Manitoba’s Best Biking and Boating


Manitoba is a province of vast wilderness, marbled by more than 100,000 lakes and waterways. Home to a staggering number of provincial parks (92!), two national parks and 15 provincial forests, its rugged wilderness is a siren’s call for outdoor enthusiasts. From backcountry canoe routes to hand-built bike parks, here’s where to bike and boat in Manitoba.


Riding Mountain National Park

Spanning an expansive 3,000 square kilometres, Riding Mountain National Park is home to a kaleidoscope of terrain ranging from grassy meadows and forests to marshy wetlands and dramatic escarpment. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the park by way of its nearly 370-kilometre trail network with routes graded easy, moderate and difficult. Many choose to hike, but taking to the trails on two wheels means enjoying this large park’s diverse landscapes at a quicker clip. You can also choose to paddle through pristine water for an incredible outdoor experience.


Mountain Biking

Bikers looking for a moderate ride might head to trailheads located at Baldy Lake (south) or Keld Park (north). The Baldy Lake Trail winds through pleasant meadows and forest before linking up to Central Trail (a retired patrol road that serves as the park’s west end connection) at the 10-kilometre marker. Alternatively, historic Strathclair Trail departs from the Keld Park lot and links up with Central Trail at the 22.9-kilometre mark. Keep an eye out for elk and white-tailed deer as you cycle through this scenic highland region. A handful of campsites are peppered through this area so it’s easy to extend your stay on an overnight bikepacking trip.

For challenging ascents and flowy single track, Riding Mountain’s eastern escarpment offers a pulse-quickening ride. Combining rugged Bald Hill and the Reeve’s Ravine trails rewards mountain bikers with some of the best views in the park. Fat tire bike rentals are available at Friends of Riding Mountain National Park Learning Centre.

Tip: Riding Mountain National Park boasts 130 kilometres of winter trails—so bring the fat bike when the flurries start.


Kayaking and Canoeing

Earning the distinction of “clearest lake in the southern prairies,” the aptly named Clear Lake is a beginner-friendly place to launch a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard for a breezy afternoon on the water. (Rentals are available at Clear Lake Marina.) If you’re looking to get away from buzzy motorized boats, BYOB (bring your own boat—kayak or SUP) to the calmer waters of Deep, Moon or Katherine Lake.


Whiteshell Provincial Park

Encompassing more than 2,700 square kilometres, Whiteshell Provincial Park sits upon the lip of the Canadian Shield. Its exposed Precambrian bedrock, sparkling lakes and picturesque waterfalls are the backdrop to some spectacular backcountry adventures.


Mountain Biking

Not too long, not too short—at 14 kilometres roundtrip, Blue Highway Mountain Bike Trail near Caddy Lake is just right. An out-and-back adventure, the trail ambles (mostly) across bare Canadian Shield granite rock. Passing through boreal forest, the route is postcard-pretty with lots of natural drops. Rated moderate, bikers should have some comfort with technical riding; wood features add a fun factor. The route is well marked and there’s a skills area. It’s groomed for fat biking through winter so you can enjoy this trail year-round.

Falcon Trails Resort offers all-season fat bike rentals out of their Owl Wing Nordic Centre. Falcon Trails Resort maintains a very impressive network of trails around their cabin property and around the ski ridge. 


Kayaking and Canoeing

Known for its rambling network of lakes—some 200 of them—Whiteshell Provincial Park is a paddler’s dream.

For an easy-rated paddle, Caddy Lake Tunnels is a splendid route that passes through a pair of man-made rock tunnels. You’ll reach the first one at the 2.4-kilometre mark and find yourself in South Cross Lake. Push another five kilometres to reach the second tunnel which deposits you in North Cross Lake. Watercraft rentals are available at Caddy Lake Resort.

Caddy Lake Tunnels coincides with the 161-kilometre Whiteshell River route, a challenging, multi-day paddle trip. Self-sufficiency and canoeing experience are imperative on this wilderness route.

For an overnight adventure, Frances Lake Canoe Route is a half-day paddle leading to a backcountry camp spot. First, you’ll drop your canoe at the launch point east of Rennie on Hwy 44. From here, follow Hanson’s Creek and navigate through wetlands while making three brief portages before arriving at Frances Lake. The paddle time is an estimated six hours. At 17 kilometres round-trip, Frances Lake Canoe Route is rated intermediate.


Paddling near Churchill

Churchill is internationally recognized for ethereal northern lights viewing and polar bear safaris but a third, equally worthy—and arguably more adorable—reason to visit is hiding just below the surface of Hudson Bay: beluga whales.

Nicknamed “canaries of the sea,” belugas chirp and squeal amongst themselves; watching these curious whales is a transformative experience. Sightings are assured in summer when some 57,000 belugas descend on Hudson Bay to calve and raise their newborns.

Adventurers can mingle among Churchill’s belugas from atop a stand-up paddleboard, on a three-hour kayaking excursion or glimpse them while AquaGliding™.


More Places to Bike:

  • The town of Neepawa boasts 5.1 kilometres of bike trails within HyLife Back Forty Multi-Use Trail Park. With routes graded easy through very difficult, all ages and abilities are welcome. Man-made hills, short technical climbs, wood drops, tabletop jumps, wall and log rides, and beams are thrilling features.
  • Located near Dauphin, Northgate Trail System is a 26-kilometre network of stacked loop, multi-use trails. Purpose-built to host all skill levels, Northgate’s machine and hand-made trails feature a good mix of well-marked easy, moderate and difficult-rated routes. 
  • A small network of mountain biking trails can be enjoyed just north of Minnedosa (PMC East, PMC West, Ian’s Trail, etc.)—a charming community with outsize outdoor recreation offerings.


More Places to Paddle:

  • Designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1987, the Bloodvein River is perfect for a multi-night or multi-week trip. You’ll journey into pristine wilderness.
  • The Manigotagan River also offers a multi-night wilderness paddle through the Manitoba backcountry. The trip is a total distance of 134 kilometres and should take intermediate paddlers five to seven nights.


This article was sponsored by Travel Manitoba

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