor in the lives of their grandchildren. With practical ideas and age-appropriate activities shared each week, grandparents will have fun weaving a connection to nature into the special relationship they have with their grandchild. This program will be facilitated by Jana Miller, former Ecoquest teacher.

This program takes place outdoors. Participants will need to dress for the weather and should be comfortable being active outdoors for an hour. Public washrooms are available on site for use. An information package will be sent out to registered participants in early September.

The event costs $95.00/pair for six six weeks ($16.00/week). The registration deadline is Sept. 14. Those who sign up are asked to review SaskOutdoors’ cancellation policy.

For more information, email info@saskoutdoors.org.

Helping to get girls and women ‘On the Move’

Check out the newly released On the Move handbook a valuable resource for individuals and organizations concerned with increasing girls’ and young women’s participation or with gender equity.

In the On the Move Handbook you will find:

  • Success stories from across the country;
  • Discussion about the social barriers girls and young women face in their participation“Stats & Facts” about the importance of sport and physical activity to the health and well-being of girls and young women;
  • Programming tips and suggestions based on 10 years of On the Move experience; and
  • Lists of supportive On the Move Network contacts, organizations, resources, and research.

Check out the On the Move Handbook

On the Move is a national initiative of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity designed to increase the opportunities for inactive girls and young women (ages 9-18) to participate and lead in sport and physical activity.

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Volunteers needed for flowering rush removal, Aug. 15-17

The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan (NPSS) is looking for a lot of volunteers from Aug. 15-17 to help it pull flowering rush from the only known wetland in Saskatchewan near Watrous, in the hope of eradicating it and saving Saskatchewan from yet another invasive species.

The work will begin at 10 a.m. each day and volunteers will meet at the intersection of AC Leslie road (watch for small green sign on the roadside) and Highway 2. The intersection is roughly halfway between Young and Watrous. Volunteers are encouraged to bring a hat, rubber boots or waders, water, sunscreen and a lunch and snacks.

If you’re interested, please email Chet at info@npss.sk.ca to register. Danielle Levesque will be the on-site NPSS contact and can be reached at (306) 717-5443.

Elbow Trail construction underway

IMG_1440Construction of the recreational trail system for the Village of Elbow and the Elbow Harbour Recreation Site is underway.

This proposed trail system will provide the people of Elbow and its surrounding communities, as well as visitors to Lake Diefenbaker, with an excellent natural surface, environmentally-friendly trail system that is safe for beginner and intermediate hikers, cyclists, cross-country skiers and snowshoe trail users.

This trail will also provide a valuable link to the Trans Canada Trail (TCT), providing additional kilometers of scenic trails for TCT users to enjoy year round, bringing the TCT closer to achieving its goal of completing Saskatchewan’s portion of the trail system by 2017.

Thanks to STA Board Member Natalie Letts for the photo!