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Prince Albert National Park Waskesiu Lake and Spruce River Highlands Trail

Viewpoint on the Spruce River Highlands Trail


Spruce River Highlands Trail in Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park is not particularly difficult to get to. You could do a day trip to the park from Saskatoon and spend most of your day in the park. However, among the national parks of western Canada, Prince Albert surely isn't the most popular. It seems that the parks on the Trans Canada Highway do much better for tourists. But for those heading to Prince Albert National Park with trail hiking in mind, here's my review of the Spruce River Highlands Trails

The Spruce River Highlands Trail can be accessed using highway 263. It is about 15 minutes driving from the park signage and the trailhead is located on the right side. When I went in July of 2021, there was a parking lot at the trailhead. I did not see any other vehicles, however, I did come across 4-5 people while I hiked the trail.

The trail is a loop trail that's just under 9 kilometers in length. Although it is a prairie trail you can expect regular changes in elevation. I am not a fast hiker and this trail took me close to three hours. I think most people would do it faster than that. I did make a point to look at the diversions that are offered at some points.

The most striking feature of this trail for me was that there were a lot of bugs. Expect tons of mosquitos and flies throughout the entire hike. You will want to be covered in repellant before you exit your vehicle. In fact, I remember dozens of flies on the windows of my car.

There were only a few spots on the trail where there was a reprieve from the insects. It's at these points where you will want to catch your breath if you need to. Also, these are the spots where you will want to get water and have your snack. If you stop at other points on the trail, where the bugs are thick, then you will be the snack if you go in the summertime.

Frequently, there were pine beetles on the trail (see the video). This is an insect that you need to be careful with. You do not want to transport these outside of the area that you find them in.

This trail wasn't the most scenic trail I have hiked. However, there was a platform that could be accessed near the start of that trail. It provided an overlook of the area (see the video) Typically, while you hike this trail you have forest on both sides that will limit your viewing opportunities. This is a trail that's about fresh air, exercise, and enjoying being in nature more than it is about getting to viewpoints.

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GPS came in handy at one point during this hike. There is a lot of twisting and bending and at some points I was not sure where I was. However, I was able to stay oriented with my GPS on my iPhone. My smartwatch offered the following statistics after I completed the loop: 9kms, elevation gain 267 meters, 1100 active calories (230 pounds, 44-year-old male), and 2 hours and 40 minutes of elapsed time.

Viewpoint video of the Spruce River Highland Trail

Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park

In the greater area, there was a really nice lake called Waskesiu Lake (see the video). It is within the national park and probably what most people have in mind when they visit this area. The beach was large, unrocky, and the water was very shallow for quite a long way. I went here during the COVID era and perhaps that was the main reason that the lake area was not really that busy.

There were some hotels and restaurants and a golf course near the lake. Additionally, the lakeside facilities were excellent and included private washrooms that you could lock with private showers. I recommend this lake more than the trail

The lake itself was amazing. The water felt really clean and I did not develop any kind of itch afterward. That's a little different than a lot of prairie lakes as a lot of lakes in Saskatchewan and Alberta are noted for giving the swimmer's itch.

Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Shane Lambert

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